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Top Facts about Johan Cruyff Arena, the Great Dutch Stadium

Mon 07 March 2022 | 8:30

The Johan Cruyff Arena (in Dutch it is Johan Cruijff Arena and officially is stylised as Johan Cruijff ArenA) is the main stadium of Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands and the home stadium of football club AFC Ajax since its inaugural in 1996.

It was built from 1993 to 1996 at a cost of about 140 million euros. It is the biggest stadium in the Netherlands. The Johan Cruyff Arena was formerly known as the Amsterdam Arena (stylised as Amsterdam ArenA) until the 2018–19 football season. Then it was formally renamed in honour of legendary Dutch football player Johan Cruyff who died in March 2016.

One of the top facts about Johan Cruyff Arena is that it was one of the stadiums used during UEFA Euro 2000, and also held the 1998 UEFA Champions League Final match and 2013 UEFA Europa League Final match. Johan Cruyff Arena also hosted three group stage games and one match in the round of 16 of the UEFA Euro 2020.

Both Dutch and international artists have given live in concerts in the stadium, including Tina Turner, Coldplay, Take That, Celine Dion, Madonna, Michael Jackson, André Hazes, David Bowie, AC/DC, Justin Timberlake, One Direction, The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Rihanna. Also, every year the dance event Sensation was held in the stadium until the final edition was held in 2017.

One of the top facts about Johan Cruyff Arena is that it has a retractable roof combined with a grass surface. Its capacity is about 55,500 people during football games, and about 68,000 people during live in concerts if a centre-stage setup is used (the stage in the middle of the pitch); for end-stage concerts, the capacity is 50,000, and for concerts for which the stage is placed in the east side of the Johan Cruyff Arena, the capacity is 35,000 people.

It is worth mentioning that the stadium held UEFA five-star stadium status, which was outdated by a new system of classification.

Top Facts about Johan Cruyff Arena, the Great Dutch Stadium

Now it’s time to take a look at top facts about Johan Cruyff Arena In this article.

Quick information about Johan Cruyff Arena

  • Full name:

    Johan Cruijff ArenA

  • Former names:

    Amsterdam ArenA (1996–2018)

  • Location:

    ArenA Boulevard 1, 1101 AX Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Owner:

    Gemeente Amsterdam, Stadion Amsterdam N.V.

  • Executive suites:

    76

  • Capacity:

    55,500, 71,000 (concerts)

  • Record attendance:

    54,874 (Ajax 1–2 Real Madrid on 13 February 2019)

  • Size of the field:

    105 x 68 metres

  • Surface:

    PlayMaster Hybrid Grass by Tarkett Sports

  • Built:

    From 1993 to1996

  • Opened:

    14 August 1996

  • Construction cost:

    140 million euros

  • Home stadium for football:

     AFC Ajax (1996–present) and Netherlands national football team (selected matches)

  • Home stadium for American Football:

     Amsterdam Admirals (from 1997 to 2007)

Johan Cruyff Arena history

The city of Amsterdam was one of six cities that was the candidate for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics. In 1986, a new Olympic stadium was planned, with a football pitch and an athletics track. It was supposed to be constructed in the region of Strandvliet in Amsterdam Zuidoost.

After Amsterdam lost the competition of hosting Olympics to Barcelona in October 1986, the ideas for the new stadium were abandoned. In 1987, the Stichting Amsterdam Sportstad (in English it means Amsterdam Sports City Foundation) was founded, which proosed new plans for a sports stadium with an all-seated capacity of 55,000 people.

In 1990, a new plan was made based on both former designs, with a football pitch, an athletics track, and entirely protected by a roof. By this time, AFC Ajax required a new stadium, due to the fact that their previous home field, De Meer, was very small for most of

Ajax

's matches. For several years, Ajax had to move its more significant matches to Olympisch Stadion. In practice, the team played all of their European games and important midweek night matches at Olympisch Stadion.

Once again, the design was improved – the athletics track was eliminated, the capacity was decreased to 50,000 seats, and the fixed roof was replaced by a retractable roof.

In 1992, the Government of Amsterdam certified the procedures for the stadium with a Transferium where people could transfer from their car to several forms of public transportation. In 1993, the Government of Amsterdam changed the development plan of the location and gave a license to construct the Johan Cruyff Arena.

In the first phase of the pile of the deep foundation of the sports ground was placed on 26 November 1993. The building process, started by Ballast Nedam and Royal BAM Group and it took almost three years.

The peak point of the construction was reached on 24 February 1995, after the roof construction was done. The fly-over from the public road to the parking facilities was opened on 13 March 1996.

The stadium hosted 180,000 visitors throughout the building process, until the new stadium was closed from 1 July 1996 to the opening ceremony. Finally, the Johan Cruyff Arena was publicly opened on 14 August 1996 by Queen Beatrix.

Johan Cruyff Arena opening ceremony

Queen Beatrix opened the stadium by making a curtain fall inside the stadium. This revealed the world's largest painting De Zee (in English it means The Sea) of 80 by 126 meters (262 ft × 413 ft).

Two-dimensional ships were located on the sea, demonstrating the teams in the 

Eredivisie

. Trijntje Oosterhuis sang the hymn "De Zee", composed for the opening event by John Ewbank.

An eight-day torch relay with 375 runners over 1400 kilometres from side to side of the Netherlands reached the new stadium. The first runner was 

Johan Cruyff

 who started in the old stadium of Ajax De Meer, and the last runner was Frank Rijkaard who arrived in the new stadium.

After the grass was shown and the roof opened, an opening football match was played between AFC Ajax and 

A.C. Milan

Tina Turner was the first singer who opened the stadium with three concerts with 160,000 people, from her world breaking song Wildest Dreams Tour.

The construction of the stadium cost an amount of about 140 million euros (at the time of the construction the currency of the Netherlands was the Dutch guilder).

As pointed out before, the Johan Cruyff Arena combines a retractable roof with a grass surface. This produced some problems in the beginning: the grass rolls would not grow in the shade of the open roof and had to be changed up to four times each year.

Johan Cruyff Arena exterior renovation

In September 2015, plans were revealed to renew the stadium's facade. The renovation could provide better feature and service to visitors by widening the pathway rings around the Johan Cruyff Arena, creating more room for the visitors and for new facilities. However, the number of seats remained the same).

Consequently, the exterior of the stadium transformed from a bowl-shaped shape to a U-shaped shape, radically altering its appearance. The renovation was planned to be completed in 2020, when 4 games of the 

UEFA Euro 2020

 championship would be held.

Construction works began in June 2017. The first stage was to modernise the east side of the stadium, where building of the new facade was finalised in April 2018.

Johan Cruyff Arena name change

On 25 April 2017, it was proclaimed that the former Amsterdam Arena would be given the new name of "Johan Cruijff Arena" in remembrance of Ajax legend Johan Cruyff. Later that year, on 9 August, it was stated that the name change would take place officially on 25 October 2017. 

However, this was put off as that date proved to be impossible due to the many problems that needed to be solved, such as arranging reparation for possible loss of income, transferring part of the shares from the municipality of Amsterdam to Ajax and having a dialogue with the Cruyff family.

On 5 April 2018, it was declared that the stadium would formally change name at the start of the 2018–19 football season. The Johan Cruyff Arena's new emblem was revealed on 25 April 2018, the birthday of the Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. According to the spokeswoman of Cruyff's family, the original Dutch spelling of his name, Cruijff, was selected for the stadium's official name "to stay close to the Dutch Johan". Finally, the 2018–19 football season began in August 2018.

Johan Cruyff Arena building and facilities

One of the

top facts about Johan Cruyff Arena

is that the stadium's original architect is Rob Schuurman of the Netherlands. It has a capacity of 54,990. Before the end of the 2019-20 season, capacity increased to about 56,000 seats. During music concerts, the stadium can host a maximum capacity of 68,000 attendees. The parking capacity of the Transferium is 500 cars inside the complex and also there are additional 12,000 spots outside.

One of the top facts about the Johan Cruyff Arena is that is one of two stadiums in the Netherlands that is rated as Category 4 by UEFA, while the other stadium is the Feijenoord Stadion in Rotterdam.

Ajax museum in the Johan Cruyff Arena

The Ajax Museum is situated in the stadium, which exhibits Ajax's more than 120 years of history.

How to get to Johan Cruyff Arena

Visitors can get to the Johan Cruyff Arena by public transportation. The closest train and metro station is Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena. The metro lines 50 and 54 (Amsterdam Central Station and city center) take the people to the stadium.

Johan Cruyff Arena sporting events

The Johan Cruyff Arena is the home of AFC Ajax in the Eredivisie and European competitions.

The opening game on 14 August 1996 was a friendly match between the home team Ajax and AC Milan, which ended with a 3–0 victory for A.C. Milan. The first goal was scored by Dejan Savićević. However, the first Ajax goal was netted in the first competition game against NAC Breda by Kiki Musampa.

One of the most important club matches held in the stadium was the 1998 UEFA Champions League Final when Real Madrid overcame 

Juventus

 by 1–0. It was also one of the host stadiums in UEFA Euro 2000.

And also the stadium hosted the 2013 UEFA Europa League Final, when Chelsea defeated 

Benfica

 2–1.

It hosts most of the international matches of the Dutch national team, though the Netherlands does not have one special national stadium for football and other matches may be held in other venues.

Moreover, the Johan Cruyff Arena hosts pre-season friendly matches or tournaments, like the Amsterdam Tournament or a match of Ajax's reserve team.

The Johan Cruyff Arena hosted three group stage games and one round of 16 matches at the UEFA Euro 2020, which was put off to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the world.

American football at the Johan Cruyff Arena

One of the

top facts about Johan Cruyff Arena

is that the stadium was home of the American football team Amsterdam Admirals of the NFL Europe, until the National Football League (NFL) ended its European tournament in June 2007. 

The team played more than 50 games in the Johan Cruyff Arena from 1997 to 2007. World Bowl IX was played at the stadium in 2001, when the Berlin Thunder beat the Barcelona Dragons.

Kickboxing at the Johan Cruyff Arena

As kickboxing is the most popular combat sport in the country, the It is Showtime and K-1 promotions have held a number of fight cards at the stadium. Many of the sport's greatest stars of the sport such as Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt, Badr Hari and Ernesto Hoost have fought in the Arena.

Music events at the Johan Cruyff Arena

One of the

top facts about Johan Cruyff Arena

is that in spite of common complaints about the acoustics of the stadium, concerts are often held in the venue.

Tina Turner was the first singer to perform at the arena during her Wildest Dreams Tour, with more than 157,000 people attending the three sold-out live in concerts on 6–8 September 1996.

Michael Jackson also performed at the arena during his HIStory World Tour in five sold-out concerts, on 28, 30 September; 2 October 1996 and 8, 10 June 1997, for a total audience of 250,000 audiences.

The Rolling Stones performed at the Arena eight times: from the first to the fifth were on 29 June and 1, 2, 5 and 6 July 1998 during their Bridges to Babylon Tour, in front of a total sold out addendees of 261,277 people. The sixth and the seventh were on 19 August and 22 September 2003 during their Licks Tour. Finally the eighth one was performed on 31 July 2006 during their A Bigger Bang tour.

Backstreet Boys performed at the Johan Cruyff Arena on 5 June 1999 during their Into the Millennium Tour.

Céline Dion has been a regular performer at the stadium. She performed to a sold-out people for the first time in 1997 on her Falling into You: Around the World tour. During her Let's Talk About Love World Tour, she performed to another sold-out attendees of 64,652 and on her Taking Chances World Tour in 2008 performing to a attendees of 46,969 people.

Bon Jovi performed at the Arena four times: the first and the second were on 5 and 6 June 2001 during their One Wild Night Tour. The third concert was performed on 3 June 2003 during their Bounce Tour. The fourth one was held on 13 June 2008 during their Lost Highway Tour, in front of a sold out attendees of 34,512 people.

Robbie Williams played at the stadium eight times: twice in July 2003 as part of Weekends of Mass Distraction; four days in June 2006, as part of his Close Encounters Tour; and on 13 July 2013 in the Take The Crown Stadium Tour. He also performed on 18 July 2011 as member of Take That during their Progress Live tour.

David Bowie performed a concert in the Johan Cruyff Arena as part of his A Reality Tour on 11 June 2004.

Genesis performed at the venue on 1 July 2007 in their Turn It On Again: The Tour. It is worth mentioning that the performances of "Turn It On Again" and "No Son of Mine" were recorded for the group's live album Live over Europe 2007.

U2 performed at the Johan Cruyff Arena seven times: the first, the second and the third were held on 13, 15, and 16 July 2005 during their Vertigo Tour, in front of a total sold out attendees of 165,516 people.

The fourth and the fifth were performed on 20 and 21 July 2009 in their U2 360° Tour, in front of a total sold out crowd of 125,886 people. The band's sixth and seventh performances were for their The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 on 29 and 30 July 2017.

Madonna has also performed at three different nights, with all tickets sold out. There were two presentations by the Confessions Tour in 2006 and one show by Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008.

Dutch music group De Toppers have played at the Arena 42 times since 2005. No other musician or band has performed in the arena that often.

In October 2008, the stadium was home to children's group Kinderen voor Kinderen of the Netherlands. The Johan Cruyff Arena was selected due to the fact that the seating requirement for the group's new format of concert called the "Mega Spektakel". The group performed two concerts in the stadium on the same day due to high number of people, mostly children that attended.

AC/DC presented a show on 23 June 2009 during their Black Ice World Tour.

Moreover, André Rieu and his orchestra plus about 650 brass instrument players performed a very big concert in 2011.

Muse had a show on 4 June 2013 as part of their The 2nd Law World Tour.

Former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters presented a show of his The Wall Live Concert Tour on 8 September 2013.

On 24 and 25 June 2014, boy band One Direction performed in the Johan Cruyff Arena as part of their Where We Are Tour.

Rihanna performed at the Arena as part of her Anti World Tour on 17 June 2016.

Coldplay had two concerts at the venue on 23 June 2016 and 24 June 2016 as part of their A Head Full of Dreams Tour.

Beyoncé performed on 16 July 2016 as a part of her Formation World Tour. The concert sold out within only 20 minutes.

Armin van Buuren had performances at the venue twice in May 2017 as part of his the Best of Armin Only world tour in celebration of 20 years in music. Armin was the First Solo DJ to do so.

Beyonce and Jay-Z performed concerts at the stadium on 19 and 20 June 2018 as a part of their OTR II tour. A second show was performed due to the fact that the first one sold out within an hour.

The stadium was listed as a possible venue in Amsterdam's bid to host the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Though, the city later withdrew its bid because venues, including the Johan Cruyff Arena, were fully booked.

 

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