Stadium of Light

Stadium of Light

Infobox Stadium
stadium_name = Stadium of Light

caption =
location = Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England
coordinates = coord|54.9144|-1.3882|type:landmark_region:GB|display=inline
broke_ground = June 1996
opened = 1997
renovated =
expanded = 2000
closed =
demolished =
owner = Sunderland A.F.C.
operator =
surface = Grass
construction_cost = £27 million (plus £7 million in extensions)
Architect = TTH Architects
project_manager =
main_contractors = Ballast Wiltshier plc
former_names =
tenants = Sunderland A.F.C.
(since 1997)
seating_capacity = 49,000

The Stadium of Light is a football stadium in Sunderland, North East England which opened in 1997. The 49,000-seater stadium is the home of Sunderland A.F.C, making it the 4th largest stadium in English football. It is widely regarded as one of the best stadiums in the UK. In the 2007/2008 season survey, the Stadium of Light was recognised as the loudest in the country. It is the third time the stadium has won this award, majorly down to the stadium's enclosed bowl design and vocal supporters. The stadium has also hosted two full England international games and since 2004 it hosts the graduation ceremonies of the University of Sunderland.


Following the release of the Taylor Report in 1989, Sunderland were obliged to make plans to turn their Roker Park home into an all-seater stadium. Roker Park was a ground that mainly consisted of standing terraces, and if converted into all-seater it would have held far fewer spectators than before. Enclosed by residential streets on all sides, expansion was practically impossible. So, in the early 1990s, Sunderland began investigating the possibility of relocation.

The front-runner that emerged was a proposed stadium located on an area of land adjacent to the Nissan car plant. The 48,000 all-seater ground was labelled "the Wembley of the North". The plans did not come to fruition, as in 1992, Nissan launched an official objection, ultimately forcing Sunderland to abandon the idea.

In 1995 Sunderland put forward a plan to build a Stadium on the former site of Wearmouth Colliery which had closed on 24 November 1993. The area, on the north bank of the River Wear in the Sheepfolds district of Sunderland, was only a few hundred yards from Roker Park, and close to the centre of the city. On 13 November 1995, the Sunderland Chairman Bob Murray finally announced that the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation (TWDC) had approved plans for Sunderland to build a 34,000-seater stadium on the site.

Ballast Wiltshier plc (which had built the Amsterdam Arena) was contracted to build the stadium at an initial cost of £15 million. In June 1996, as the planned capacity rose to 40,000, construction work began. The capacity was revised again in early 1997, and the stadium was completed on time, with a capacity of 42,000. The north stand was extended in 2000 to bring the capacity to 49,000 which cost the club a further £7million. Once the stadium is completely developed it will hold a capacity of 66,000, but such plans depend on the clubs success.

In 2003 the club was granted permission to increase the capacity by another 7,200, but the subsequent relegation put these plans on hold. In 2007 chairman Niall Quinn stated the club had no immediate plans to increase the stadium's capacity.

During construction, the stadium had not adopted an official name, and so became known to fans simply as the Wearmouth or Monkwearmouth Stadium. The name was eventually revealed, to mixed reactions, by Deputy Chairman John Fickling upon completion of the stadium. The name was chosen following a competition. Although it may have been partly inspired by the common mistranslation of Benfica's _pt. Estádio da Luz ground in Lisbon [ _pt. (meaning light). However Luz is the area of Lisbon in which the _pt. Estádio da Luz stands, so the name actually translates as the "Luz Stadium"] the name is a reference to a miner's lamp, recognising the fact that the stadium is built on the site of the old Wearmouth Colliery, and that many thousands of Sunderland fans, past and present, have worked in the region's mines. To emphasise the fact, a giant Davy lamp (first introduced in this area) is located in front of the box office, adjacent to the stadium. A sign at one of the Stadium gates by the West Stand reads "INTO THE LIGHT". The same words were found on a sign at the exit to the main elevator of Wearmouth Colliery.

Powerful xenon "Stardrift" spotlights were mounted on the roof of the corners, casting beams of light into the sky on appropriate occasions.

Transport to and from the stadium has always been a major issue due to a lack of large-scale parking facilities. The St Peter's and Stadium of Light Metro stations were built to serve the stadium, when the Metro was extended into Sunderland in 2002. A park and ride system is available on match days to allow spectators to park away from the stadium, and a number of new footbridge proposals have been put forward to link the stadium to the south bank of the river, though as at June 2008 none have been approved.

tadium layout

The Stadium is in the shape of a square bowl, creating an enclosed and impressive atmosphere. The two tiered lower bowl creates a semetrical effect to the stadium, allowing for less crowd congestion. It is separated into the "West Stand", "North Stand" (formerly the Vaux Stand and the Carling Stand), "East Stand" (formerly the Fosters Stand), and the "South Stand" (also known as the Metro FM Stand).The West Stand includes the Premier Concourse which is the name of the upper tier, and a number of luxury executive boxes. The boxes feature rows of leather padded seats, and sliding class doors which open to a banqueting room with TV, and a further entrance to the clubs private bar. The West Stand also houses the main entrance, fashioned with marble floors and pillars, red carpet and gold trim. The changing rooms and tunnel, hospitality and banqueting suites, media facilities, and the sports bar. Lifts provide transport up and down the stand due to its height. The North Stand too includes an upper tier, and also includes the "Black Cat's Bar". Come the extension of the remaining two stands an even more impressive stadium would emerge.

The pitch is several metres below the level of the ground outside of the stadium. This means that the stadium is larger than it appears from outside. Spectators who walk through the turnstiles enter into an area known as the Concourse. This area contains food kiosks, shops, televisions with regular Sunderland and football upsates, bookmakers and toilet facilities. Each food kiosk is named after a famous past Sunderland player or a stand at Roker Park. A spectator can walk around the entire stadium inside the concourse, with the exception of the away-fans section which is closed-off. The drinking of alcohol is permitted only in the concourse. The concourse is linked to the seating-decks of the stadium via a series of vomitories. Each vomitory enters onto a walkway in the centre of the lower-tier. This walkway circles the entire stadium, although pedestrian movements are limited within certain sections. Seats are separated into blocks, and each block can be accessed via the central walkway, and around a walkway at pitch-level. There is no direct access to the upper-tier from the lower-tier. There are special areas on the central walkway allocated for disabled spectators and their helpers.

Away fans are usually seated the west side of the South Stand, beside the vocal heart of the Stadium Of Light - the South West Corner which is home to some of the loudest fans in the country. The North Stand (often known as 'the home end') was elected the 'new Fulwell' of the Stadium between the Sunderland fans because of its home nature, very similar to the Fulwell End of Roker Park. The North Stand has the 'slogan' "Ha'way The Lads" on the seats of the stand - this is to inspire the Sunderland players and create the 'home end' effect.


* The Stadium of Light featured in the 2000 feature film "Purely Belter" which centres on two teenagers' love of Newcastle United, Sunderland's main rivals. In the film two teenagers get tickets to Sunderland Vs Liverpool F.C. thinking they were tickets to a Newcastle United match.
*Sheffield F.C.'s stadium is nicknamed the Stadium of Bright, a pun on the Stadium of Light.

* Ground improvements at English football Stadia


* Gillan, T (2001) "Let there be light". S.T. Publishing. ISBN 0-9535920-8-1 — catalogues the building of the stadium.
* [ "Wearmouth Colliery", Durham Mining Museum, 2005]
* [, "The Stadium Story", 1997]

External links

* [ BBC Wear] Interactive 360 degree views of the Stadium of Light
* [ Pictures at Stadium of Light]
* [ Stadium of Light] a 2018 World Cup Venue?

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