Emirates Stadium

Emirates Stadium

stadium_name = Emirates Stadium
nickname = Ashburton Grove The Emirates Arsenal Stadium (by UEFA and FIFA)

location = Ashburton Grove, London
opened = July 22 2006
owner = Arsenal FC
operator = Arsenal FC
surface = Grass, 105 × 68 metres (~114 x 74 yards)cite web

title=Key Facts
construction_cost = £430 million
capacity = 60,355
architect = HOK Sport | former_names = Ashburton Grove
tenants = Arsenal Football Club
seating_capacity = 60,355
The Emirates Stadium is a football stadium located on Ashburton Grove in Holloway, North London, and the home of Arsenal Football Club since it opened in July 2006. The stadium has an all-seated capacity of 60,355,Cite web
title=Statement of Accounts and Annual Report 2006/2007
publisher=Arsenal Holdings plc
month=May | year=2007

] making it the fifth-largest football stadium in the United Kingdom, and the third-largest stadium of any kind in London, after Wembley and Twickenham. During the planning and construction stages, it was known as Ashburton Grove before a naming rights deal with the airline Emirates was struck in October 2004. The stadium project cost £430 million, but this includes the cost of the associated infrastructure as well as the stadium itself.


The stadium is a four-tiered bowl with roofing over the stands but not over the pitch. The design team was made up of architects HOK Sport, construction consultants AYH, and engineering firm Buro Happold. The stadium was constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine on the site of the former Ashburton Grove industrial estate, several hundred yards from Arsenal's former stadium Highbury.

The upper (2,646) and lower (24,425) tiers of the stadium are standard seating. For the 2006-07 season, ticket prices for an adult range between £32 and £66 for most matches, but as cheap as £13 for juniors and Cannon Club members, in the family enclosure only (designated "Category B"), with the price rising for "Category A" matches against certain top sides to between £46 and £94, with around £20 for juniors in the family enclosure. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/membership/buy-tickets | title=Ticket Information | work=Arsenal.com | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] Season ticket prices for 2006-07 ranged between £885 and £1,825. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/userincludes/docs/arsenal_brochure2.pdf | title=Season Ticket Information 2006/07 | work=Arsenal.com | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ]

The main middle tier, known as the "Club Level", is premium priced and also includes the director's box. There are 7,139 seats at this level, which are sold on licences lasting from one to four years. The cost of club tier seats for 2006–07 ranges from £2,500 to £4,750 per season and covers admission to all home league games and any home games Arsenal play in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/emiratesstadium/article.asp?article=235178&Title=Arsenal+launch+Club+Level&lid=the+stadium+-+Latest+News | title=Arsenal launch Club Level | work=Arsenal.com | date=2004-11-01 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] These were sold out by May 2006.Immediately above the club tier there is a small tier consisting of 150 boxes of 10, 12 and 15 seats. The total number of spectators at this level is 2,222. Box prices start at £65,000 per annum plus VAT, and covers admission to all home league games and any home games Arsenal play in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup. [cite web | url=http://www1.arsenal.com/platinummembership/ | title=Platinum Membership | work=Arsenal.com ] The most exclusive area in the stadium is known as the "Diamond Club" which is invite only and costs £25,000 up front plus £25,000 a year. Tickets here include use of a private lounge, a complimentary restaurant and bar, valet parking and concierge service. Members will also have the option of travelling to European away games on the players' aeroplane.

Due to the high demand for tickets and the relative wealth of their London fanbase, Arsenal expect the revenue from their premium seating and corporate boxes to be nearly as much as the revenue from the entire stadium at Highbury. [Based on a quote by chief executive Keith Edelman in "Management Today", quoted in: cite web | url=http://www.anr.uk.com/articles/i-2004-08-06-20-59-11.html | title=Reasons to be cheerful | work=ANR | date=2004-08-06 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ]

The pitch is 105 × 68 metres in size, making it the joint-largest pitch in the Premier League, while the total grassed area is 113 × 76 metres.cite web
title=Emirates Stadium - Key Facts

] It runs north-south like at Highbury, with the players' tunnel and the dugouts on the west side of the pitch underneath the main TV camera. The away fans are found in the south-east corner of the lower tier. The away supporter configuration can be expanded from 15,000 seats to 45,000 seats behind the south goal in the lower tier, and a further 500 seats can be made available also in the upper tier, bringing the total to 9 supporters (the regulation 15% required for domestic cup competitions such as the FA Cup and Carling Cup).

The upper tier is contoured to leave open space in the corners of the ground, and the roof is significantly canted inwards. Both of these features are meant to provide as much airflow and sunlight to the pitch as possible. Arsenal have a reputation for having one of the best playing surfaces in the world, and the design of the new stadium took this into account. This does have the effect that supporters in the upper tier on one side of the ground are unable to see supporters in the upper tier opposite. In the north-west and south-east corners of the stadium are two giant screens suspended from the roof. The club are currently in the process of examining whether to add a third giant screen in the north-east corner of the stadium.

The new stadium pays tribute to Arsenal's former home, Highbury. The club's offices are officially called Highbury House, located north-east of Emirates Stadium, and house the bust of Herbert Chapman that used to reside at Highbury. Three other busts that used to reside at Highbury of Claude Ferrier (architect of Highbury's East stand), Denis Hill-Wood (Former Arsenal chairman and father of current chairman Peter Hill-Wood) and Arsène Wenger (current Arsenal manager) have also been moved to Emirates Stadium but they are currently in storage.

Additionally, the two bridges over the railway line to the east of the stadium, connecting the stadium to Drayton Park, are called the Clock End and North Bank bridges, after the stands at Highbury; the clock that gave its name to the old Clock End has been resited on the exterior of Emirates Stadium facing the bridge of the same name. The Arsenal FC club museum, which was formerly held in the North Bank Stand, opened in October 2006 and is located to the north of the stadium, within the Northern Triangle building.


It was announced on 5 October, 2004 that the Emirates Stadium will be known as such for at least the first 15 years after the club agreed a £100m sponsorship deal with Emirates Airline. This sum also includes payments for an eight-year shirt sponsorship by Emirates, starting in the 2006–07 season.cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/3715678.stm | title=Arsenal name new ground | work=BBC Sport | date=2004-10-05 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ]

The stadium name is often colloquially shortened to "The Emirates", although some supporters continue to use the former name "Ashburton Grove" or even "The Grove" for the new stadium, especially those who object to the concept of corporate sponsorship of stadium names. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal-world.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=283908 | title=The 'E' Word | author=Brian Dawes | work=Arsenal World | date=2006-05-26 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] This discrepancy between official and unofficial names is similar to the manner in which Arsenal's former ground, Arsenal Stadium, is almost universally referred to as "Highbury" by supporters, the media and the club itself. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/history/arsenal-stadium-highbury | work=Arsenal.com | title=Arsenal Stadium, Highbury | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ]

Due to UEFA regulations on stadium sponsors, during UEFA Champions League matches the stadium is not officially referred to as Emirates Stadium, as Emirates are not an official sponsor of the Champions League competition; other stadia, such as the Allianz Arena in Munich, have fallen foul of this rule before. [cite web | url=http://www.wldcup.com/news/2005Oct/20051006_32335_world_soccer.html | title=UEFA likely to fine Bayern for breaching advertising laws | work=World Soccer News | date=2005-10-06 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] UEFA refer to the stadium as Arsenal Stadium, [cite web | url=http://www.uefa.com/competitions/UCL/FixturesResults/Round=2357/Match=1116342/Report=PR.html | title=New home, old mentality at Arsenal | author=Matthew Spiro | work=UEFA.com | date=2006-09-26 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] which was the official name of the stadium at Highbury.


The need for a new stadium

Arsenal started looking to develop a larger stadium during the later part of the 1990s, as their existing ground at Highbury had a capacity of 38,419 [cite web
accessdaymonth=28 July

] when it became all-seater in 1993, which was lower than the stadium capacities of almost every other European football club of comparable stature. There was little room for expansion as the East Stand backed directly onto the pavement of a public road and the other three backed onto housing; in addition the East Stand is a Grade II listed building. Arsenal had a season ticket waiting list which had been closed for some time with over 20,000 members, and were missing out on a great deal of potential revenue. However, finding a site for a new stadium in London was extremely difficult.

The club were willing to consider a location close to the M25 motorway if necessary, but had a strong preference for a location in the London Borough of Islington close to Highbury. At one stage they had considered moving to Wembley Stadium (Arsenal had played Champions League games at the old Wembley Stadium during the 1998–99 and 1999–2000 seasons) but in the end pulled out of the plans. [cite web | url = http://www.islington.gov.uk/Environment/Planning/MajorSchemes/ArsenalStadium/default.asp | title=Arsenal Stadium| work=Islington Council ] When the Wembley revamp was given the go-ahead in 2002, there was speculation that Arsenal and Tottenham would move into the new stadium when it was finished, even though the club was pressing ahead with the Ashburton Grove project by this stage. [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/3084518.stm | title=Arsenal rule out Wembley move | work=BBC Sport]

Ashburton Grove chosen

Eventually the club selected a site, an industrial estate at Ashburton Grove, which was just five hundred metres from Highbury as the crow flies. The plan was announced in November 1999, with a scheduled opening date of August 2003; this later slipped back to summer 2006 due to planning and financial difficulties. The Ashburton Grove site had many occupants, the most significant being Islington Council's recycling plant and the Royal Mail Holloway Delivery Office. In order to develop the site, it was necessary to buy out the existing occupants, and pay for their relocation (Arsenal purchased 10 acres (40,000 m²) of former railway land on Lough Road, off Caledonian Road, to house a new recycling plant, while the Royal Mail moved to Hamilton Park); this proved to be very expensive.

Local opposition

Despite Arsenal's presence in Islington for over 80 years, several local resident and business groups opposed the new stadium. Some who were made to move took legal action in July 2002, which was ultimately unsuccessful. [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/2164143.stm | title=Arsenal clear final hurdle | work=BBC Sport] The stadium became a major issue in the local elections in May 2006. The Liberal Democrats lost seats in several wards affected by the stadium and now depend on the deciding vote of the Mayor for power. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/vote2006/locals/html/au.stm LD LOSE TO NOC] , bbc.co.uk Local Election 2006.] The Metropolitan Police also demanded that supporters' coaches be parked in the nearby Sobel Sports Centre rather than in the stadium's underground car park, and access restrictions affecting 14 streets are imposed on match days. These conditions were imposed for the Health and Safety Certificate, without which the stadium could not open. The road closures were passed at a council meeting but kept under review. [ cite web | url=http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/content/islington/gazette/news/story.aspx?brand=ISLGOnline&category=news&tBrand=northlondon24&tCategory=newsislg&itemid=WeED05%20Jul%202006%2016%3A00%3A13%3A093 | title=Local Opposition to Stadium Defeated | work=Islington Gazette] [ cite web | url=http://www.arsenalnewsreview.co.uk/news/278/42.html | title=Stadium Update | work=anr ]


posts were erected.

Official opening

The Emirates Stadium was officially opened by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Thursday October 26 2006; it had been intended that Queen Elizabeth II would officially open the stadium as well, but she suffered a back injury and was unable to attend on the day. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/155/unhoused-import-pages/hrh-duke-of-edinburgh-officially-opens-emirates-stadium | title=Duke of Edinburgh opens Emirates Stadium | work=Arsenal.com | accessdaymonth=26 October | accessyear=2006 ] The royal visit echoed the attendance of the Queen's uncle, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) at the official opening of Highbury's West Stand in 1932. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/155/unhoused-import-pages/latest-stadium-news/queen-to-officially-open-emirates-stadium | title=Queen to officially open Emirates Stadium | work=Arsenal.com] As a result of the change of plan, Queen Elizabeth did the club the honour of inviting the chairman, manager and first team to join her at Buckingham Palace for afternoon tea on 15 February 2007, the first club to be invited to the palace for such an event. [ [http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/arsenal-meet-the-queen-at-buckingham-palace Arsenal meet The Queen at Buckingham Palace] ]


In order to obtain the licences the stadium needed to open, it first hosted three non-full capacity events. The first non full-capacity event was a shareholder open day on July 18, the second an open training session for 20,000 selected club members held on July 20. The third event on July 22 was the first match, as detailed below.
* The first match to be played at the stadium was a testimonial for Dennis Bergkamp against his former club, Ajax. [cite web | url=http://home.skysports.com/list.asp?HLID=379263&CPID=8&title=Gunners+set+Dennis+date&lid=2&channel=Football_Home&f=rss | title=Gunners Set Dennis Date | work =Sky Sports Online] The match featured four teams; the first half saw the current Arsenal and Ajax sides play each other, while after the break each club fielded "Legends" sides. Arsenal won 2-1; Ajax's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar became the first player to score a goal at the stadium, while Thierry Henry scored the first ever Arsenal goal there to equalise. [cite web | title= Bergkamp given rousing farewell | publisher=BBC Sport | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/5203954.stm |date=2006-07-22| accessdaymonth=23 August | accessyear=2007 ]
* Arsenal's first competitive match at the stadium was an FA Premier League game against Aston Villa on August 19 2006, which ended 1-1. Arsenal had to wait till September 23 2006 for their first Premiership win at the stadium, defeating Sheffield United 3-0.
* The first European match there was Arsenal's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg match on August 23 2006 against Dinamo Zagreb.
* The first international match there was a friendly between Argentina and Brazil, on September 3 2006; Brazil won 3-0 with two goals from Elano and one from Kaká. [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/5310364.stm | title=Brazil 3-0 Argentina | work =BBC Sport]
* Arsenal's first defeat at the Emirates Stadium was a 1-0 loss to West Ham United on April 7 2007, in Arsenal's 23rd home game at the ground. Coincidentally, West Ham United were also the last team to beat Arsenal at their old home, Highbury, on February 1 2006.
* Arsenal's second defeat at the Emirates Stadium was a 2-1 loss to Hull City, on 27 September 2008, who came back from an Arsenal lead early in the second half.

Other uses

As well as functioning as a football stadium, the Emirates Stadium also operates as a conference centre [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/membership/special-offers/hire-emirates-stadium | title=World Class Conference and Banqueting | work=Arsenal.com] and music venue. On March 27 2008 the stadium played host to a summit between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in part because the stadium was regarded as "a shining example of Anglo-French co-operation". [cite web | url=http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30400-1310831,00.html | title=Brown And Sarkozy Tackle Credit Crunch | work=Sky News ] Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band became the first act to play a concert at Emirates Stadium, on May 30 2008 and played a second gig on May 31 2008. [cite news|url=http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/emirates-stadium-to-host-first-concert|title=Emirates Stadium to host first concert|accessdate=2007-12-03|date=2007-12-03|publisher=Arsenal.com]


The stadium's capacity is currently 60,355, having been reduced slightly from 60,432 at its opening in 2006. [cite web
title=The real capacity of Emirates Stadium

] The highest attendance for a match at Emirates Stadium to date is 60,161, for a 2-2 draw with Manchester United on November 3 2007. [cite news
title=Man Utd game attracts record attendance

] The average attendance for competitive first-team fixtures in the stadium's first season, 2006-07, was 59,837, with a Premier League average attendance of 60,045. [cite web
title=Nearly two million through the Emirates gates | work=Arsenal.com
accessdaymonth=24 May
] The average league attendance increased slightly to 60,070 in 2007-08, Arsenal's second season at the stadium. [cite web | url=http://www.tonykempster.co.uk/prematt.htm?comp=1 | title=Attendances 2007/08 | author=Kempster, Tony ]


The £430 million cost of the project, augmented by the extra costs the club had to meet besides building the stadium itself, was a formidable obstacle, especially as Arsenal were not granted any public subsidy. Arsenal had difficulty obtaining finance for the project, and work ceased just after it had begun, before restarting when a £260m grant package was obtained from a bank loan. [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/3512841.stm | title=Arsenal secure stadium cash | work=BBC Sport website | date=February 23 2004 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ]

In August 2005 Arsenal announced plans to replace most of the bank debt with bonds. The proposed bond issue went ahead on 13 July 2006. The club issued £210 million worth of 13.5 year bonds with a spread of 52 basis points over UK government bonds and £50 million of 7.1 year bonds with a spread of 22 basis points over LIBOR. It was the first publicly marketed, asset-backed bond issue by a European football club. [cite web | url=http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=373845&cc=5739 | title=Arsenal sell £260m bond to help finance stadium | work=Soccernet | date=July 13 2006 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] The effective interest rate on these bonds is 5.14% and 5.97% respectively, and they are due to be paid back over a 25 year period; the move to bonds has reduced the club's annual debt service cost to approximately £20 million a year. On 31 May 2007 the club's net debt stood at £262.1 million.

However at the same time there are multiple sources of income for the club; the remainder of the Lough Road site is being used for new housing, as are the surplus areas around the stadium at Ashburton Grove. Highbury is currently being converted into apartments, most of which have been sold. In total, more than 2,000 homes will be built at the three sites, and the club is counting on the profit from these developments to make a major contribution towards the costs of the new stadium. Other sources of revenue include the £100m from Emirates for the naming rights, to be paid over the course of the deal and a £15m contribution towards the capital costs of the stadium's catering facilities from catering firm Delaware North, which has a 20-year exclusive contract to run the stadium's catering operation.cite web| url=http://www.arsenal.com/userIncludes/docs/accounts2005.pdf | title=Statement of Accounts and Annual Report 2004/05 | publisher=Arsenal Football Club | year=2005 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 |format=PDF]

Finally, there is the increased revenue from the stadium itself. In 2005, Arsenal's then chief executive Keith Edelman commented that the new stadium is expected to increase Arsenal's turnover from typically £115 million to around £170 million. [cite web | url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1753334,00.html | title=Arsenal's goal with new bond | work=The Sunday Times | author=Dominic O'Connell and Dan Box | date=August 28 2005 | accessdaymonth=8 December | accessyear=2006 ] Final accounts for the year ending May 2007, Arsenal's first season at the Emirates, show that Arsenal's turnover has increased to £200.8m, compared to £137.2m the previous year and that group operating profits increased to £51.2m. Even once debt repayments are taken into account, the club's turnover has increased by at least £20m a year, [cite news | url=http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/arsenal-debt-increases-but-tough-years-have-now-finished-416837.html | title=Arsenal debt increases but 'tough years' have now finished | work=The Independent | date=21 September 2006 ] (in 2006-07 the club recorded a surplus of £37 million), although manager Arsene Wenger warns the club's wage structure must still be respected. [cite news | url=http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-we-must-respect-our-wage-structure | title=Wenger - We must respect our wage structure | work=Arsenal.com ]


The Emirates Stadium is served by a number of London Underground stations and bus routes. Arsenal tube station is the closest for the northern portion of the stadium. Holloway Road tube station is the closest to the southern portion, but will be exit-only on matchdays. Drayton Park station is close to the stadium, but is shut on matchdays as the rail services to this station do not operate at weekends nor after 9 pm. £7.6 million had been set aside in the planning permission for upgrading Drayton Park and Holloway Road;cite news | url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2006/may/03/sport.comment1 | title=Shadow of Arsenal's grand design hangs over the little people |work=The Guardian ] however Transport for London have now decided not to upgrade either station, in favour of improvement works at the interchanges at Highbury & Islington and Finsbury Park, both of which are served by Underground and First Capital Connect services and are approximately a 10 minute walk away.

There are also numerous bus routes serving the area. [cite web | url=http://www.arsenal.com/emirates-stadium/get-to...-emirates-stadium | title=Get to... Emirates Stadium | work=Arsenal.com ] Driving to the Emirates Stadium is not recommended; strict matchday parking restrictions will be in operation around the stadium. In addition, for one hour before kick off to one hour after the final whistle there will be a complete ban on vehicle movement on a number of the surrounding roads, with no exceptions.

Generally, the stadium opens to ticket holders two hours before kick off. For easy stadium access, the stadium is divided in to four colour-coded quadrants - Orange and Blue at the North end of the stadium, and Yellow and Green to the South. The club shop, named "The Armoury", and ticket offices are located near the Yellow Quadrant.

The stadium operates an electronic ticketing system where members of "The Arsenal" (the club's fan membership scheme) use their membership cards to enter the stadium, thus removing the need for turnstile operators. Non-members are issued with one-off paper tickets embedded with an RFID tag allowing them to enter the stadium.


External links

* [http://www.arsenal.com/thestadium arsenal.com/thestadium] — official website for the new stadium
* [http://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/ashburton/ Article about design of stadium and surrounding area] on designbuild-network.com
* [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Emirates+Stadium&s=rec Images of Emirates Stadium] from Flickr

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