Learn more about Wembley Stadium
<tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;">Image:NewWembley.jpg
|Opened|| 1924 / 2007 (scheduled)
|Owner|| The Football Association
<tr><td>Operator</td><td>Wembley National Stadium Limited</td></tr><tr><td>Surface</td><td>Grass</td></tr><tr><td>Construction cost</td><td>£750,000 GBP (1924)
|England national football team|
|90,000 (Football) 75,000 (Concerts)|
Wembley Stadium is a football stadium located in Wembley, London. It is currently being rebuilt, although it is well behind schedule. When complete, the new Wembley Stadium will be the largest roof-covered football stadium in Europe. It stands opposite Wembley Arena, at grid reference TQ193854. It is commonly referred to just as "Wembley".
Wembley Stadium is one of the world's most famous football stadiums, being England's national stadium for football. In 2002, the original structure was demolished, to be replaced by a new one which was due to open in 2006, but later put back until 2007.
First known as the Empire Stadium, the original stadium was built for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, at a cost of £750,000, on the former site of Watkins' Tower. Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton were the architects and Sir Owen Williams was the Head Engineer. The stadium's distinctive Twin Towers became its trademark. Also well known were the thirty nine steps needed to be climbed to reach the Royal box and collect a trophy (and winners/losers medals). Wembley was the first pitch to be referred to as "Hallowed Turf", with many stadia around the world borrowing this phrase.
The stadium's first turf was cut by King George V and it was first opened to the public on 28 April 1923. It was built originally as part of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition (which was one of the largest exhibitions the world had ever seen). In 1934 the Empire Pool was built. The Wembley Stadium Collection is held by the National Football Museum.
The first event held at the stadium was the FA Cup final on 28 April 1923 between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United. This is known as the White Horse Final. With an official maximum capacity of 127,000, the attendance was quoted as 126,947 but up to 240,000 people are thought to have squeezed in through the 104 turnstiles by the time the gates were closed, leaving tens of thousands still queuing outside. The White Horse Final has the highest ever unofficial "non-racing" sports attendance in the world, which is very unlikely to be broken in the near future. This claim, however, is disputed, as the Maracana held 199,854 fans during the 1950 World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay.
It was thought that the match would not be played because of the volume of spectators inside the stadium that had spilled onto the pitch. That was until mounted police, including Police Constable George Scorey and his white horse, Billie, slowly pushed the masses back to the sides of the field of play for the FA Cup Final to start, just 45 minutes late. Because of that, when the stadium reopens, the new footbridge will be known as the White Horse Bridge in honour of Billie.
The FA Cup final was played there every year in May (outside wartime) until 2000. It was also the venue for Finals of the FA Amateur Cup, League Cup, Associate Members' Cup and the Football League promotion play-offs.
As the home of the English national football team, in 1966 it was the leading venue of the World Cup. It hosted the final game, where the tournament hosts, England, won 4-2 after extra-time against West Germany. Thirty years later, it was the principal venue of Euro 96, hosting all of England's matches, as well as the tournament's final, where reunited Germany won the cup for a third time with the first international Golden Goal in football history.
In all, it has hosted five European Cup finals, including the 1963 final between AC Milan and Benfica, and the 1968 final between Manchester United and Benfica. In 1971 it again hosted the final, between Ajax and Panathinaikos, and once more in 1978, this time between Liverpool and Club Brugge. The last such occasion was in 1992, when Barcelona played Sampdoria. The FA unsuccessfully bid for the redeveloped Wembley to host the 2007 final.
Wembley has also hosted two Cup Winners' Cup finals (in 1965, when West Ham United beat 1860 Munich, and 1993). It was also the venue for Arsenal's home Champions League matches in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. The only other time it has hosted an individual club's home matches was in 1930, when Clapton Orient played two home Third Division South games there.
The last goal to be scored at the old Wembley came in Kevin Keegan's last game as England manager. Manchester City midfielder Dietmar Hamann (at the time a Liverpool player) hit a low free-kick as England were beaten 0-1 by their arch-rivals Germany on October 7 2000. On that day, Tony Adams played his 60th Wembley match, setting the record for the most matches played there. As well as England appearances, his tally includes Cup Finals, Cup semi-finals, pre-season tournaments and Champions League matches for Arsenal. Fittingly, Adams captained England in that match. Peter Shilton made 58 Wembley appearances, the second highest tally.
Of Wembley Stadium, Pelé said "Wembley is the church of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football"<ref></ref> in recognition of its status as the world's best-known football stadium.
 Other sports
In the sport of rugby league, the RFL has held its Challenge Cup final at Wembley from 1929 onwards. The stadium was also regularly used by the sport for major international matches, such as Great Britain versus Australia. The first Ashes test of 1994 is particularly well remembered by rugby league supporters.
Though the venue has not traditionally been a regular host of rugby union matches, Wales played its Five Nations home matches at Wembley while Cardiff Arms Park was being rebuilt as the Millennium Stadium in the late 1990s.
The National Football League held several preseason American football games at Wembley during the 1980s and 1990s, and the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football played at the venue in 1991 and 1992. Wembley hosted the inaugural World Bowl where the Monarchs defeated the Barcelona Dragons 21-0.
The National Football League (NFL) has opened discussions with Wembley National Stadium Limited over staging games in the new stadium. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Wembley staff during a 2004 visit to London to discuss the possibility of bringing NFL games back to the stadium.<ref></ref>
As well as special events, Wembley was also a venue for regular sporting fixtures, notably in greyhound racing and motorcycle speedway. Between 1936 and 1960 it hosted all of the first fifteen stagings of the Speedway World Championship. Wembley's owner's refusal to cancel the regular greyhound racing meant that the match between Uruguay and France in the 1966 World Cup was played at White City. Wembley Stadium also staged women's field hockey matches in which England appeared in their annual match between 1951 to 1969 and then from 1971 to 1991.
Wembley Stadium became a musical venue in 1972 with an all-star rock 'n' roll concert. It has since played host to a number of concerts and events. Most notably the British leg of Live Aid was held at the stadium on 13 July 1985 which featured such acts as Queen, Paul McCartney, The Who, Dire Straits, and U2. Other charity concerts to have taken place in the stadium were the Nelson Mandela 1988 tribute, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and the NetAid charity concert.
Acts who have played at Wembley include Queen, Cliff Richard, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, ABBA, Genesis, Guns N' Roses, Elton John, INXS, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Bee Gees, Oasis, The Spice Girls, Tina Turner, and Madonna. Bon Jovi were the last musical act to play at the old Wembley before it was closed, and they were scheduled to be the first band to play at the new Wembley Stadium, with concerts on June 10 2006 and the following day. However, due to the delays in the construction of the new stadium, the concerts were moved to the National Bowl at Milton Keynes.
The stadium closed in October 2000 and was demolished in late 2002 for redevelopment. The new Wembley will be the most expensive stadium ever built, and have the largest roof-covered seating capacity in Europe.
The new design is for an all-seated capacity of 90,000 protected from the elements by a sliding roof. The stadium's signature feature will be a circular section lattice arch of 7 metre internal diameter with a 315 metre span, erected some 22° off true, and rising to 133 metres tall. According to "Guinness World Records 2006", the archway is the world's longest unsupported roof structure. It features an aircraft warning light at the top, the only stadium in the world to have one. The arch was raised for the first time during construction of the Stadium in June 2004. This is the new stadium's answer to the old "Twin Towers" trademark.
The stadium will be linked to Wembley Park Station on the London Underground via Olympic Way, and Wembley Central via the White Horse Bridge. A "platform system" has also been designed to convert the stadium for athletics use, but its use decreases the stadium's capacity to approximately 60,000. When completed, the building will have 2,000 toilets, more than any other building in the world.<ref></ref> Instead of the thirty-nine steps needed to be climbed to enter the Royal Box and collect a trophy, there are now one hundred and seven.<ref></ref>
The initial plan for the reconstruction of Wembley was for demolition to begin before Christmas 2000, and for the new stadium to be completed some time during 2003, but this work was delayed by a succession of financial and legal difficulties. The new stadium is currently under construction, with the total cost of the project (including local transport infrastructure redevelopment and the cost of financing) estimated in 2003 to be £757 million. It was scheduled to open on 13 May 2006, with the first game being that year's FA Cup Final. However, worries were expressed as to whether the stadium would actually be completed on time <ref></ref>. In October 2005, Sports Minister Richard Caborn announced: "They say the Cup Final will be there, barring six feet of snow or something like that". However in December 2005, the builders admitted that there was a "material risk" that the stadium might not be ready in time for the Cup Final <ref></ref> and in February 2006, these worries were confirmed by the FA moving the game to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
On 20 March 2006, a steel rafter in the roof of the new development fell by half a metre, forcing 3,000 workers to evacuate the stadium and raising further doubts over the completion date which was already behind schedule.<ref></ref> On 23 March 2006, sewers beneath the stadium buckled due to ground movement.<ref></ref> GMB Union leader Steve Kelly said that the problem had been caused by the pipes not being properly laid, and that the repair would take months. A spokesman for developers Multiplex said that they did not believe this would "have any impact on the completion of the stadium", which was then scheduled to be completed on 31 March 2006.
On 30 March 2006, the developers announced that Wembley Stadium would not be ready until 2007.<ref></ref> All competitions and concerts planned were to be moved to suitable locations. On 19 June 2006 it was announced that the turf had been laid. On 19 October 2006 it was announced that the venue was now set to open in early 2007 after the dispute between The Football Association and Multiplex had finally been settled. WNSL, a subsidiary of The Football Association, is expected to pay around £36m to Multiplex, as well as the amount of the original fixed-price contract. This should mean that Wembley Stadium will be ready for the 2007 FA Cup Final.
The new Wembley is a significant part of the plan for the 2012 Summer Olympics to be held in London; the stadium will be the site of several games in both the men's and women's football tournaments, with the finals planned to be held there.
 External links
- Wembley Revealed - The new stadium in detail from FX Magazine
- Official site
- Description at sportsvenue-technology.com
- Wembley Stadium at FIFA.com
- Construction web cam
- Old Wembley Stadium @worldstadia.com
- New Wembley Stadium @worldstadia.com
- Satellite Photo of the New Wembley under construction
- Guardian newspaper History of Wembley
- Brent Council development plans
- Wembley trivia
- Virtual tour
- BBC report on an building delay/accident in March 2006
- Old Wembley Twin Towers Tribute
- Wembley Stadium Pictures on Flickr
|Summer Olympic stadia|
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|FIFA World Cup|
Stadio San Nicola
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