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Around the Grounds: The Amex Stadium

Opened: 2011

Capacity: 30,750

Other Names: The American Express Community Stadium/ The Falmer Stadium

Cheapest Season Ticket Price: £515

Pie: £4.10

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium is arguably the newest purpose-built football stadium in the Premier League. It was built in 2011 and only West Ham’s London Stadium (The Olympic Stadium) can be classed as newer. The Amex has very much become a fortress for the Seagulls since its inception 7 years ago and the new stadium certainly transformed the Sussex club, who were actually without a permanent ground for the 14 years prior to moving into the Amex. Between 1997 and 1999, the club plied their trade at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium before taking up semi-residency at the Withdean Stadium, an 8,850-seater ground which was hardly suitable for a Football League side. The completion of the Falmer Stadium in 2011 was long awaited and it laid a strong base for the club to really start challenging for promotion to the Premier League. Fast-forward 6 years and after a few failed attempts at Championship glory, the club reached the big-time in 2017, and they haven’t stopped there. The Seagulls now consistently compete against the big teams, especially at Falmer, and Chris Hughton seems to have built a solid foundation for the squad to building upon in the coming years. But what is the story behind this lavish 30,000-seater? And what are the best memories Brighton fans have of it?

Plans were drafted for Brighton’s new development as soon as they moved out of their old ground, The Goldstone, in 1999. The old stadium was sold off by previous board members 1995 with little to no future plan regarding the Albion’s new home. It was in the 1998/1999 that the site at Falmer, just outside the University of Sussex, was identified as a suitable place for the Seagulls’ new home by Dick Knight, the former chairman of the Sussex club. Knight planned the stadium to be finished by the mid-2000s but subsequent opposition throughout the planning process delayed its completion until 2011. Originally, the Brighton and Hove Council unequivocally permitted the construction of the stadium of the Falmer site, but it was the neighbouring authority of Lewes District Council who rejected Knight’s proposals for the new arena in 2002. The Council highlighted the visual impact of the stadium, which sits in a vast area of natural beauty, would be detrimental to the area and that the traffic impact on Falmer Village would have serious disadvantages for the local population. Lewes District Council then applied for reconsideration by public inquiry of other potential sites for the construction of the new stadium, reasoning that Brighton and Hove Albion had not fully considered other areas. The Deputy Prime Minister at the time, John Prescott, nonetheless announced that the Falmer site was the most suitable after the close of the public inquiry in October 2003, citing the economic benefits of the development as vital. The opposition then planned to submit their case for judicial review in order to rebuff the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement, but this was met with huge backlash from 74% local electorate who backed the stadium’s development against 16.9% who supported the council, according to The Argus’ poll. The case was nevertheless heard, but the Seagull’s won and construction started on the new stadium in December 2008, nearly 10 years after original plans were drawn up.


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KSS, a London-based architectural firm were charged with the design of the stadium, and made it so that expansion would be possible, should the club reach new heights in terms of their football. KSS are amongst the most prestigious architectural firms around and they have been the orchestrators of stadium projects such as the Olympic Stadium, Wimbledon’s Number One Court and recent developments at Anfield.

Back to the Amex, and in 2011 Brighton and Hove Albion’s long wait for their own stadium was complete. The first game played at the stadium involved Gus Poyet’s Brighton against his old side, Tottenham Hotspur, in a narrow 3-2 loss for the Seagulls. Since then though, the Sussex club have gone on to reach the Premier League and shown themselves a force to be reckoned with at home. Last season, they defeated Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal 2-1 and this season they have already beaten Manchester United 3-2, currently sitting comfortably in 12th place with 14 points. Last time out, they finished 15th, reaching the hallowed 40-point mark. Without a doubt, Hughton’s men will be seeking to better that total this year and it will be their ability to rack up points consistently at home that will determine their destiny.

Fun Fact: The American Express Community Stadium, to give it its full name, does boast a rather interesting story in that the club actually “employs” a hawk in order to stop seagulls from nesting with the confines of the stadium.

Dan Stokes

22-year-old Modern Languages Graduate and Arsenal fan from the University of Southampton.

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