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Around the Grounds: The Cardiff City Stadium

Opened: 2009

Capacity: 33,280

Other Names: Stadiwm Dinas Caerdydd

Cheapest Season Ticket Price: £309

Pie: £3.90

Cardiff City are one of the new boys in the Premier League at the moment, having been promoted along with Wolves and Fulham from the Championship. The Bluebirds under Neil Warnock’s guidance are sitting in 17th place with 19 points, hovering just above the relegation zone. Many will have expected the Welsh team to struggle this season, but their performances have certainly been promising, especially at their home, the Cardiff City Stadium. Here, we take a look at the story behind the Welsh capital’s second largest ground.

The Cardiff City Stadium is one of the newest in the Premier League, having been opened as recently as 2009 when City were still in the Championship. The £48m construction replaced Cardiff’s previous ground of Ninian Park which had hosted fixtures since 1910, but their old home was definitely not forgotten upon moving out. The current stadium now has 3 stands named after those at Ninian Park- the Grange End, the Grandstand and the Canton Stand and the 4th stand is actually called the Ninian Stand- nostalgic.

Whilst the current capacity of the ground is 33,280, the original plans only made 25,000 seats available, in part due to a tumultuous few years for Cardiff City Football Club prior to 2009. The initial public approval of the plans went through relatively smoothly, with the Mayor of Cardiff and ex-Owner of the Bluebirds, Sam Hammam, agreeing on the new development.

However, it was in 2004 that the project started to hit a few blips. Firstly, there were hitches in the legal process which slowed down progress, and then in 2005, the football club’s poor financial backing led to serious worry about the new stadium. Cardiff City found themselves with £30m debt and a wage bill of £750,000 a week which they struggled to pay.

This caused a complete revamping of the footballing staff to pave way for the new ground and a restructuring at boardroom level which saw a consortium led by ex-Leeds Chairman Peter Ridsdale take over. The main falldown of the construction however was that it relied heavily on investment from the would-be occupiers of retail park that Cardiff City FC planned to build along with the new stadium.

The Bluebirds, under pressure of a 90-day ultimatum from the council, managed to secure Asda as the main retailer in the park and construction finally started on the Cardiff City Stadium in 2007. In order to shorten the time for completion, the club reduced the planned capacity from 30,000 to 25,000 and the stadium was finally moved into in 2009.

Since then, the Cardiff City Stadium has grown step by step, particularly after the arrival Malaysian co-owner Vincent Tan in 2010. Although an extremely controversial character at the beginning, mainly because he wanted to change Cardiff’s kit from blue to red in order to make the club more sellable, he has improved the fortunes of the club and the stadium.

He invested £35m in order to pay off debts that had built up after the stadium construction and further money to make the Bluebirds into a Premier League outfit. In 2012, plans were made to improve the training facilities and £12m was set aside to expand their home by 8,000 seats.

There were further issues with the expansion due to dwindling ticket sales in 2014 but this issue has now been solved and the capacity sits at 33,280. The ground even has a potential to reach a 60,000 capacity even Cardiff become a big European club.

There is no doubt Cardiff City Football Club as a concept has huge potential to become a force. They have a large following and they represent the largest city in Wales. On top of that, they’ve got a stadium which can be expanded to a massive capacity which would rival even the Premier League’s top 6.

Whilst this is certainly a long-term plan, the short-term is undoubtedly Premier League survival which would provide a financial base for further progression. Then, who knows, in the next 20 years Cardiff City may become a fixture in the Premier League and 60,000 fans at the Cardiff City Stadium won’t seem so farfetched.

Dan Stokes

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

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