Ashton Gate Stadium is a stadium in Ashton Gate, Bristol, England, and is the home of Bristol City F.C. Located in the south-west of the city, just south of the River Avon, it has an all-seated capacity of 21,497, with an effective capacity for football matches (depending on how many away tickets are allocated, and how they are segregated) of around 19,500, with an average league game's attendance of 16,446 (2007/08 season).History and arrangement
Ashton Gate was the home of Bedminster F.C. until their 1900 merger with Bristol South End who played at St Johns Lane, and the merged team alternated between the two grounds until Ashton Gate become the permanent home of Bristol City in 1904.
The ground has also played a part in the history of rugby in the city. Bristol Rugby have played there on a number of occasions since the 1920s, the most recent being on 27 December 2006 when they defeated local rivals Bath Rugby 16–6 whilst selling out the stadium for an all time record Premiership crowd outside of Twickenham. Several rugby internationals have been held, starting with England versus Wales in 1899. One hundred years later, the All Blacks took on Tonga in a 1999 Rugby World Cup pool match.
In mid 2006 it was announced that Bristol Rugby would be taking two games of the 2006-07 Guinness Premiership to Ashton Gate, the matches against Bath Rugby and the Leicester Tigers, the stadium is also to be used to house Gloucester RFC, for their match against Bristol Rugby, whilst Kingsholm Stadium is being redeveloped.The Wedlock "East End" Stand
Visiting fans for the football are housed in the Wedlock Stand at the south-east end of the ground, which was built as a covered terrace in 1928, converted to seats in the 1990s and was the traditional home fans' end until 1994. It is known as the East End to City fans.
For the first time in the 21st Century, City fans were allowed to purchase a season ticket in the East End for the 2007–2008 season. Although fewer than 300 fans took the club up on the offer, the supporters within the stand have tried hard to generate a positive atmosphere, with a continental 'Ultra' style movement. Indeed, these supporters have now christened themselves the East End Ultras, with flags and banners advertising this name. The slogan for the stand has unofficially become 'Forza East End'. For the 2008–2009 season, the East End will house 1200 season ticket holders, the maximum the club have allocated.The Williams Stand
The Williams Stand on the south-west side, which includes the directors' box and press box, was built in 1958. The lower part of the stand was a terrace known as the Grand Enclosure until it was converted to seating in the 1990s. This stand was also named after a former chainman Des Williams.The Dolman Stand
The Dolman Stand', which lies opposite it, was built in 1970. To some, it appears a dominating sight over the other 3 stands in the stadium. At that time it was built it had a small, flat Family Enclosure in front of it, which was later built up and converted to seating. In the summer of 2007, the original wooden seats in the upper area were replaced by modern plastic seats. It is named after the former club chairman and president Harry Dolman.The Atyeo Stand
The most recent addition to the stadium is the Atyeo Stand, which was built in 1994 to replace an open terrace, and contains new dressing rooms and a large gymnasium. It is named after Bristol City legend John Atyeo, who played 645 times for City and scored 351 goals, making him the clubs top goalscorer ever. He died in 1993, a year before the new stand opened.Future development
In 2005 the club announced that the Wedlock Stand, the oldest part of the ground, would be redeveloped at a cost of £7 million during the 2005–06 season, with some funding from the Football Foundation's Football Stadia Improvement Fund. Football capacity would have dropped from 19,000 to 15,000 during the work and increased to 21,000 when the new stand opened. The new stand was to include 5,200 seats, some reserved for long-term debenture holders, 16 corporate hospitality boxes and a new bar. The work was scheduled to begin in early July, but on 12 July 2005, Bristol City announced that planning permission and contracts for construction and for catering and bar concessions (which were central to funding the stand) were still not concluded, and that work would be delayed until after the start of the season. On 9 November 2005 the club decided that they were unable to go ahead with redevelopment of the stand until the summer of 2006 (work has still not proceeded), though refurbishment work in other parts of the ground, partly funded by the Football Foundation, would go ahead.Planned expansion
After promotion to the championship in 2006/2007, Bristol City resurrected plans to rebuild the Wedlock Stand at Ashton Gate, two years after the project was first proposed, taking the next step towards having a stadium which holds 42,000 fans.
Planning permission was granted in 2005 to redevelop this end of the ground, which currently houses away supporters. Work was due to start in the July of that year. It was put back twelve months and then, mainly due to a lack of funds, was postponed indefinitely. After having won promotion to the Championship, City decided to press ahead, with the builders due to start work at the end of the 2007/2008 season.
The back of the Wedlock stand would have become the main entrance to the stadium and according to chief executive Colin Sexstone, "will have a fantastic concourse and 16 executive boxes." It will be even taller than the Dolman Stand. Although no images are available for the Wedlock design, the club said it will be very similar to the single-tier construction proposed two years ago. The new stand, which would cost in the region of £7 million to build, would house 5,300 fans, taking the capacity of Ashton Gate to 21,000 when segregation is used. Away fans would be moved to another part of the ground, although it is yet to be decided where.
The club were also granted permission to redevelop the Williams Stand in 1998, and have consistently renewed that so it still applies today. They planned to rebuild the stand completely and then fill in one of the corners, providing more than 13,000 seats, taking the total capacity up to 29,000.
However, these plans have been abandoned. On 29 November 2007, after 100 years at Ashton Gate, it was announced that Bristol City are planning to move to a new stadium near 'The Gate'. This move is now set to go ahead and planning is under action. After conducting a comprehensive fans survey, a preliminary design has been drawn up of a 30,000 capacity stadium with the option to increase to 42,000 , should Bristol City require the expansion . (This was originally a requirement of being a host city as part of England's unsuccessful 2018 World cup bid). Planning permission was expected to be completed by May 2009 with the stadium having a planned completion for the start of the 2011/12 season. The planning and building of the new stadium at Ashton Vale has been delayed due to opposition by local groups citing issues relating to collapse of the local economy , its environmental impact on the locale and destruction of an area noted as a "village green" . The design for the new stadium has been hit with some criticism from fans , however, mainly from the 'Eastenders' group, who believe the stadium should incorporate a home end or Kop style stand to make the ground intimidating for visiting teams.Other use
Ashton Gate has held two international rugby union matches, as follows:Music
Bon Jovi played in front of a record 23,000 spectators at Ashton Gate on 25 June 2008 and are returning as part of the Bon Jovi Live tour on 27 June 2011. Other artists that have appeared at Ashton Gate in the past include The Rolling Stones,Elton John,Neil Diamond, Bryan Adams,The Who, Ronan Keating, Rod Stewart and Meat Loaf.