Britannia Stadium
The Britannia Stadium is a football stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, England. It is the home of Stoke City Football Club. The club had played at the Victoria Ground until 1997. The stadium holds 28,384 supporters, with the highest attendance being recorded for the sell-out fixture against Everton in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie in 2002. The first goal in the stadium was scored by Graham Kavanagh for Stoke in a league cup game against Rochdale. Sir Stanley Matthews's ashes were buried beneath the centre circle of the pitch following his death in February 2000; he had officially opened the stadium on 30 August 1997.

The all-seater stadium cost nearly £15 million to build and brought the Club up to standards with the Taylor Report following 119 years at the Victoria Ground. By early 1997, the skeletal steel superstructure was in place and the stadium began to take shape. In August 1997 it opened its doors for the first time as the Britannia Stadium thanks to a £1million, 10-year sponsorship deal with the Britannia Building Society which was instrumental in the overall funding of the project. Another £3,000,000 was given as a grant by the Football Trust. On 27 August 1997, Rochdale were the visitors for the historic first-ever competitive match - a 1-1 draw in the Worthington Cup watched by 15,439 - and four days later the first-ever league game took place against Swindon Town before a crowd of 23,859. Ten years on and the Club obtained full ownership of the stadium in a deal worth £6 million following the previous joint-partnership with the Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd.

Structure and facilities

In total, the Britannia Stadium cost £14.7million to construct on the former site of Stafford Colliery. Building work began in late autumn 1996 and was completed in August 1997. The all-seater stadium holds 28,383 supporters (although this has been reduced to 27,500 for the 2008/2009 season due to segregation) in four cantilever stands. The main West stand consists of two tiers of seating which house 7,357 spectators, plus all of the Stadiums corporate and media facilities. The L-shaped Boothen and East stands hold 6,006 and 8,789 people respectively. The South Stand, which is used mainly for away support can accommodate 4,996 people. The stadium is not eligible to be a UEFA 4 star stadium but only because it seats less than 30,000. The clubs dressing rooms, offices, boardroom and club superstore are positioned between the West and South stands. The official opening of the stadium was made by club legend Sir Stanley Matthews, then aged 82, who died less than three years later. His ashes are now buried beneath the stadium's centre circle. Recently in 2006, work has taken place on the A50 to allow direct access to the stadium from the eastbound direction, involving the building of a bridge across the road. It is close to the Sideway junction with the A500.

Future development
If Stoke can establish themselves in the FA Premier League, they would consider filling in the corner between the Boothen End and the West Stand, taking the ground's capacity to over 30,000. However, doing this could result in changing the conditions at the Britannia Stadium that allow for Stoke City's current brand of football, which has proved successful in their first seasons in the FA Premier League. As a result of this, the decision was taken not to jeopardise the on-pitch fortunes of the club, and to keep the stadium in its current state. This has left the stadium looking somewhat lopsided and unable to fulfil the criteria required for UEFA 4-star stadia. However, if continued Premier League status results in ever-increasing attendances then the club may then be inclined to increase capacity by filling West Stand-Boothen corner. Due to Stoke's promotion to the Premier League in the 2007/08 season, as of the summer of 2008, the interior of the ground including executive boxes, the Waddington suite and the main reception have undergone refurbishment. In between the Seddon end and the South Stand there is now a large screen.

Other events
The stadium also has full Conference, Banqueting and Events facilities and has, as well as football, also staged firework displays and music concerts. The likes of rock group Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Busted have all played out on the pitch at the ground in addition to the numerous summer music concerts. The stadium hosted the 2002”“03, 2003”“04 and 2004”“05 playoff finals for the Conference National. The stadium has also hosted an U21 international between England and Portugal on 16 April 2002. Portugal won the match 1”“0.

Stadium ownership
The Stadium was originally owned jointly by Stoke City F.C., Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd. However, in December 2007 Stoke City F.C. announced that they had agreed a deal to buy Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regenerations shares in the stadium for £6 million, giving them full ownership.

Stand names and capacities Stand Location Capacity Boothen End North 6,006 Q-railing Stand West 7,357 Seddon Stand + Family area East 8,789 SEAT Stand South 4,996

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