Denbigh Stadium

Stadium mk (initially named as stadium:mk, stylistically stadiummk, and also known locally as "Denbigh Stadium") is a football ground in the Denbigh district of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. Designed by Populous, it has completed phase one construction by civil engineering company Buckingham Group Contracting. It is the home ground of Milton Keynes Dons FC.

The stadium was officially opened on 29 November 2007 by The Queen.

The initial configuration of the stadium uses only the lower tier to hold 22,000, but using the upper tier there is provision to increase the capacity to 32,000. However, should it be needed there is also an option to increase the maximum capacity to 45,000 with the introduction of a new tier. When complete the design will comply with UEFA's Elite Stadium specifications and includes a Desso GrassMaster playing surface.

The plans of the complex include an indoor arena, arena:mk, that was to be the home of the Marshall Milton Keynes Lions professional basketball team from 2008. However, the retail developments that would have provided enabling funding have been deferred due to the national economic situation, leaving the Lions searching for an alternative arena.

In addition to association football, the stadium is occasionally host to rugby union. In May 2008, Saracens (who normally groundshare with Watford at Vicarage Road) played Bristol at stadiummk because Watford needed their ground for a Championship play-off. In 2011, Northampton Saints RFC used the ground for their Heineken Cup quarter and semi final matches because their home ground is too small for major events.

Background

The stadium was first proposed in May 2002, when Wimbledon FC sought permission to relocate to Milton Keynes from their original home some 60 miles (97 km) away in South London. It was originally planned that the new stadium would be ready for the 2004–05 season, but it was to be another three years after this date before the stadium was opened. In the meantime, Wimbledon had played at the National Hockey Stadium and had been refounded as Milton Keynes Dons.

Stadium size

Initially there were concerns that the size of the stadium may have been too optimistic. Although attendances increased since leaving the National Hockey stadium, the stadium has yet to sell out for Dons' games. The MK Dons average attendance of 10,550 during the 2008-09 League One season remains below half the ground capacity. The MK Dons average home attendance for the first part of the 2009/10 season was ranked 6th out of 24 teams in League One.

Early events

Although Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the stadium in November 2007, it hosted its first game on 18 July 2007, a match against a Chelsea XI, which resulted in a 4–3 win for the home side. Later in July an England Legends XI took on a World Legends XI in a match in memory of the late England footballer Alan Ball. In November 2007 the stadium hosted its first FIFA sanctioned international football match when the England Under 21 team hosted their Bulgarian counterparts in a UEFA Euro 2009 qualifier. Since then, the stadium has been used a number of times to host England Under 21 internationals, such as a June 2009 warm-up game for the 2009 Under-21 European Championship against Azerbaijan Under-21's (which England won a resounding 7–0). The stadium was used as a centrepoint for the 40th birthday celebrations of Milton Keynes which took place during 2007.

The stadium also marked another first on 8 May 2008 when it hosted its first rugby union fixture. Guinness Premiership side Saracens entertained Bristol away from their regular Vicarage Road ground, due to Watford F.C. playing at home in the 2008 Championship play-off semi-final.

stadiummk was chosen as a host stadium for England's bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Cowshed

The South stand of stadiummk is known as the Cowshed by Dons fans, as Milton Keynes is known for its Concrete Cows. This nickname was also used for the home end at the Dons' previous ground.

England 2018 World cup bid

In December 2009, the English FA awarded 'Candidate Host City' status to Milton Keynes. Had England won the bid, stadiummk would have hosted some games. For this to happen, the stadium capacity would have had to be increased to 44,000. However on 2 December 2010 FIFA decided not to award the World Cup to England.

Rugby: the Heineken Cup

On 24 January 2011, the Northampton Saints Rugby union club announced that their 2010-11 Heineken Cup quarter final match against Ulster would take place in the stadium, because their Franklin's Gardens ground is too small to meet the minimum 15,000 seats demanded by the organisers.

The Saints had previously indicated that they might play future major games at stadiummk as their proposal to expand Franklin's Gardens using an enabling (ASDA supermarket) development has encountered planning difficulties.

Accordingly, their quarter-final match was played at the stadium on Sunday 10 April 2011 in front of a stadium record crowd of 21,309 supporters who witnessed the Saints (the 'home' side for the day) beat Ulster 23-13. This secured for the Saints a place in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup where they went on to beat USA Perpignan, again at the stadiummk.

Location

The stadium is in south central Milton Keynes, in the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford civil parish, near the junction of the A5 and the A421. The nearest railway station is Bletchley, about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) away. The Central station, about 2.6 miles (4.2 km) away, has more intercity services.

Building Activity

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