Ewood Park is a football stadium in the English town of Blackburn, Lancashire, and is the home of Blackburn Rovers Football Club " one of the founder members of the Football League and Premier League. Rovers have played there since they moved from Leamington Street in the summer of 1890. The stadium opened in 1882 and is an all seater multi-sports facility with a capacity of 31,367. It comprises four sections: Darwen End, Riverside Stand (named as such because it stands practically on the banks of the River Darwen), Blackburn End, and Jack Walker Stand, which is named after Blackburn industrialist and club supporter, Jack Walker. The football pitch within the stadium measures 115 yards (105 m) x 76 yards (69 m). Ewood Park is the second oldest home to a Premier League club. Stamford Bridge was constructed earlier (1876), although its current tenants did not start playing there until 1905.

History
Football had been played on the site since at least 1881; Rovers played four matches there when it was known as Ewood Bridge and was most likely little more than a field. Their first match was against Sheffield Wednesday on 9 April. Ewood Park was opened in April 1882 and during the 1880s staged football, athletics and greyhound racing. Rovers moved back in in 1890, signing a ten year lease at an initial annual rent of £60. Their first match at the ground was against Accrington in September. The ground became a great success and was given the honour of hosting an international ”“ England v Scotland in 1891. In 1893, Blackburn Rovers bought the freehold of the ground for £2500, but came close to disaster soon after when part of a stand collapsed under the weight of a 20,000 strong crowd for the visit of Everton. In 1903, a roof was built on the Darwen End of the ground, at a cost of £1680. The stand now held 12,000 spectators. A year later, in 1904, the Nuttall Street Stand was built, based on designs by the architect, Archibald Leitch. The stand was first used by supporters on New Year's Day 1907 for a match against Preston North End. A double tiered Riverside Stand was built in 1913, bringing the capacity of Ewood Park up to 70,886 with 7000 seats. In 1928, a concrete wall was erected around the ground. Furthermore, the Blackburn End was terraced and the Riverside Stand re-roofed at a total cost of £1550. Ewood Park saw its largest crowd ”“ 62,522 for the visit of Bolton Wanderers in 1929. Floodlights were installed in 1958 and were first used in a friendly against Werder Bremen. Two years later a concrete roof was erected over the Blackburn End terrace. Prior to the most recent rebuild the Nuttall Street Stand was renewed back in 1984 after a fire in the summer months, this was two banks of executive boxes. After concerns about wooden grandstands after the fire at Bradford City, the Riverside Stand was demolished in 1987. Chairman Bill Fox, later persuaded his friend, and fellow Rovers supporter, Jack Walker to provide the steel for a new single tiered all seater stand, opened in 1988. After selling Walkersteel to British Steel for £330 million, Jack Walker decided to buy Blackburn Rovers and set about changing Ewood Park to one of the most advanced grounds in the country. In June 1992 the local council approved plans to develop Ewood Park into a 31,000 all-seater stadium. By February 1994, the new two-tiered Blackburn and Darwen End stands were open. The development of the new Darwen End Stand had involved the demolition of Fernhurst Mill in order to make way for the new stand and a car park. The ground's transformation was complete when in August 1994, the Jack Walker Stand was opened on the site of the old Nuttall Street Stand. Houses along Nuttall Street had been demolished in late 1992 to make way for the new larger stand.

Records
Record Attendance:
  • 61,783 v Bolton Wanderers, 2 March 1929 ”“ FA Cup 6th Round
Record League Attendance:
  • 52,656 v Preston North End, 26 December 1921 ”“ Football League Division One


Stands

The Jack Walker Stand
Formally the Nuttall Street stand. In 1905, the textile baron Laurence Cotton became chairman and set about overhauling both team and ground. In 1906, construction started on a new main stand seating 4,112 on its upper tier with a paddock for 9,320 in front with changing rooms and offices underneath, cranked at one end to follow the angle of Nuttall Street. It was a standard design from the pattern book of Archibald Leitch who also constructed stands at Ibrox Stadium, Roker Park and Goodison Park. The Nuttall Street Stand was built at a cost of £24,000 and opened on New Years Day 1907 for a match against Preston North End. The Nuttall Street stand changed very little until a fire in 1984 in the Blackburn End corner of the Stand. The club took the opportunity to redevelop this section of the stand with executive boxes and glass-fronted lounge overlooking the ground. The development cost £250,000 and was named the John Lewis Complex, after the clubs founder. The modern Jack Walker Stand now carries the name of Jack Walker, former club owner. It has 11,000 seats and is one of three stands that were built during Ewood Park's ground redevelopment in the 1990s. This stand contains the home and away dressing rooms and media/conferencing facilities. Furthermore the stand is home to the Premier Suite and Jack's Kitchen which form part of the club's hospitality packages.

The Blackburn End Stand
The Blackburn End was terraced in 1928, but did not acquire its concrete cantilever roof until 1960, which was financed after an FA Cup run to the 1960 FA Cup Final. The Blackburn End then changed very little until Ewood Park was redeveloped 1993”“1995. The Blackburn End is so named as the town of Blackburn lies behind the stand and is for home supporters. From 2006 until 2010 the stand was sponsored by Walkersteel. The modern Blackburn End Stand has 8,000 seats and was constructed in the early 1990s. The boardroom in the Nuttall Street Stand was dismantled piece by piece and, when rebuilding was finished, reassembled in the Blackburn End. The higher tier of the stand houses the family enclosure which is designated to provide a safe and comfortable environment for under 16s and their families. The lower tier houses some of the most passionate Rovers supporters. The rear of the stand is also home to a memorial garden and a statue of Jack Walker entitled "Rovers' Greatest Supporter". Outside the stand is the Blackburn Rovers club shop "Roverstore" which was revamped in 2008. The home supporters ticket office and "Blues" cafe bar is situated in the lower reaches of the stand. From here ground tours were led by former Rovers player, Ronnie Clayton until his death in October 2010. The stand is home to the "Strikers Lounge" where members of the club's junior membership scheme "Team Rovers" congregate before and after matches. The Bob Crompton suite and Executive Boxes are also located in the stand.

The Riverside Stand
Two league championships in 1912 and 1914, along with three good cup runs, helped to finance a third stand on the River Darwen side of Ewood Park. Constructed to another of Archibald Leitch's standard designs it was completed in 1913 with 2,944 seats and a large new terrace in front. In 1928 the Riverside Stand roof was re-roofed for a total outlay of £1,550. It was not until 1988 that the Riverside Stand was replaced by a new stand as the old stand had failed a safety check in 1985 that came in the aftermath of the Bradford City fire; a new, single-tier stand housing over 4,300 (700 seated approx.). The new structure was a huge disappointment for the fans and further development of the Riverside Stand took place in the 1990s with further seats being added. The material for the new roof and terracing was provided by local steel firm, Walkersteel, owned by the man who was soon to buy the club, Jack Walker. The Riverside Stand is now the oldest part of the modern Ewood Park. It is the only single tiered stand in the ground, the seating spells out the word "ROVERS"- the club's nickname. The stand holds approximately 4000 spectators. At the corner of the stand is a giant TV screen showing features, teamsheets and other live games on a match day. The Riverside Stand has previously been renamed, through sponsorship deals, after Walkersteel, CIS and Fraser Eagle. It is also the stand most likely for redevelopment in the future at Ewood Park.

The WEC Group Darwen End Stand
The first major developments of the facilities at Ewood Park took place in the early 1900s when a cover for 12,000 spectators was erected at the Darwen End of the ground in 1903 at a cost of £1,680. During the summer of 1908 the Darwen End was concreted. The Darwen End is traditionally for away supporters only, although in the late 1980s the Darwen End was opened for home supporters whilst the Riverside Stand was being rebuilt. In the last 3 games of the 2008”“09 season, the bottom part of the stand was used for home fans to give more home support to the team to pull clear of the relegation zone. The Darwen End is so named after the town of Darwen which lies behind the stand about 1 mile up the road. No more major changes took place to the Darwen End until the ground was rebuilt between 1993”“1995. The modern Darwen End holds 8,000 seats, and houses away supporters in a two tier stand mirroring the Blackburn End. It was part of the early 1990s stadium redevelopment, its construction seeing the demolition of the Fernhurst Mill, the site of which is now occupied by a car park. The stand houses the club's education department which attracts youngsters from the surrounding areas for football-based activities in the classroom. The stand is home to the "Legend's Lounge" and International hospitality suites. Blackburn Rovers' club radio station- "Radio Rovers" is housed in the stand, where they broadcast live commentary from on match days. Behind the stand is the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre which provides facilities for community coaching, football leagues and soccer schools. Since 2008 the stand has been sponsored by the WEC Group.

Other uses
Though primarily the home ground for Blackburn Rovers, Ewood Park has seen other usage. The stadium hosted three matches during the Women's Euro 2005 competition " two England matches in group play, and the final. Ewood Park has also hosted numerous England U21 internationals including England v Wales in 2004. In November 2002, Ewood Park was the location for a Rugby league Test Match International between Great Britain and New Zealand.

Media

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