Wembley Stadium
"The Home of Football"[1]
Wembley Stadium EE logo.png

Wembley Stadium, illuminated.jpg
UEFA Template:Rating
Location London, England
Broke ground 30 September 2002[2]
Built 2002–2007
Opened Template:Start date and years ago
Owner The Football Association
Operator Wembley National Stadium Limited
Surface Desso GrassMaster
Construction cost GBP £757 million (2007)[3]
NaN in 2020 sterling[4])
Architect HOK Sport (Populous since 2009), Foster and Partners, Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners (planning consultants)[5]
Project Manager Symonds[6]
Structural engineer Mott Stadium Consortium – Mott MacDonald, Sinclair Knight & Merz & Aurecon[6]
Services engineer Mott MacDonald[6]
General Contractor Multiplex Constructions (UK) Ltd[6]
Tenants England national football team (2007–present)
Capacity 90,000[7] (Association football, rugby league, rugby union)
75,000 to 90,000 seated and 15,000 standing (concerts)
60,000 to 72,000 (athletics)
86,000 (American football)
Field dimensions Template:Convert/by

Wembley Stadium is a football stadium in Wembley, London, England, which opened in 2007, on the site of the original Wembley Stadium, which was demolished from 2002–2003.[8] The stadium hosts major football matches including the FA Cup Final and home matches of the England national football team.

Wembley Stadium is a UEFA category four stadium. With 90,000 seats, it is the second-largest stadium in Europe and the largest stadium in the United Kingdom.[7] It is owned by The Football Association through its subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Ltd (WNSL).

Designed by HOK Sport[9] and Foster and Partners, it includes a partially retractable roof and the 134-meter-high (440 ft) Wembley Arch. The stadium was built by Australian firm Multiplex at a cost of £798 million.

In addition to the FA Cup Final, the stadium hosts the season-opening FA Community Shield, the League Cup Final, the Football League Trophy and the Football League play-offs. It hosted the 2011 and 2013 UEFA Champions League Final, the Gold medal matches at the 2012 Olympic Games football tournament, and will host both the semi-finals and final of UEFA Euro 2020.[10] The stadium also hosts the rugby league Challenge Cup Final, the NFL International Series and music concerts.

Stadium[edit | edit source]

Wembley Stadium exterior

Wembley was designed by architects Foster + Partners and HOK Sport (now known as Populous) and with engineers Mott Stadium Consortium, who were a collection of three structural engineering consultants in the form of Mott MacDonald Ltd, Sinclair Knight & Merz and Aurecon. The design of the building services was carried out by Mott MacDonald Ltd. The construction of the stadium was managed by Australian company Brookfield Multiplex and funded by Sport England, WNSL (Wembley National Stadium Limited), the Football Association, the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the London Development Agency. It is one of the most expensive stadia ever built at a cost of £798 million (After MetLife Stadium)[11][12] and has the largest roof-covered seating capacity in the world. Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners was appointed to assist Wembley National Stadium Limited in preparing the scheme for a new stadium and to obtain planning and listed building permission for the development.[13]

Wembley Stadium interior

The all-seater stadium is based around a bowl design with a capacity of 90,000, protected from the elements by a sliding roof that does not completely enclose it. It can also be adapted as an athletic stadium by erecting a temporary platform over the lowest tier of seating.[14] The stadium's signature feature is a circular section lattice arch of 7 m (23 ft) internal diameter with a 315 m (1,033 ft) span, erected some 22° off true, and rising to 133 m (436 ft). It supports all the weight of the north roof and 60% of the weight of the retractable roof on the southern side.[15] The archway is the world's longest unsupported roof structure.[16]

A "platform system" has been designed to convert the stadium for athletics use, but its use would decrease the stadium's capacity to approximately 60,000.[17] No athletics events (track and field) have taken place at the stadium, and none are scheduled.[18] The conversion for athletics use was a condition of part of the lottery funding the stadium received, but to convert it would take weeks of work and cost millions of pounds.[19]

Construction[edit | edit source]

The stadium in its very early stages of construction c. August 2003

The initial plan for the reconstruction of Wembley was for demolition to begin before Christmas 2000, and for the new stadium to be completed some time during 2003, but this work was delayed by a succession of financial and legal difficulties. In 2004, the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and Brent Council also announced wider plans for the regeneration of Wembley, taking in the arena and the surrounding areas as well as the stadium, to be implemented over two or three decades. Demolition officially began on 30 September 2002, with the towers being dismantled in December 2002.

Delays to the construction project started as far back as 2003. In December 2003, the constructors of the arch, subcontractors Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company of Darlington, warned Multiplex about rising costs and a delay on the steel job of almost a year due to Multiplex design changes which Multiplex rejected. Cleveland Bridge withdrew from the project and replaced by Dutch firm Hollandia with all the attendant problems of starting over. 2004 also saw errors, most notably a fatal accident involving carpenter Patrick O'Sullivan for which construction firm PC Harrington Contractors were fined £150,000 in relation to breaches of health and safety laws.[20]

In October 2005, Sports Minister Richard Caborn announced: "They say the Cup Final will be there, barring six feet of snow or something like that". By November 2005, WNSL were still hopeful of a handover date of 31 March, in time for the cup final on 13 May. However, in December 2005, the builders admitted that there was a "material risk" that the stadium might not be ready in time for the final.[21][22] In February 2006 these worries were confirmed, with the FA moving the game to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Construction of the new Wembley, looking east, taken January 2006

On 20 March 2006, a steel rafter in the roof of the new development fell by a foot and a half, forcing 3,000 workers to evacuate the stadium and raising further doubts over the completion date which was already behind schedule.[23] On 23 March 2006, sewers beneath the stadium buckled due to ground movement.[24] GMB Union leader Steve Kelly said that the problem had been caused by the pipes not being properly laid, and that the repair would take months. Rumours circulated that the reason for the blockage was due to Multiplex failing to pay the contractors who laid the pipes who then filled in the pipes with concrete. A spokesman for developers Multiplex said that they did not believe this would "have any impact on the completion of the stadium", which was then scheduled to be completed on 31 March 2006.

On 30 March 2006, the developers announced that Wembley Stadium would not be ready until 2007.[25] All competitions and concerts planned were to be moved to suitable locations. On 19 June 2006 it was announced that the turf had been laid. On 19 October 2006 it was announced that the venue was now set to open in early 2007 after the dispute between The Football Association and Multiplex had finally been settled. WNSL was expected to pay around £36m to Multiplex, on top of the amount of the original fixed-price contract. The total cost of the project (including local transport infrastructure redevelopment and the cost of financing) was estimated to be £1 billion (roughly US$2 billion).

For the new stadium the level of the pitch was lowered. During excavation of the new playing field, mechanical diggers unearthed a buried obstruction: the concrete foundations of Watkin's Tower, a failed attempt to construct a rival to the Eiffel Tower in London. Only the base of the tower was ever built before being abandoned and demolished in 1907; the site was later used as the location for the first Wembley Stadium.[26]

Handover and opening[edit | edit source]

File:Bobby Moore Statue outside Wembley Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 602874.jpg

The statue of Bobby Moore stands outside the stadium entrance, looking down Wembley Way

The new stadium was completed and handed over to the FA on 9 March 2007. The official Wembley Stadium website had announced that the stadium would be open for public viewing for local residents of Brent on 3 March 2007, however this was delayed by two weeks and instead happened on 17 March.

While the stadium had hosted football matches since the handover in March, the stadium was officially opened on Saturday 19 May, with the staging of the 2007 FA Cup Final. Eight days before that on Friday 11 May, the statue of Bobby Moore had been unveiled by Sir Bobby Charlton outside the stadium entrance, as the "finishing touch" to the completion of the stadium. The twice life-size bronze statue, sculpted by Philip Jackson, depicts England's 1966 World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore, looking down Olympic Way.[27][28][29]

Structure[edit | edit source]

  • The stadium contains 2,618 toilets, more than any other venue in the world.[30]
  • The stadium has a circumference of Template:Convert/km.[31]
  • The bowl volume is listed at 1,139,100 m3, somewhat smaller than the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but with a greater seating capacity.[32]
  • At its peak, there were more than 3,500 construction workers on site.[33]
  • 4,000 separate piles form the foundations of the new stadium,[31] the deepest of which is 35 m (115 ft).[31]
  • There are Template:Convert/km of heavy-duty power cables in the stadium.[31]
  • 90,000 m3 (120,000 yd3) of concrete and 23,000 tonnes (25,000 short tons) of steel were used in the construction of the new stadium.[31]
  • The total length of the escalators is 400 m (¼ mi).[31]
  • The Wembley Arch has a cross-sectional diameter greater than that of a cross-channel Eurostar train.[34][35]

Pitch[edit | edit source]

File:Wembley enggermatch.jpg

Wembley Stadium pitch during England friendly against Germany in August 2007.

The new pitch is 13 feet (4 meters) lower than the previous pitch. The pitch size, as lined for association football, is Template:Convert/yd long by Template:Convert/yd wide, slightly narrower than the old Wembley, as required by the UEFA stadium categories for a category four stadium, the top category.

Since the completion of the new Wembley, the pitch has come into disrepute since it was described as being "no good" and "not in the condition that Wembley used to be known for" by Slaven Bilić before the game between England and the team he managed, Croatia.[36] It was confirmed when the pitch was terribly cut up during the game, which was blamed by some[37] as the reason England did not qualify for UEFA Euro 2008.[38] The Football Association admitted in April 2009 after the FA Cup semi-finals that improvements are needed to the Wembley pitch after criticism of the surface by Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and David Moyes. The grass has been relaid ten times since the stadium re-opened in 2007 and was relaid again in the summer of 2009, ahead of the 2009 Community Shield.[39][40]

In March 2010, the surface was relaid for the 10th time since 2007, when the stadium was built. In April 2010, the pitch was again criticised following the FA Cup semi-finals, during which the players found it difficult to keep their footing and the surface cut up despite the dry conditions. The then Tottenham Hotspur boss, Harry Redknapp labelled it a "disgrace" after his side's semi-final defeat to Portsmouth.[41] After the 2010 FA Cup Final, Chelsea captain John Terry said, "The pitch ruined the final. It's probably the worst pitch we've played on all year. It was not good enough for a Wembley pitch."[42] It was relaid with Desso semi-artificial pitch, ahead of the 2010 community shield game between Chelsea and Manchester United. Michael Owen, who previously criticised the pitch for causing him injury, said that it was much improved.[43]

Covering[edit | edit source]

File:Wembley Arch CloseUp.jpg

Close-Up of the Arch

The stadium roof has an area of 40,000 mTemplate:Sup, of which 13,722 mTemplate:Sup is movable.[32] The primary reason for the sliding roof was to avoid shading the pitch, as grass demands direct sunlight to grow effectively.[44] The sliding roof design minimises the shadow by having the roof pulled back on the east, west and south.[45] Angus Campbell, chief architect, also said that an aim was for the pitch to be in sunlight during the match between the beginning of May and the end of June, between 3 pm and 5 pm, which is when the FA and World cups would be played. However it was mentioned during live commentary of the FA Cup Final in 2007 that the pitch was in partial shade at the start at 3 pm and also during the match.[46]

The stadium roof rises to 52 metres above the pitch and is supported by an arch rising 133 metres above the level of the external concourse. With a span of 315 metres, the arch is the longest single span roof structure in the world.[31]

Litigation[edit | edit source]

The Australian firm Multiplex, which was the main contractor on Wembley Stadium, made significant losses on the project.[47][48] In an attempt to recoup some of those losses, the firm has initiated a number of legal cases against its sub-contractors and consultants.[49] The largest of these – the largest construction claim in UK legal history – was a claim for £253 million against the structural engineering consultants Mott MacDonald.[50] In preliminary hearings the two architecture practices which worked for Multiplex on the project were ordered to allow Multiplex access to their records in order for them to build a case. The practices, Foster + Partners and Populous, estimated the costs of providing access and answering Multiplex's queries at £5 million.[51] The case was not due to be heard until January 2011.[52] Mott MacDonald has issued a counter-claim for unpaid fees of £250,000.[50] The dispute between Multiplex (now known as Brookfield) and Mott MacDonald was settled out of court in June 2010, the judge having warned that costs were likely to be more than £74 million.[53]

Multiplex also took the original steel contractor, Cleveland Bridge, to court to claim up to £38 million[54] compensation for costs resulting from Cleveland Bridge walking away from the job. Cleveland Bridge, in turn, claimed up to £15 million from Multiplex. The case was finally resolved in September 2008 with Cleveland Bridge ordered to pay £6.1 million in damages and 20% of Multiplex's costs after the court found Cleveland Bridge was in the wrong to walk off site. The judge criticised both sides for allowing the case to reach court, pointing out that total costs were £22 million, including £1 million for photocopying.[55] Multiplex's ultimate bill is estimated to be over £10 million.

Multiplex is also contesting a claim from its concrete contractor, PC Harrington, that Multiplex owes £13.4 million to PC Harrington.[56]

Tenants[edit | edit source]

Wembley Stadium during the 2007 Race of Champions

The English national football team is a major user of Wembley Stadium. Given the ownership by The Football Association as of 10 March 2007, the League Cup final moved back to Wembley from Cardiff following the FA Cup final and FA Community Shield. Other showpiece football matches that were previously staged at Wembley, such as the Football League promotion play-offs and the Football League Trophy final, have returned to the stadium, as has the Football Conference play-off final. Additionally, the Rugby League Challenge Cup final returned to Wembley Stadium in 2007, and the stadium also hosted both semi-finals of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. The new Wembley was a significant part of the plan for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; the stadium was the site of several games in both the men's and women's football tournaments, with the finals being held there.[57] Additionally, Wembley is one of the 13 2015 Rugby World Cup venues.

Logo of the FA as displayed on the exterior of Wembley Stadium

The Race of Champions staged their 2007[58] and 2008 events at the stadium.[59]

Wembley Stadium during the London 2012 Olympic Games football tournament

Wembley has had a long association with American Football. A United States Football League game was staged there in 1984,[60] and between 1986 and 1993 the old Wembley stadium hosted eight National Football League exhibition games featuring 13 different NFL teams.[61] Since the new Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 Wembley has hosted games during the NFL regular season. As a result of this, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated in October 2009 that "he expects the NFL will start playing multiple regular-season games in Britain in the next few years, an expansion that could lead to putting a franchise in London."[62] On 20 January 2012, the league announced that the St. Louis Rams would become a temporary tenant of Wembley Stadium, playing an annual game at the stadium every year from 2012 to 2014; part of the reason the Rams were chosen was the fact that the team is owned by Stan Kroenke, who also is majority shareholder in a local Premier League team, Arsenal.[63] However, the Rams later cancelled their 2013–2014 games,[64] leading to the Jacksonville Jaguars becoming new temporary tenants and hosting games in London from 2013–2016.[65] This was later extended to 2020.[66]

American football[edit | edit source]

Build up to the 2010 game between Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers

On 28 October 2007, in front of 81,176 fans, the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins by a score of 13–10 in the first regular season NFL game ever to be played in Europe, and the first outside of North America.[67] The first touchdown scored at Wembley was on a run by Giants' quarterback Eli Manning. The NFL have hosted at least one regular season game a year at Wembley since.

On 21 August 2012 the Jacksonville Jaguars announced a four-year deal to become temporary tenants of Wembley by playing one regular season game each year between 2013 and 2016 and becoming the first team to return to Wembley in consecutive years[68]

On 16 October 2012 the NFL announced there were to be two NFL regular season games played at Wembley Stadium during the 2013 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings on 29 September 2013 and the San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars on 27 October 2013. This is an attempt by the NFL to strengthen the NFL fanbase in London and internationally. Future plans to have a permanent NFL team in London may come to fruition considering the coming years of growth.[69]

Another first was recorded in 2014 as three regular season NFL games were played at Wembley. The Oakland Raiders hosted the Miami Dolphins on 28 September at 6 pm BST, the Atlanta Falcons hosted the Detroit Lions on 26 October at 1:30 pm GMT and the Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Dallas Cowboys on 9 November at 6 pm GMT.[70] At 9:30 am ET, the Detroit-Atlanta game was the earliest kick off in NFL history and gave fans a unique four game window on this day.[71]

In 2015 another first was recorded as the first ever divisional match took place at Wembley between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

References[edit | edit source]

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