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City of Manchester Stadium
Mcfc stad pano.jpg
UEFA Elite Stadium
Location Sportcity, Rowsley St, Manchester M11 3FF
Coordinates 53°28′59″N 2°12′1″W / 53.48306°N 2.20028°W / 53.48306; -2.20028Coordinates: 53°28′59″N 2°12′1″W / 53.48306°N 2.20028°W / 53.48306; -2.20028
Broke ground 1999
Opened 25 July, 2002 (Athletics)
10 August, 2003 (Football)
Owner Manchester City Council
Operator Manchester City F.C.
Surface Grass
Construction cost £110 million
Architect Arup Associates
Capacity 47,726[1]
Field dimensions 105 by 68 metres (344 ft × 223 ft)
2002 Commonwealth Games
Manchester City F.C. (2003–present)

The City of Manchester Stadium, also known as COMS or Eastlands,[2][3] is a stadium in Manchester, England. Originally designed as part of Manchester's failed bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics, the stadium was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games at a cost of £110 million. After the Games, it was converted for use as a football ground and became the home of Manchester City F.C., which moved there from Maine Road in 2003 after signing a 250-year lease.[4]

The stadium is bowl-shaped, with two tiers all the way around the ground and a third tier along the two side stands. As of 1 July 2009, it is the fourth-largest stadium in the FA Premier League and the 12th-largest in the United Kingdom, with a seating capacity of 47,726. The highest attendance for a football game at the stadium was on 5 December 2009 when 47,348 fans watched Manchester City play Chelsea. On 14 May 2008, it hosted the UEFA Cup Final.



Plans to build a stadium in east Manchester were formulated around 1990 as part of the city's bid to host the 2000 Summer Olympics; Manchester City Council commissioned a design for an 80,000 capacity stadium on a brownfield site known colloquially as Eastlands. However, in October 1993 the games were awarded to Sydney, Australia. Manchester subsequently made a successful bid to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games, using the stadium plans from the Olympic bid. In 1996, the planned stadium competed with Wembley Stadium to gain funding to become the national stadium, but the money was used to redevelop Wembley. The stadium's foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in December 1999,[5] and construction began in January 2000.[6] The stadium was designed by Arup and constructed by John Laing at a cost of approximately £110 million, £77 million of which was provided by Sport England, with the remainder funded by Manchester City Council.[7] For the Commonwealth Games, the stadium featured a single lower tier running around three sides of the athletics track, and second tiers to the two sides, with an open-air temporary stand at one end. The first public event at the stadium was the opening ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games on 25 July 2002. Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony was Queen Elizabeth II. During the ten days of competition, the stadium hosted all athletics events and the rugby sevens. Four Commonwealth records were set at the stadium, including the women's triple jump and the women's 5000 m.[8]

A fully occupied grandstand on a sunny day. In front of it is an athletics track.
City of Manchester Stadium during the 2002 Commonwealth Games, with two tiers of permanent seating
Roughly the same camera position shows grass up to the blue seats of the stands. The stand is now split into three tiers of permanent seating.
...and after redevelopment into a football stadium, with three tiers of seating

After the Commonwealth Games, extensive work was carried out on the stadium to convert it for use as a football stadium. Following the success of athletics events at the Commonwealth Games, the decision to convert the stadium into a football venue received criticism from athletics figures such as Jonathan Edwards and Sebastian Coe,[9] but redevelopment was deemed necessary to give the venue a financially viable long-term future. Sections of the track were removed and relaid at other athletics venues,[10] and the ground level was lowered to make way for an additional tier of seating. The temporary stand was dismantled, and replaced with a permanent structure of similar design to the existing one at the southern end. This extensive work took a year and added 12,000 seats. Manchester City F.C. moved to the new ground for the 2003–04 season. The conversion cost in excess of £30 million, funded by the football club.[11]

The first public football match at the stadium was a friendly between Manchester City and Barcelona on 10 August 2003. Manchester City won the game 2–1, with the first goal at the stadium scored by Nicolas Anelka.[12] The first competitive match followed four days later, a UEFA Cup contest between Manchester City and Welsh Premier League side TNS, which City won 5–0.[12] Having started the Premier League season with an away match, beating Charlton 3-0, Manchester City's first home league match in their new stadium was not until 23 August. They drew 1-1 with Portsmouth, with David Sommeil cancelling out a goal by Portsmouth's Yakubu Aiyegbeni.[13] Their first Premier League win did not come until 14 September, with a Nicolas Anelka hat-trick meaning City beat Aston Villa 4-1.[14] The record football attendance at the stadium is 47,348, which was set at a Premier League game against Chelsea on 05 December 2009.[15]

The stadium has also hosted several other sporting events. It became the 50th stadium to host an England international football match when the English and Japanese national teams played on 1 June 2004, and on 30 October of that year it played host to a rugby league match between Great Britain and Australia in the Tri-Nations series. In June 2005 the stadium hosted England's opening game in the UEFA Women's Championship, setting an attendance record for the competition.[16] It is rated as an elite stadium by UEFA, and it hosted the 2008 UEFA Cup Final between Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg.[17]

Average League attendances
Season Average
2008–09 42,887
2007–08 42,077
2006–07 39,997
2005–06 42,856
2004–05 45,192
2003–04 46,384

The stadium has a number of unofficial alternative names. Eastlands was used before the stadium was officially named and is still in common use, and City of Manchester Stadium is sometimes abbreviated to COMS when written. The Blue Camp, a pun on Barcelona's Nou Camp, found little favour.[18] After the club was taken over by the Emirati Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 some supporters jokingly referred to the stadium as Middle Eastlands.[19] The stadium has generally received positive feedback from fans, coming second behind Old Trafford in a 2005 poll to find the United Kingdom's favourite football ground.[20] As Manchester City Council own the stadium it is also referred to by the red half of Manchester as the 'Council House'.

The stadium is currently owned by Manchester City Council and is leased by the football club. The 2008 takeover made the football club the richest in the world,[21] prompting suggestions that the club could consider buying the stadium outright.[22]

Structure and facilities

A grey stadium exterior with glass fronting. Adjoining it is a spiral walkway made of concrete, rising almost to the full height of the structure.
The exterior of the stadium. Steel cables hold the roof in place.

The interior of the City of Manchester Stadium is a continuous oval bowl, with three tiers of seating at the sides, and two tiers at each end. While the seating is continuous, each side of the stadium has its own name in the manner of a traditional football ground. Initially, all sides of the stadium were named by compass direction (North Stand and South Stand for the ends, East Stand and West Stand for the sides).[23] In February 2004, following a vote by fans, the West Stand was renamed the Colin Bell Stand in honour of the former player.[24] The vote was almost annulled, as it was hijacked by rival fans in the hope the stand would be nick named "The Bell End" (even though the stand is to the side, not at an end). However, fans of the club made it clear they wanted the name to stay. [25] The South Stand was officially named the Key 103 Stand for sponsorship reasons from 2003 to 2006,[26] though this designation was largely ignored by supporters. A portion of the North Stand is designated the Family Stand, and is reserved for supporters with children. The East Stand is unofficially known to fans as the Kippax after the corresponding stand at Maine Road.[27] Supporters of visiting teams are allocated part of the South Stand. There are 68 executive boxes within the stadium,[28] located along the West, North and East Stands.

The stadium roof is toroidal in shape, and is suspended from steel cables attached to eight towers, which provide access to the upper tiers of seating via spiral ramps. The areas without seating in each corner have moveable louvres to allow for the ventilation of the pitch.[29] Entry is gained by contactless smart card rather than the traditional manned turnstile. This system can admit up to 1,200 people per minute around all entrances.[30] A service tunnel running under the stadium provides access for emergency vehicles, and allows the visiting team's coach to enter the stadium directly. Inside the stadium are six themed restaurants, two of which have views of the pitch, and a number of conference facilities. The stadium is also licensed for marriage ceremonies.[31]

The City of Manchester Stadium has a UEFA standard dimension pitch, 105 by 68 metres (344 ft × 223 ft), and features a natural grass pitch reinforced with artificial grass fibres made by Desso. There are 218 floodlights in the stadium each using 2000 watts. In total they consume 436,000 watts when they are all on.[32]

A straight tarmac road. At the head of the road is a stadium with a bowl-shaped outline, surrounded by a number of masts, with cables running to the stadium roof
Joe Mercer Way at The City of Manchester Stadium, the home of Manchester City FC

The stadium is the centrepiece of an area known as Sportcity, which also includes several other sporting venues. Adjacent to the stadium is the Manchester Regional Arena, which served as a warm-up track during the Commonwealth Games, and is now a 6,178 capacity venue that hosts national athletics trials and Manchester City reserve team games.[33] The Manchester Velodrome and the National Squash Centre are a short distance from the stadium. In September 2006, Manchester City received planning permission to build an 85-metre (279 ft) wind turbine at the stadium. Designed by Norman Foster, the turbine was intended to provide power for the stadium and nearby homes, but safety concerns about ice on the blades led to the proposal being dropped.[34] From 2005 to 2009 a Thomas Heatherwick sculpture, B of the Bang, was present in front of the stadium. Built to commemorate the success of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, it was the tallest sculpture in the UK. However, structural problems led to the sculpture being dismantled in 2009.[35]

The City of Manchester Stadium has won a number of design awards, including the 2004 Royal Institute of British Architects Inclusive Design Award for inclusive building design,[36] and the 2003 Institution of Structural Engineers Structural Special Award.[37]

On 30 January 2007 it was announced that the UK's first Super Casino would be built in the Sportcity area close to the stadium;[38] plans for this have since been abandoned, after it failed to receive authorisation from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.[39]


The City of Manchester Stadium is located to the east of Manchester city centre. The stadium site itself has 2,000 parking spaces, with another 8,000 spaces in the surrounding area provided by local businesses and schools working in partnership with the football club.[40] The nearest railway station is Ashburys, a 20-minute walk south of the stadium,[40] though services are limited due to the small size of the station. Manchester Piccadilly, which serves mainline trains from London, Birmingham and Edinburgh, is a 30-minute signposted walk away. Several special bus services serve the stadium when events take place.[41]

An extension to the Metrolink tram system with a stop at the stadium was announced in 2000, but following a government spending review the plan was put on hold in July 2004.[42] However, in July 2006 funding for the extension was reinstated, but for a shorter length;[43] a Sportcity Metrolink station will open in 2012.[44]


Outside the football season the stadium hosts occasional concerts, and is one of the UK's largest music venues, having a maximum capacity of 60,000 for performances.[7] The first concert at the venue was a performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers who were supported by James Brown in 2004.[10] Local band and vocal Manchester City supporters Oasis have played concerts at the stadium, one of which was featured on their DVD Lord Don't Slow Me Down.[45] Another Manchester act, Take That, also released a DVD of their performance at the stadium, Take That: The Ultimate Tour.[46] Other artists who have played the stadium are U2, Rod Stewart, Foo Fighters supported by Manic Street Preachers and The Futureheads, Bon Jovi,

Summer activities such as concerts and boxing matches often take a toll on the pitch. In 2008, end of season renovation, coupled with an early start to the football season, meant the pitch was not ready in time for the first home fixture. As a result, Manchester City played their UEFA Cup first round qualifying match at Barnsley's Oakwell Stadium.[47]


  1. ^ "Stadium History". Manchester City Football Club. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008.{20E7C2B7-4832-46D1-B772-AB8CCA2FD0D5}. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "COMS return for Bon Jovi". CityLife. MEN Media. Retrieved 1 September 2008. 
  3. ^ Whalley, Mike (21 June 2008). "Rossoneri set for Eastlands". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 1 September 2008. 
  4. ^ Bailey, Chris (8 November 2006). "Why Blues must cash in on name game". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 22 April 2008. 
  5. ^ Hubbard, Alan (12 December 1999). "City of Manchester Stadium: The Wembley rescuers". The Independent. Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  6. ^ "City of Manchester Stadium". Centre for Accessible Environments. Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 22 July 2006. 
  7. ^ a b "City of Manchester Stadium". Commonwealth Games Legacy. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  8. ^ Schooler, Andy. "Land of Hope and Glory". Sporting Life. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  9. ^ "Athletics' stadium claim is pipe dream". BBC News. 31 July 2002. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  10. ^ a b "City of Manchester Stadium". Commonwealth Games Legacy. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  11. ^ James (2008), p. 391.
  12. ^ a b James (2006), p. 103.
  13. ^ "Premiership round-up". The Telegraph. 23 August 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "Anelka hat-trick sinks Villa". BBC Sport. 14 September 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  15. ^ "Club Records". Manchester City v Portsmouth match programme. 21 September 2008. p. 43. 
  16. ^ "For the Record". Northwich Guardian. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  17. ^ "Man City stadium gets Uefa final". BBC News. 4 October 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2006. 
  18. ^ Bailey, Chris (8 August 2003). "Kev plans glory for Blue Camp". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 19 October 2006. 
  19. ^ "Man City set sights on trophies". BBC News. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2008. 
  20. ^ "Old Trafford 'UK's favourite football ground'". Life Style Extra. Archived from the original on 4 November 2005. Retrieved 19 September 2006. 
  21. ^ Evans, Martin (2 September 2008). "Man City tops football rich league with Arab takeover". Daily Express. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  22. ^ Qureshi, Yakub (2 September 2008). "The new football powerhouse". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  23. ^ James (2006), pp. 103–105.
  24. ^ "Stand Named After Colin Bell". Manchester City Football Club. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007.{DBD12D53-8346-431D-A04F-5D0F8664DE80}&newsid=189702&siteid=&pageno=16&newscategory=1051&frommonth=1&fromyear=2004&tomonth=2&toyear=2004. Retrieved 22 July 2006. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Official Sponsors". Manchester City Football Club. Archived from the original on 16 April 2007.{040DB726-0BEA-42EB-B38A-7911B5205ADE}&pcpageid=14729. Retrieved 22 July 2006. 
  27. ^ James (2006), p. 105.
  28. ^ Martin Dillon (18 December 2001). "City fans kick off rush for stadium seats". Manchester Evening News. 
  29. ^ "Designing the City of Manchester Stadium" (PDF). Arup Associates. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  30. ^ "Manchester City kicks off innovative smartcard services and sponsorships with wireless, RF-enabled Intelligent Stadium" (PDF). Hewlett-Packard. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  31. ^ Camber, Rebecca (7 February 2004). "Blue-heaven wedding". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 28 August 2006. 
  32. ^ Reynolds, John (14 May 2008). "UEFA Cup Final Venue (Mad for it)". Pitchcare. pp. 14–18. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  33. ^ Inglis, Simon (2004). Played in Manchester. London: English Heritage. ISBN 1-873592-78-7. 
  34. ^ "City stadium turbine plan backed". BBC News. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2006. 
  35. ^ "Work starts on Bang dismantling". BBC. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009. 
  36. ^ "Building prize for 'icon Gherkin'". BBC News. 16 October 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  37. ^ "City of Manchester Stadium: awards". Arup Associates. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  38. ^ "Manchester wins super-casino race". BBC News. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2007. 
  39. ^ "Manchester's 'Supercasino' Plans Bust". Sky News. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2009. 
  40. ^ a b "Away travel: How to get to the City of Manchester Stadium". Liverpool FC. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  41. ^ "City of Manchester Stadium". Footballgroundguide. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  42. ^ Satchell, Clarissa (20 july 2004). "End of the line for Big Bang tram plan". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 23 July 2006. 
  43. ^ "Metrolink—the little Bang?". BBC News. 23 June 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  44. ^ "All change on Metrolink". BBC News. 3 April 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  45. ^ Lawrence Poole (25 October 2007). "Oasis – Lord Don’t Slow Me Down". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  46. ^ Chris Long (22 November 2006). "Take That – The Ultimate Tour". BBC. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  47. ^ "Oakwell confirmed as UEFA Cup venue". Manchester City Football Club. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 


  • James, Gary (2008). Manchester—A Football History. Halifax: James Ward. ISBN 978-0-9558127-0-5. 
  • James, Gary (2006). Manchester City – The Complete Record. Derby: Breedon. ISBN 1-85983-512-0. 

Further reading

  • The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture - Comprehensive Edition. Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-4312-1. 
  • The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture - Travel Edition. Phaidon Press. 2005. ISBN 0-7148-4450-0. 

External links

Preceded by
Hampden Park
Final Venue

Succeeded by
Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadyumu

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