Walkers Stadium: Wikis

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The Walkers Stadium
Filbert Way, The Walkers
WalkerStadium.jpg
Full name The Walkers Stadium
Location Filbert Way, Leicester, England LE2 7FL
Coordinates 52°37′13″N 1°8′32″W / 52.62028°N 1.14222°W / 52.62028; -1.14222Coordinates: 52°37′13″N 1°8′32″W / 52.62028°N 1.14222°W / 52.62028; -1.14222
Built 2002
Opened 2002
Owner Teachers Insurance
Capacity 32,500
Field dimensions 110 x 76 yards
Tenants
Leicester City (2002–present)

The Walkers Stadium is a football stadium which hosts home matches of English football team Leicester City F.C. The all-seater stadium, inaugurated in July 2002, holds 32,500 and is named in a ten-year deal after crisp manufacturers Walkers, a former shirt sponsor of Leicester. It offers unobstructed views from every seat. On a national scale it is the 19th largest stadium in England. The stadium was the centrepiece of Leicester's application to be part of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup. If chosen to host World Cup matches the ground would be expanded to seat over 50,000 spectators, but the bid was rejected in December 2009.

Contents

History

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Background and construction

Leicester's previous stadium was at nearby Filbert Street. As a result of the success of Leicester during the late 1990s and the increasing popularity of football, the club outgrew Filbert Street to the extent that nearly every home game was a 21,500 sell-out. Some parts of the ground — the East and North Stands in particular — were also somewhat outdated, which led the manager, Martin O'Neill to joke that when he showed Filbert Street to new signings he led them backwards out of the players tunnel to prevent them from seeing the East Stand.

After an abortive attempt to build a new 40,000 all-seater stadium at Bede Island South, the club turned their attention to Freemans Wharf, a 22-acre (9 ha) former power station site about 200 yards south of Filbert Street. Planning permission was granted for a 32,500 all-seater stadium designed by the Miller Partnership in November 2000 and construction began in June 2001. The stadium was completed on time in 2002, ready for Leicester to take up residence for the start of the 2002–03 season. It is one of only a handful of stadium's outside of the premiership that has under-soil heating.

The record attendance for football is 32,148 for Leicester City v Newcastle Utd in 2003.[1] The overall record attendance is 32,488 for a rugby union match between Leicester Tigers and Bath in 2006. This is because football matches require segregation between home and away fans, something that was not needed at this rugby game.[2]

Opening

The stadium was officially opened by former Leicester striker Gary Lineker on 23 July 2002. He used a giant pair of scissors to cut a ribbon on the pitch after arriving at the stadium in a Walkers lorry. The first game at the new stadium was a friendly against Spanish team Athletic Bilbao, on 4 August 2002. The game finished 1-1, with Tiko scoring the first goal at the stadium, and Jordan Stewart scoring Leicester's first goal. The attendance was approximately 24,000 (no official figure was recorded due to a computer problem). The first competitive match took place six days later and Leicester beat Watford 2-0 in front of a near-capacity crowd of 31,022. Brian Deane scored both goals, including the stadium's first in competitive games. Leicester ended the 2002–03 season promoted back to the Premier League, losing just two home games in the season.

Ownership

The £37 million cost of the new stadium, combined with relegation from the Premiership, the collapse of the English transfer market due to the introduction of the transfer window and the collapse of ITV Digital meant that Leicester went into receivership shortly after moving to the new stadium. Birse Construction who had built the stadium therefore lost a large part of their fee, and they withdrew from any further football ground construction. The main losers from this were, ironically, Leicester's local rivals Coventry City, who were in negotiations with Birse to build their own new stadium.

As part of the deal which brought the club out of receivership, the ownership of the stadium reverted to American company Teachers Insurance, who had supplied £28 million via a bond scheme towards the stadium's construction, with the club taking a long-term lease while the bond repayments were made.

The future

In October 2006, Milan Mandarić reportedly offered £25 million to buy Leicester City. This was said to include £15 million to buy back the stadium from its current owners. Mandarić stated in the local newspaper, The Leicester Mercury, that he envisioned Leicester City becoming a powerful club and the stadium, possibly within the next few years, could have a capacity of 45,000. The stadium at full strength (if renovated to full potential) could hold up to 55,000. However, this would only happen if Leicester became a regular top-six Premier League side, according to LCFC.

Naming

The stadium from the Grand Union Canal

In 2002, former Leicester City shirt sponsors Walkers signed a ten-year deal for naming rights. The agreement was superseded halfway through the period, in May 2007, when they again paid a "seven-figure sum" to extend their sponsorship of the stadium until 2017.[3] Originally the ground was to have been called the "Walkers Bowl", but that name was dropped after a fans' petition against it. Fans criticised the name for having only the name of the sponsor in it, and no Leicester City reference, such as "filbert," or "fosse", while some fans objected to "Walker's Bowl" on the grounds that they thought it was ridiculous and too "American". As a result of the petition, the name was quickly changed to the "Walkers Stadium"; however, some fans are still unhappy with the name, and it is still sometimes referred to (usually derogatively) as the "crisp bowl", in reference to Walkers best known products. Many fans refer to the stadium as Filbert Way after the grounds address, retaining a link with the past.

Notable games

Football

During their absence from Wembley Stadium, the England national football team played a home friendly game against Serbia and Montenegro at the stadium on 3 June 2003. Goals from Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole gave England a 2-1 victory. On 12 October of the same year, the ground hosted an international friendly match between Brazil and Jamaica, with Roberto Carlos scoring the winner.

On 20 May 2006, the stadium hosted the Football Conference playoff final between Hereford United and Halifax Town. A goal in extra time gave Hereford a 3-2 win and promotion to the Football League. Nine days later, the ground was also the venue for another international friendly, with Ghana beating Jamaica 4-1.

On 12 October 2007, the England Under-21 side took on Serbia and Montenegro U21. The game ended with England winning 1-0 after a Matt Derbyshire goal in the first half.

International matches

Date Result Competition
3 June 2003  England 2-1  Serbia and Montenegro Friendly
12 October 2003  Jamaica 0-1  Brazil Friendly
29 May 2006  Jamaica 1-4  Ghana Friendly

Rugby

In 2004, the United Kingdom's best supported rugby club, Leicester Tigers considered sharing the stadium with Leicester City as their own 16,815-capacity ground at Welford Road was considered too small to handle the growing popularity of rugby. The plan would have seen the two clubs form a jointly owned company to buy the stadium from Teachers. The deal was abandoned in 2005 as the clubs failed to fully agree terms. Because of the continued parlous state of the football club's finances, rumours that groundsharing was still being discussed continued to circulate, with some suggestions that Tigers were considering buying the stadium outright from Teachers. In 2007 a permanent groundshare seemed to be ruled out as Leicester Tigers received planning consent for a major expansion of their own Welford Road venue. This is now confirmed with work commencing on a new 10,500-seat stand which will take Welford Road to a capacity of 24,500.

However, Tigers have played six matches at the stadium, either to capitalise on the larger capacity with the greater interest in high-profile games or when competition rules demanded that the match be played away from their normal home ground. The first match was a Heineken Cup semi-final on 24 April 2005, Tigers losing 27-19 to Toulouse. This game attracted a near-capacity crowd of 31,883. On 1 April 2006 Tigers lost 15-12 to Bath in a Heineken Cup quarter final, in front of a sell-out crowd of 32,500 which is the record attendance for the stadium. This is unlikely to be equalled for a football match, unless the stadium is expanded, because of crowd segregation requirements. The poor performances by the team in these matches led some Tigers supporters to complain that the stadium was "jinxed" and called for Tigers not to play there in future. However, the third Heineken Cup game there on the 21 April 2007, saw Tigers beat Llanelli Scarlets 33-17, at the European Cup semi final stage. With the expansion of Welford Road under way it is likely that the only rugby games to be played at the Walkers Stadium in future will be European Cup semi-finals when Leicester Tigers are drawn at "home" which enables them to propose a suitable English venue away from their home ground. The Tigers played their fourth game the Walkers Stadium on 11 April 2009, another Heineken Cup quarter final against Bath which they won. They also played the last home game of the 2008–09 season and the play off semi-final of the Guinness Premiership due to the demolition of the old Caterpillar Stand at Welford Road.

On 3 December 2006 South Africa played a game against a World XV to mark the centenary of the Springboks' first game abroad.[4]

References

  1. ^ "Walkers Stadium" StadiumGuide.com (Retrieved: 11 August 2009)
  2. ^ "Leicester 12-15 Bath" BBC.co.uk (News), 1 April 2006 (Retrieved: 11 August 2009)
  3. ^ "Allen Named New Foxes Manager" LCFC.co.uk, 30 May 2007 (Retrieved: 11 August 2009)
  4. ^ "Marshall to play for World side" BBC.co.uk (News), 24 October 2006 (Retrieved: 11 August 2009)

External links


Simple English

The Walkers Stadium is a football stadium in Leicester, England, where Leicester City Football Club play their home football matches. It can have up to 32,500 people inside it.


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