Take Five: the largest sports stadiums in Europe
Massive Camp Nou a fittingly grand home for magical Messi and Barcelona
1 Camp Nou
Home to Barcelona FC, Camp Nou was built between 1954 and 1957 and extended in 1982. The stadium’s capacity has varied over the years, opening at 106,146 but – after its redevelopment ahead of the 1982 World Cup – growing to a capacity of 121,401. The record attendance for a match was for Barcelona’s European Cup quarter-final with Juventus in 1986, which attracted a crowd of 120,000. The stadium underwent a face-lift in 1993-94 during which the pitch was lowered by 2.5 metres and the standing room removed and replaced by more seating.
The old stadium was demolished in the period 2002/03 but its reconstruction was bedevilled by numerous issues – among them financial – and the new stadium didn’t open until 2007. The all-seater stadium is a bowl design that features a sliding roof that does not completely enclose it and can be adapted to an athletics stadium (with reduced capacity of 60,000) by the erection of a temporary platform. The feature of the stadium is the Wembley Archway, which is the world’s longest unsupported roof structure. The largest attendance at a football match was the 89,874 crowd which watched Cardiff FC play Portsmouth in the 2008 FA Cup final . . . . however, an Adele concert in 2017 drew a crowd of 98,000!
3 Croke Park
Although a sporting site since the 1880s, the ground on Jones’ Road was exclusively acquired by the GAA in 1913 and underwent a major redesign in four phases in a 14-year period from 1994 to 2008. Phase One involved the rebuilding of the Cusack Stand, followed by the Davin Stand (replacing the Canal End terrace) in Phase Two, then the reconstruction of the Hogan Stand and finally the construction of the Nally and Hill 16 terrace. The record attendance at the old Croke Park was the 90,556 which attended the 1961 All-Ireland football final between Down and Offaly.
Home to the English Rugby Union since the old ground was opened in 1907, Twickenham had undergone numerous redevelopments through the years. The most recent upgrade took place over a gradual period from 1990 up to 2006 which saw the building of in-turn the North Stand, the East Stand, the West Stand and finally the South Stand which increased the stadium’s all-seater capacity to 82,000. It is also home to the World Rugby Museum.
Also known as Signal Iduna Park, the stadium – the home ground of Borussia Dortmund – was originally built as one of the host venues for the 1974 World Cup. At that time, the stadium consisted of one tier which had a capacity of 54,000 (of which 37,000 standing). Over the period from 1994 to 2003, the stadium underwent further redevelopment with the construction of second tiers on three stands while the 25,000 South Stand is the largest terrace in Europe.