September 25, 2002

National Stadiums? Who needs 'em?: After a couple of years of thumb-twiddling, and political backbiting to rank alongside the Millennium Dome, the British Government has given the go-ahead for a 750m stadium to replace the old (and now disused) Wembley. No matter that the north-west London venue has always been plagued by access problems, or that the success of Manchester's Commonwealth Games this year proved that you could host an event in England, but not in London. It's a bitter outcome for those who campaigned for a stadium near Birmingham, in the centre of the country; and perhaps more bitter still for those sceptical of the whole concept of a 'national' stadium. Sydney's Olympic stadium is run-down and unused, while the US, Italy and Germany do fine without one. Another waste of money?

posted by etagloh to culture at 08:50 AM - 10 comments

Frankly I can see the UK getting more use out of a National Stadium than someplace much larger, i.e. the USA. Nobody on this side of the pond travels to sporting events except for the Championships. And the country is far too large to expect people to fly 2500 miles to see Winona Ryder in concert or something. Besides, here it would be named AOL Time-Warner Mc Wal-Stadium or something rancid such as that.

posted by Ufez Jones at 10:10 AM on September 25, 2002

The FA should have paid 5 teams to expand their stadiums to arounds 75,000. Those teams then pay the FA a proportion of gate money above their cuppent capacity. It's a similar arrangement to what Manchester City have with Machester City Council.

posted by salmacis at 03:48 PM on September 25, 2002

You're right, Ufez, that the idea of a national stadium in the US would be a non-starter: the country works through a certain decentralisation (finance in NYC, govt. in DC, computing in Silicon Valley and Seattle etc). The US doesn't have enough international sport, anyway. The only good example of a national stadium project working in Europe is the Stade de France, and that's because it was done the French way: lots of money up front, no faffing about with plans or questions about 'usage', and done by the state rather than, say, Ken Bates and his mates. I'm with salmacis here: though I'd have liked to have seen the City of Manchester stadium keep its running track, even if it were removable. But anything to get sport away from London.

posted by etagloh at 04:25 PM on September 25, 2002

I disagree with the comment that the Sydney Olympic Stadium is run-down and unused. I have been to numerous sporting event out there this year including the Rugby Leauge double header, a couple of Sydney Swans AFL games, and a Rugby Union match or two. They have recently reduced the size to 80,000 down from 110,000, but say that is unused is wrong. In October next year it will host a hell of alot of Rugby Union games for the 2003 World Cup. Alot of teams from different sports who have thier own home ground such as the Sydney Cricket Ground or Sydney Football Stadium often play season openers or special matches out there as it is much easier to get to than alot of the other sporting venues in Sydney.

posted by Major at 10:17 PM on September 25, 2002

etagloh: The City of Manchester stadium was always a non-starter as far as a national stadium was concerned. Removing the running track allowed them to increase capacity from around 34,000 to 48,000.

posted by salmacis at 03:01 AM on September 26, 2002

I'm disappointed to see that Birmingham's bid was ignored, despite the fact that it was head and shoulders above the Wembley bid (costs half as much, fantastic transportation links, good parking facilities, etc.).

posted by BigCalm at 03:25 AM on September 26, 2002

salmacis: sure, it would never make a 'national stadium', but a 34,000 athletics stadium is more than enough to host an international athletics event. Had we not fucked up the whole IAAF/London bid, I'm not impressed with the whole idea of 'one national stadium to rule them all'. It just suggests a distaste for the 40 million in England (and 50 million in Britain) who don't regard a trip outside Underground Zone 4 as a foreign expedition.

posted by etagloh at 08:25 AM on September 26, 2002

Mark my words it will be a chuffin disaster and a hell hole, but we will hear little of it. I hated the old shithole and the new one will be no better, just newer. Having been to the Millenium Stadium several times, for both Wales and Birmingham games it is miles better, mainly because it is smack bang in the middle of the city. At the play off final last year we sat in a very good Italian at midday and had some good scoff and wine before walking around the corner and having a few pints with a mixed bag of football fans, all within minutes of the stadium. It all added up to and contributed to a special day. You have no chance of anything like it in North London. I cannot see why they couldn't have kept playing cup finals at Cardiff and touring the national team around the country, which has been successful. Then they could have given all those millions to me.

posted by Fat Buddha at 12:28 PM on September 26, 2002

<troll>but bigcalm, it was in birmingham...</troll>

posted by nedrichards at 07:20 PM on September 28, 2002

(technically it's in Solihull actually). Let's face it though, it could have been worse, it could have been in Liverpool...

posted by BigCalm at 07:57 AM on September 30, 2002

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.