St James’ Park Stadium is the name of a football stadium in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It is the eighth largest football stadium in England and the home of Premier League team Newcastle United F.C. with a seating capacity of 52,305.
Newcastle UTD FC has called St James’ Park home since 1892, and football has been played there since 1880. Conflict with locals and the council has always resulted from the company’s desire for expansion. This prompted at least two relocation proposals in the late 1960s, as well as a contentious 1995 proposal to relocate to nearby Leazes Park. The stadium’s current asymmetrical stands have a distinctly lopsided appearance due to reluctance to move.
In addition to club football, St James’ Park has served as a venue for international football, the 2012 Olympics, the rugby league Magic Weekend, the rugby union World Cup, Premiership games, England Test matches, charity football events, rock concerts, and sets for movies and reality TV.
History on the St James’ Park Stadium
The land that is now known as St. James’ Park was formerly used for grazing and was owned by the city’s Freemen. Georgian Leazes Terrace and the nearby historic Town Moor later had an impact on how the land was developed, and the local council served as the ground landlord. Architect Thomas Oliver and builder Richard Grainger, two well-known residents of Newcastle, constructed Leazes Terrace around 1830. The Grade 1 listed building, which was once home to Newcastle’s high society, is now being used by Newcastle University as self-catering postgraduate student housing after undergoing recent renovations. The location was also close to the city’s gallows, which were last in use in 1844 and gave the Gallowgate End its name.
Newcastle Rangers were the first football team to play at St James’ Park in 1880. They relocated to a field at Byker in 1882, made a brief return to St. James’ Park in 1884, and then disbanded that same year. In 1886, Newcastle West End took control of the facility. West End was disbanded in 1892 and essentially merged into rival Newcastle East End, who later that year took over the lease on St. James’ Park and changed its name to Newcastle United. Newcastle East End played its first game on the football field on September 3, 1892. Since the first Football League games after the construction of the first small stand at the Gallowgate End, locals have opposed football games being played at St James’. In 1899, the Gallowgate and additional stands were renovated, increasing the first official capacity to 30,000. (standing).
Newcastle United played there in red and white until 1904, despite the stadium’s current association with the Black and Whites. With a main stand on Barrack Road (now Milburn Stand) and significant other stands, the stadium’s capacity was doubled to 60,000 in 1905, creating a cutting-edge structure that included a swimming pool.
The venue hosted the second-ever rugby league test match, which Great Britain won for the first time in test history on January 23, 1909, against the visiting Australian Kangaroos team.
Famous football architect Archibald Leitch designed a double-tiered stand between 1920 and 1930. However, following planning disputes, only a small roof covering the Leazes Terrace side was completed (Sir John Hall Stand). Floodlights were built in the 1950s, and the first game under them was played on February 25, 1953, against Celtic.
Planning issues persisted up until the 1960s, eventually leading to the lack of stadium development being cited as the cause of Newcastle United’s failure to win the right to host a World Cup group stage in 1966 as a result of political disputes.
Late in the 1960s, the council proposed a multi-use sports development of St. James’ Park as part of ongoing efforts to develop the property. This was dismissed as being unprofitable. The club prepared plans for a possible relocation to a stadium in Gosforth or even a ground-sharing arrangement with Sunderland A.F.C. in a brand-new stadium on Wearside. These plans were abandoned in 1971 after Denis Howell, the then-minister for sport, successfully brokered a deal to redevelop St. James’ Park. 50 years after its last development permit, work on the East Stand began in 1972. The Leazes End was demolished in 1978, but due to financial constraints and relegation, the new stand was never constructed.
The outdated West Stand, which was destroyed in 1986, was found to be in need of replacement after the Bradford City stadium fire in 1985. In 1987, the Jackie Milburn Stand, which served as its replacement, opened. For lack of funding, further development was once more put on hold.
Sir John Hall era
The stadium had only experienced modest expansion under various owners up until the early 1990s, with plans beset by disputes and a lack of funding as a result of subpar on-field results. Businessman Sir John Hall, who had steered the Magpie Group consortium in an adversarial takeover of the club, was appointed chairman in January 1992. With the money made from success under the new manager Kevin Keegan, Sir John used his experience in real estate development to gain approval quickly and invest heavily in the stadium.
In time for Newcastle’s 1993 Premiership season, the Leazes End, which had been destroyed but not replaced, was finally rebuilt and opened as the Sir John Hall stand. A new pitch, drainage, and floodlights were added, along with the reconstruction of the Gallowgate End and modification of the Milburn Stand. The stadium’s 36,610 capacity was reached by 1995, when seating had been added to all four corners.
In 1995, the club submitted plans to move to Leazes Park to the north as the expanded stadium continued to draw large crowds as a result of the team’s success under the leadership of Kevin Keegan, who had returned. Less than two pitch lengths from the original stadium would be replaced with a new, purpose-built 55,000-seat stadium that would be rotated, similar to the San Siro in Italy. As part of the larger envisioned “Sporting Club of Newcastle,” the old field would be renovated for use by Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club, with Sir John Hall purchasing the basketball and ice hockey teams.
Freddy Shepherd era
When Sir John Hall stepped down as chairman in 1997, Freddy Shepherd, an existing shareholder and board director, took over. Hall continued to serve as a director until 2007 and is now the club’s life president.
After the Leazes Park plan was scrapped, the club proposed expanding St. James’ Park to hold more than 52,000 people by majorly building a second tier over the Milburn Stand, Leazes End, and adjacent corner, adding to a building that was already only four years old. Permission was obtained in July 1998 after the Secretary of State declined to refer the application to an inquiry. The project required 3-day work shutdowns on home match days in order to minimize the impact of construction on seating capacity. A loss of 750 seats occurred during construction.
Executive boxes in the East Stand were removed during this expansion and replaced with seating blocks that mirrored the Milburn Stand’s layout from pitch level up to the rows. More executive boxes were added to the Gallowgate End, and the executive boxes were moved to the new Milburn/Leazes complex. The additional stand and roof were built during development while the cantilever roof remained in place until the very end. By these developments, capacity rose to about 52,143. The project cost £42 million to complete, and it was done in July 2000. Ironically, despite the fact that this area is now student housing, the view of Leazes Park from Leazes Terrace has been further diminished as a result of the expansion of the current ground at the Leazes End following opposition from local residents to the relocation plan.
Mike Ashley era
Following Mike Ashley’s acquisition of the club and its plc holding company, the 2007 redevelopment plans announced by the previous administration were put on hold. The removal of advertising for Shepherd Offshore and Cameron Hall Developments, firms connected to the previous administration, mounted underneath the roofs (facing the crowd) was one of the stadium’s first observable changes in the new era. From the pitch, it was possible to see a sizable Sports Direct advertising sign on the lip of the Gallowgate’s roof.
The new management team concluded that stadium expansion was not a top priority after conducting a thorough assessment of the club. The away section was relocated to the opposite end of the Leazes stand, where it borders the East stand, at the same upper level, for the start of the 2008–09 season, from the corner of the Leazes stand/Milburn stand. There were more seats in the section designated as the “family enclosure,” and the cost of some corporate areas went up.
The lowest Premier League attendance at the expanded ground was 47,711 for the opening home game of the 2008–09 season at 3 p.m. on a Saturday, leading to cash turnstiles. At the time, it was thought that this was a result of the credit crunch; however, after Kevin Keegan’s shocking departure before the following home game, it would be difficult to attribute future changes in attendance to this alone.
A league match against Hull on September 13, 2008, the first game after Keegan’s resignation, drew 50,242 spectators despite Ashley and Dennis Wise protests. This was followed by a record low attendance of 20,577 on Wednesday, September 24 in a League Cup match, the lowest ever for a competitive first-team match since the 1993 promotion to the top flight, and a decrease of over 4,000 from previous lows. This was followed by an attendance of 44,935 on September 27 in a league match against Blackburn Rovers.
After acquiring Newcastle United, the new owners decided to remove the Sports Direct branding from the stadium in order to attract new sponsors. Co-owner Amanda Staveley stated that she was “looking forward” to removing the Sports Direct branding and that the signs would be taken down on 6 December. Mike Ashley, the former owner of the stadium, threatened to sue Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi after the sponsor was removed. Ashley claimed that Staveley and Ghodoussi had broken their promise to continue sponsoring the stadium through the end of the 2021–22 season.
More Information on St James’ Park Stadium
The stadium can hold up to 52,354 spectators, making it: the tenth-largest football stadium in the United Kingdom when including the Millennium Stadium (the national stadium of Wales) and Celtic Park (a Scottish club football ground); the twelfth largest stadium in the United Kingdom overall when including the rugby venues of Twickenham in E, the eighth-largest club football stadium in England, behind Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Emirates Stadium, Etihad Stadium, Anfield, and London Stadium.
Other Uses of the St James’ Park Stadium
The home games for Newcastle United have always been held at St. James’ Park. Since the 1993 expansion removed one from The Gallowgate end, the stadium has not had a scoreboard or big screen of any kind. However, in 2007, bright red digital time displays were installed close to the corner flags at pitch level. As part of a suggested new stadium branding exercise for 2010, a big screen for the stadium was mentioned as a potential addition. A sizable scoreboard was built next to the Milburn Stand on the Leazes End on October 18, 2014. Due to safety concerns surrounding the screen because of strong winds on the first day it was in use, a game against Leicester City experienced a one-hour kickoff delay.
Bulgaria and Romania’s Euro 1996 match
Three games were played at the stadium during Euro 1996. It was given to Group B, which included France, Spain, Romania, and Bulgaria, along with Elland Road.
The stadium was one of several locations that served as England’s team’s temporary home stadiums while Wembley Stadium was being renovated
During the 2012 Summer Olympics, St James’ Park also served as the site of a few football games.
How to Get to St James’ Park Stadium
Arriving from City Center to St James’ Park
A ten-minute walk from Newcastle Central Station and roughly a five-minute walk from Monument Metro Station separate St. James’ Park from Newcastle’s city center to the northwest.
On game days, there are no parking spots available, but arriving in Newcastle’s city center will show you a number of public parking lots that are well-signposted.
Arriving to St James’ Park with Public Transportation
Newcastle Central Station [NCL]: Neville Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 5DL
Tyne & Wear Metro, a light rail network with frequent service between Newcastle Airport, Newcastle City Center, the Coast, Major Transportation Interchanges, and Destinations South to Wearside, serves Newcastle upon Tyne.
Haymarket and Eldon Square are the two main bus stations in Newcastle upon Tyne for local and regional services. St. James Park is a five-minute walk from both of their locations on Percy Street. Turn right onto Gallowgate after walking south-west on Percy Street to get to the stadium. On the right, St. James’ Park will start to come into view.
Arriving by Car at St James’ Park Stadium
Click here to view St James’ Park on Google Maps.
The A167(M) and the following major roads are close to the stadium:
- From North: A1 and A696
- From West: A69
- From South: A184 via A1(M)
- From South-west: A184 via A692 and A68