Wembley was designed by architects Foster + Partners and Populous (formerly HOK Sport) and with engineers Mott MacDonald, built by Australian company Brookfield Multiplex and funded by Sport England, WNSL (Wembley National Stadium Limited), the Football Association, the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the London Development Agency. It is the most expensive stadium ever built at a cost of £798 million (roughly US$1.57 billion) and has the largest roof-covered seating capacity in the world. Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners was appointed to assist Wembley National Stadium Limited in preparing the scheme for a new stadium and to obtain planning and listed building permission for the development.
The all-seater stadium is based around a bowl design with a capacity of 90,000, protected from the elements by a sliding roof that does not completely enclose it. It can also be adapted as an athletic stadium by erecting a temporary platform over the lowest tier of seating. The stadium’s signature feature is a circular section lattice arch of 7 m (23 ft) internal diameter with a 315 m (1,033 ft) span, erected some 22° off true, and rising to 133 m (436 ft) tall. It supports all the weight of the north roof and 60% of the weight of the retractable roof on the southern side. The archway is the world’s longest unsupported roof structure. Instead of the 39 steps climbed, in the original stadium, to enter the Royal Box and collect a trophy, there are now 107.
A “platform system” has been designed to convert the stadium for athletics use, but its use would decrease the stadium’s capacity to approximately 60,000. No athletics events have taken place at the stadium, and none are scheduled.
The stadium is linked to Wembley Park Station on the London Underground via Olympic Way, and Wembley Central via the White Horse Bridge. It also has a rail link—provided by the Wembley Stadium railway station—to London Marylebone and Birmingham.
The initial plan for the reconstruction of Wembley was for demolition to begin before Christmas 2000, and for the new stadium to be completed some time during 2003, but this work was delayed by a succession of financial and legal difficulties. It was scheduled to open on 13 May 2006, with the first game being that year’s FA Cup Final. However, worries were expressed as to whether the stadium would actually be completed on time. The new stadium was completed and handed over to the FA on 9 March 2007, with the total cost of the project (including local transport infrastructure redevelopment and the cost of financing) estimated to be £1 billion (roughly US$1.97 billion).
In October 2005, Sports Minister Richard Caborn announced: “They say the Cup Final will be there, barring six feet of snow or something like that”. However in December 2005, the builders admitted that there was a “material risk” that the stadium might not be ready in time for the Cup Final and in February 2006, these worries were confirmed by the FA moving the game to Cardiff‘s Millennium Stadium.
The delays started as far back as 2003. In December 2003, the constructors of the arch, subcontractors Cleveland Bridge, warned Multiplex about rising costs and a delay on the steel job of almost a year due to design changes which Multiplex rejected. Cleveland Bridge were removed from the project and replaced by Dutch firm Hollandia with all the attendant problems of starting over. On 20 March 2006, a steel rafter in the roof of the new development fell by a foot and a half, forcing 3,000 workers to evacuate the stadium and raising further doubts over the completion date which was already behind schedule. On 23 March 2006, sewers beneath the stadium buckled due to ground movement. GMB Union leader Steve Kelly said that the problem had been caused by the pipes not being properly laid, and that the repair would take months. A spokesman for developers Multiplex said that they did not believe this would “have any impact on the completion of the stadium”, which was then scheduled to be completed on 31 March 2006.
On 30 March 2006, the developers announced that Wembley Stadium would not be ready until 2007. All competitions and concerts planned were to be moved to suitable locations. On 19 June 2006 it was announced that the turf had been laid. On 19 October 2006 it was announced that the venue was now set to open in early 2007 after the dispute between The Football Association and Multiplex had finally been settled. WNSL, a subsidiary of The Football Association, is expected to pay around £36m to Multiplex, as well as the amount of the original fixed-price contract. This meant that the Wembley Stadium was ready for the 2007 FA Cup Final on 19 May 2007. The official Wembley Stadium website announced that the stadium would be open for public viewing for local residents of Brent on 3 March 2007, however the event was delayed by two weeks and instead happened on 17 March. The keys to the new Wembley stadium were finally handed over to the owners on 9 March 2007 ready to be open and used for upcoming FA Cup football matches, concerts and other events.
- The stadium contains 2,618 toilets, more than any other venue in the world.
- The stadium has a circumference of 1 km (0.6 mi).
- At its peak, there were more than 3,500 construction workers on site.
- 4,000 separate piles form the foundations of the new stadium, the deepest of which is 35 m (115 ft).
- There are 56 km (35 miles) of heavy-duty power cables in the stadium.
- 90,000 m³ (120,000 yd³) of concrete and 23,000 tonnes (25,000 short tons) of steel were used in the construction of the new stadium.
- The total length of the escalators is 400 m (¼ mi).
- The Wembley Arch has a cross-sectional diameter greater than that of a cross-channel Eurostar train.
The new pitch is 13 ft (4.0 m) lower than the previous pitch. The pitch size, as lined for association football, is 115 yards (105 m) long by 75 yards (69 m) wide, slightly narrower than the old Wembley Since the completion of the new Wembley, the pitch has come into major disrepute when it was commented on being “no good” and “not in the condition that Wembley used to be known for” by Slaven Bilić before the game between England and the team he managed, Croatia. It was confirmed when the pitch was terribly cut up during the game, which was blamed by some as the reason England did not qualify for UEFA Euro 2008 despite previous results also being blamed by others. The Football Association admitted in April 2009 after the FA Cup semi-finals that improvements are needed to the Wembley pitch after criticism of the surface by Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and David Moyes. The grass has been re-laid five times since the stadium re-opened in 2007 and was re-laid again in the summer of 2009, ahead of the 2009 Community Shield.
The new 6,350 tonne roof covers an area of over 45,000 square metres (11 acres), 4 acres (16,000 m2) of which are movable and rise to 52 m (170 ft) above the pitch. With a span of 317 m (1040 ft), the arch is the longest single span roof structure in the world and is 134 m (440 ft) above the level of the external concourse, and is designed not to cast a shadow on the pitch. Contrary to popular belief, the stadium’s roof is not fully retractable, meaning it cannot cover the playing surface in inclement weather. In theory, the roof is more of an umbrella against the rain for spectators rather than a fully retractable roof which can cover the entire pitch. Many incorrectly believe that it was designed to avoid a shadow across the pitch but since 2007 when the FA Cup final returned to Wembley, the match, held at 3pm, has been badly affected by a shadow covering approximately one third of the pitch at the start of the match.
The Australian firm Multiplex, which was the main contractor on Wembley Stadium, made significant losses on the project . In an attempt to recoup some of those losses, the firm has initiated a number of legal cases against its sub-contractors and consultants. The largest of these – the largest legal claim in UK legal history – is a claim for £253 million against the structural engineering consultants Mott Macdonald. In preliminary hearings the two architecture practices which worked for Multiplex on the project have been ordered to allow Multiplex access to their records in order for them to build a case. The practices, Foster + Partners and Populous, estimate the costs of providing access and answering Multiplex’s queries at £5 million. The case is not due to be heard until January 2011. Mott Macdonald has issued a counter-claim for unpaid fees of £250,000.
Multiplex has also taken the original steel contractor, Cleveland Bridge, to court in order to claim up to £38 millioncompensation for costs resulting from Cleveland Bridge walking away from the job. Cleveland Bridge, in turn, claimed up to £15 million from Multiplex. The case was finally resolved in September 2008 with Cleveland Bridge ordered to pay £6.1 million in damages and 20% of Multiplex’s costs after the court found Cleveland Bridge was in the wrong to walk off site. The judge criticised both sides for allowing the case to reach court, pointing out that total costs were £22 million, including £1 million for photocopying. Multiplex’s ultimate bill is estimated to be over £10 million.
Multiplex is also contesting a claim from its concrete contractor, PC Harrington, that Multiplex owes £13.4 million to PC Harrington.
The English national football team is a major user of Wembley Stadium. Given the ownership by The Football Association as of 10 March 2007, the League Cup final moved back to Wembley from Cardiff following the FA Cup final and FA Community Shield. Other showpiece football matches that were previously staged at Wembley, such as the Football League promotion play-offs and the Football League Trophy final, have returned to the stadium, as has the Football Conference play-off final. Additionally, the Rugby League Challenge Cup final returned to Wembley Stadium in 2007. The new Wembley is a significant part of the plan for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; the stadium will be the site of several games in both the men’s and women’s football tournaments, with the finals planned to be held there.
Wembley has had a long association with American Football. Between 1986 and 1993 the old Wembley stadium hosted eight NFL exhibition matches featuring 13 different NFL teams. Since the new Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 Wembley has hosted matches of the NFL regular season. As a result of this, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated in October 2009 that “he expects the NFL will start playing multiple regular-season games in Britain in the next few years, an expansion that could lead to putting a franchise in London.”
Besides football, Wembley can be configured to hold many other events, particularly major concerts. The first concert at the new stadium was given by George Michael on 9 June 2007. U2 set the current attendance record for an event, selling 164,244 tickets over two nights on 14 & 15 August 2009. Muse became the first band to sell out the new stadium in 2007 and made a live DVD at the same time. Other acts to have performed at the stadium are, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Madonna, Coldplay. Oasis and AC/DC.
Two large charity concerts have been held at the new Wembley stadium, the Concert for Diana, a memorial concert ten years after the Death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Live Earth. Bon Jovi were scheduled to be the first artists to perform at the new Wembley but the late completion of the stadium saw the concerts relocated to the National Bowl and the KC Stadium.
American punk rock band Green Day are set to continue their world tour by playing the stadium on 19 June 2010. Muse will return to Wembley Stadium on 10 and 11 September 2010, having previously played there in June 2007.
|9, 10 June 2007||George Michael|
|16, 17 June 2007||Muse|
|1 July 2007||Concert for Diana|
|7 July 2007||Live Earth|
|8 July 2007||Metallica|
|6, 7 June 2008||Foo Fighters|
|11 September 2008||Madonna|
|26 June 2009||AC/DC|
|1, 3, 4, 5 July 2009||Take That|
|9, 11, 12 July 2009||Oasis|
|14, 15 August 2009||U2|
|18, 19 September 2009||Coldplay|
- On 16 June 2007, Muse became the first artist to sell out the new Wembley Stadium in just a matter of minutes .
- On 11 September 2008, Madonna performed to a sell-out crowd of over 74,000 fans and a gross of over $12 million and surpassed all previous grosses at both the old and the new Wembley Stadiums.
- In 2009, Take That sold out four dates for their Circus Live tour, on 1, 3, 4 and 5 July 2009, playing to over 80,000 fans each night. On two of those nights, tickets were sold at a lower price for seats with restricted view of the main stage, but with a view of the B-Stage in the centre of the stadium.
- U2 performed to a record 88,000 fans each night on 14 and 15 August 2009. The U2 360° Tour is designed to cater for fans positioned behind the stage.
|19 June 2010||Green Day|
|10, 11 September 2010||Muse|
Firsts at the new Wembley Stadium
The first match at the stadium was a game played behind closed doors between Multiplex and Wembley Stadium staff. The first game in front of spectators was between the Geoff Thomas Foundation Charity XI and the Wembley Sponsors Allstars on 17 March 2007. The Geoff Thomas Foundation Charity XI won 2-0 (scorers Mark Bright and Simon Jordan). The first official match involving professional players was England U21s vs Italy U21s on 24 March 2007, which finished 3-3. Official attendance was 55,700 (although all of the 60,000 tickets that were made available were sold in advance). The first player to score in a FIFA sanctioned match was Italian striker Giampaolo Pazzini after 28 seconds of the same game. Pazzini went on to score twice more in the second half of the match making him the first person to score a hat-trick at Wembley Stadium since Paul Scholes for England in 1999. The first English player to score in a full-scale match was David Bentley with a free kick in the same game.
The first club game, competitive game, and cup final held at the new Wembley took place on 12 May 2007 when Kidderminster Harriers met Stevenage Borough in the FA Trophy final. Kidderminster striker James Constable was the first player to score a goal in a final at the new Wembley. Kidderminster became the first team to play at both the old and new stadium. Stevenage Borough were the first team to win a final at the new Wembley beating Kidderminster 3-2, despite trailing 2-0 at half time. The first players to play at both the old and new Wembley stadia were Steve Guppy (for Stevenage Borough) and Jeff Kenna (for Kidderminster Harriers). Ex-England international Guppy was the first player to win a final at both stadia (with Leicester City, Wycombe Wanderers and Stevenage)
The first penalty save and first red card came in the Conference National playoff final between Exeter City and Morecambe. The penalty was saved by Paul Jones of Exeter City from Morecambe striker Wayne Curtis. The red card was given to Matthew Gill of Exeter for a headbutt on Craig Stanley of Morecambe. Also, Morecambe were the first ever team to win at Wembley that play in a red home shirt.
The first Football League teams to play at Wembley in a competitive fixture were Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury Town in the 2007 Football League Two play-off Final on the 26 May 2007. Shrewsbury Town became the first league team to score at Wembley and also the first league team to have a player sent off. Bristol Rovers won the game 3-1.
The first FA Cup Final at the new Wembley (between Manchester United and Chelsea) was on 19 May 2007. Chelsea won 1-0 with a goal by Didier Drogba, making him the first player to score in the FA Cup final at the new Wembley. Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech also became the first goalkeeper not to concede a goal in a competitive game at Wembley. Chelsea were the last winners of the cup final at the old Wembley and the first winners at the new.
The first game involving the full English national team was a friendly played on 1 June 2007, against Brazil. The match saw captain John Terry become the first England international goal scorer at the new stadium when he scored in the 68th minute. Diego became the first full international player to score for a visiting team when he scored in stoppage time, with the fulltime result being a 1-1 draw. The first competitive senior international was played on 8 September 2007 between England and Israel. This game ended 3-0. The first player to score international goals at both the old and new stadia was Michael Owen when he scored for England against Israel. On 22 August Germany beat England 2-1 to become the first team to beat them in the new Wembley Stadium England’s first competitive defeat at the new stadium was on 21 November 2007 when Croatia won 3-2. This match cost England qualification to Euro 2008 and head coach Steve McClaren his job.
Celtic were the first Scottish team to win a trophy at the new Wembley. Competing in the first year of the Wembley Cup in July 2009, against English side Tottenham, Egyptian side Al-Ahly and the current 2009 European Champions, Barcelona.
- The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final had previously been played annually at the old Wembley Stadium since 1929, when Wigan were the victors, and in 2007 the cup final returned to its traditional home after the re-building of Wembley.
- When Catalans Dragons played St Helens in the 2007 Challenge Cup Final on 25 August, they became the first non-English rugby league team to play in the final. The result saw St Helens retain the cup by a score of 30-8.
- The first Rugby League team to win a game at the new Wembley Stadium, were in fact Normanton Freeston. The West Yorkshire secondary school beat Castleford High School in the Year 7 boys Carnegie Champion Schools final, which was played immediately prior to the 2007 Challenge Cup Final.
- The first official try at Wembley was scored by James Roby of St Helens, although there had been several tries scored in the schools game that took place before the 2007 Challenge Cup final.
- The first rugby union International at the new Wembley stadium was between the Barbarians and Australia on 3 December 2008.
- The first rugby union match at the Wembley stadium was played as part of a school tournament before the first International. The match was won by East Barnet School from North London with a score of 25-0, and the first ever rugby union coach to win at the new Wembley was one Russell David Christie from Christchurch, New Zealand.
- On 28 October 2007, the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins by a score of 13-10 in the first NFL regular-season game to be played outside of North America, and first ever to be played in Europe in front of 81,176 fans.
- The first touchdown scored at Wembley was on a run by quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants.