Kirklees Stadium, now called the John Smith’s Stadium because of sponsorship, is a versatile sports venue in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England. It has been the home field for Huddersfield Town football club and the Huddersfield Giants rugby league team since 1994 when they moved from Leeds Road.
The stadium has hosted various Rugby League World Cup events in 1995, 2000, 2013, and 2021, as well as the 1999 Rugby Union World Cup. Both Huddersfield clubs and Kirklees Council jointly own the stadium. Its naming rights have changed hands over the years, from Alfred McAlpine to Galpharm International in 2004, and later to John Smith’s Brewery eight years after that. Despite these changes, the official name remains Kirklees Stadium. It was constructed by Alfred McAlpine, designed by Populous, and earned the RIBA Building of the Year award in 1995.
The decision to build a new stadium for Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants was made in August 1992. Construction started the next year, and it was finished in time for the 1994–95 season. This allowed the clubs to move to their new home after 86 years at Leeds Road and 114 years at Fartown, with the rugby club sharing Leeds Road from 1992 to 1994.
When the stadium first opened, only the two side stands (the Riverside and Kilner Bank stands) were ready. The South Stand opened in December 1994. Construction on the North Stand, also known as the Panasonic Stand, began in 1996 and was completed in 1998. This increased the stadium’s overall capacity to around 24,500. The construction cost was estimated at £40 million.
On August 20, 1994, the stadium had its inaugural match, with Huddersfield Town playing against Wycombe Wanderers in the Second Division. At that time, only the two side stands were finished, and 13,334 fans were in attendance. Simon Garner scored the lone goal of the match for the visiting team, leading to a 1–0 victory for Wycombe Wanderers.
The stadium hosted Rugby League World Cup matches in 1995, 2000, and 2013. Additionally, it was the venue for seven Great Britain rugby league internationals between 1998 and 2007. After the Great Britain team split into home nations, the stadium hosted four England rugby league internationals. One of the standout moments was a 42–0 victory over Ireland in the group stage of the 2013 World Cup, witnessed by a record crowd of 24,375 spectators. This match marked the stadium’s first-ever sold-out crowd and set its attendance record.