The Bet365 Stadium, often written as bet365 Stadium, is a football stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, England. It’s where the EFL Championship club Stoke City plays their matches. It used to be called the Britannia Stadium, but on June 1, 2016, it got a new name because the club made a deal with Bet365, its parent company. The stadium can hold 30,089 people after some expansion work in 2017.
They built this stadium in 1998 for £14.8 million to replace the Victoria Ground. They also did something special by burying the ashes of a famous former player, Sir Stanley Matthews, under the middle of the soccer field after he passed away in February 2000. He had officially opened the stadium on August 30, 1997. In European competitions, it’s called the Stoke Ground because of rules about sponsorships from UEFA.
The stadium, which cost almost £15 million to build, was needed to meet the standards set by the Taylor Report in January 1990. This report marked the end of 115 years of games at the Victoria Ground. They had thought about turning the Victoria Ground into an all-seater stadium, but by 1995, they were also thinking about moving the club to a new location. In early 1996, they decided to build a new stadium somewhere else.
The construction work started during the 1996-97 season. In August 1997, the stadium opened its doors for the first time as the Britannia Stadium because of a £1 million sponsorship deal with the Britannia Building Society. This sponsorship was a big part of the money needed for the project, and they also got £4.5 million as a grant from the Football Trust.
But when the stadium first opened, there were problems. The plans only had one road leading to it from the nearby A50, which caused traffic issues. People coming from the city or the motorway had to go up the A50 for more than a mile to a roundabout at Sideway and then turn back, which created a lot of congestion.
Club legend Sir Stanley Matthews, who was 82 years old at the time, officially opened the stadium. When he passed away in March 2000, they buried his ashes under the center of the stadium’s soccer field, and they put up a statue outside the stadium to honor his different stages of his career.
On August 27, 1997, Rochdale played the first-ever competitive match at the new stadium, and it ended in a 1–1 draw in the League Cup, with 15,439 fans in attendance. Four days later, the first league game happened against Swindon Town, and 23,859 people were there to watch. Unfortunately, the first season at the new stadium was a tough one as Stoke got relegated from the First Division. They lost 5–2 at home to Manchester City on the last day of the season, and Manchester City also got relegated because the teams above them won their final games. This made the club’s supporters upset with chairman Peter Coates, who stepped down but later returned in 2006.
For the next four seasons, Stoke played in the third tier of football with Gunnar Gíslason leading the club from November 1999. In May 2006, he sold control of the club back to Peter Coates. Shortly after that, the club gained full ownership of the stadium in a £6 million deal. Before that, it had been a joint partnership with the Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd. The stadium’s name was changed to the bet365 Stadium in June 2016.
In November 2012, there were plans to make the stadium bigger, with more than 30,000 seats. But by June 2014, they hadn’t started the work yet. The club’s CEO, Tony Scholes, said they weren’t in a hurry to do it. Then, in April 2016, they talked about expanding the stadium again and said it would be done by the start of the 2017–18 season. They started the work in February 2017 and finished it in the summer of 2017.
The stadium isn’t just for football; it also has spaces for conferences, banquets, and events. It has hosted more than just football matches; there have been firework displays and music concerts there too. Famous artists like Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Busted, Elton John, and Rod Stewart have performed on the stadium’s field, along with many other music concerts held during the summer.