St Mary’s Stadium is a football stadium in Southampton, England, and has been the home of Southampton F.C. since 2001. It can hold 32,384 people and is the biggest football stadium in South East England.
Before moving to St Mary’s, Southampton considered upgrading their old stadium, The Dell, into an all-seater one. But the capacity was only about 15,000. They tried to build a new stadium at Stoneham but failed. Finally, they built St Mary’s on a disused gas works site in the city. Construction started in December 1999, costing £32 million.
The first match at St Mary’s was played on 1 August 2001 against RCD Espanyol. In 2022, it was one of the venues for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, hosting Group A matches, including England.
The stadium forms a complete bowl with equal-height stands and large screens at each end for a clear view from any seat.
There are four stands, named after the areas they face: the Itchen Stand faces the River Itchen, the Kingsland Stand is opposite, the Chapel Stand is behind the south goal, and the Northam Stand is to the north.
A translucent ‘panel’ at the rear of the Chapel, Kingsland, and Northam Stands allows light onto the pitch. The Chapel Stand’s roof is also translucent.
The Itchen Stand has 42 executive boxes, a police control room, and club facilities. The four main hospitality suites are named after Saints’ great players: Terry Paine, Mick Channon, Bobby Stokes, and Matt Le Tissier.
The Northam Stand houses vocal home and visiting supporters. For cup games, visitors can get up to 4,250 seats (15% of capacity), and for league matches, up to 3,200 seats.
When the stadium first opened, it was called ‘The Friends Provident St Mary’s Stadium.’ The club originally wanted to use only the sponsor’s name, but fans wanted a non-commercial name too. In 2006, when the new sponsor Flybe didn’t buy the naming rights, the stadium went back to being called ‘St Mary’s Stadium.’
The stadium can hold 32,505 seated fans, which includes areas for the press and directors. However, because of the separation of home and away fans in the Northam Stand, the full capacity is unlikely to be used for competitive matches.