The Etihad Stadium Manchester which is also known as Eastlands and was formerly the City Of Manchester Stadium, is the home of the newly crowned Premier League champion Manchester City Football Club. It was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and cost £110 million. It had already been decided that MCFC would take over the stadium in 2003 after vacating Maine Road.
The Etihad Stadium Manchester seats 47,805 making it the fifth largest in the Premier League. As well as being the home of MCFC, The Etihad Stadium Manchester has hosted the 2008 UEFA Cup Final, England football and rugby league internationals, boxing matches and rock concerts. The stadium is owned by Manchester City Council and leased by MCFC.
The stadium is imposing both inside and out. It has twelve turrets holding up the roof, the tallest of which at 75cm can be seen from miles away. Circular access ramps coil round the turrets providing access to the higher tiers without the need for stairs. These ramps are on the outside of the stadium that not only gives the Etihad Stadium Manchester its unique aesthetic, but also allows the spectators to look out over the city of Manchester before entering the stadium.
Once inside the stadium, spectators always feel close to the action. The architects, Arup Sport, described they effect they were trying to achieve as, ‘an intimate, even intimidating gladiatorial arena embodying the atmosphere of a football club’. This has been achieved as the football pitch sits six metres below the ground as was common in Roman gladiatorial arenas and amphitheatres. The interior itself is a continuous oval bowl with three tiers of seating at the sides and two at either end. The West Stand was renamed the Colin Bell Stand in 2004 in honour of the player many MCFC fans regard as their club’s greatest ever.
The Etihad Stadium Manchester is the centrepiece in a wider area of East Manchester called Sportcity which is home to several other sporting venues. The most notably is the Manchester Velodrome which is home to cycling’s all-conquering Team GB. Access to the stadium will become even easier in 2012 when the Eastlands City Stadium Metrolink station opens in 2012.