Coventry Building Society Arena
Address: Judds Lane,
Capacity: 32,609 (All-Seater)
A first-class venue that’s fully fit for the modern game, and is at last being used again by its city’s main football club.
Known during the 2012 Summer Olympics as the City of Coventry Stadium, the Coventry Building Society Arena’s origins date back to the late 1990s.
Coventry City Football Club, who had been based at Highfield Road elsewhere in Coventry since 1899, proposed plans for a new, modern stadium that would have a larger capacity with better quality access and parking facilities. The initial plan was to begin construction on a 45,000-seater stadium in the spring of 1999 that would be completed by August 2001. Following Coventry City’s relegation from the Premier League in 2001 and a number of contractor withdrawals however, these plans were significantly downsized and a more basic stadium was proposed instead.
Work ended up being delayed by four years, but the new stadium was finally complete in 2005, taking the Ricoh Arena name that remained in use until the Coventry Building Society Arena name was announced in 2021.
Coventry City’s history with the Coventry Building Society Arena has not been plain sailing though.
The Sky Blues’ first competitive match here was a 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers on 20th August 2005, and things remained largely without issue for the next seven years.
In December 2012 however, Coventry’s owners SISU Capital became embroiled in a dispute with the Coventry Building Society Arena’s operators around their rent arrangement and the lack of matchday revenue that it provided. After the unpaid rent to the operators passed its deadline of late December, Coventry City found themselves enforced with a winding up order from the High Court and subsequently entered administration. The dispute remained unsettled and Coventry City agreed to play their home games for the 2013-14 season at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium.
The operators and SISU Capital agreed a two-year deal to bring Coventry City back to the Coventry Building Society Arena early into the 2014-15 season, and the club would remain there until May 2019 when their extended deal expired.
Coventry City would spend the next two seasons groundsharing at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s as a result, until an announcement was made on 10th March 2021 that Coventry City and the Coventry Building Society Arena’s regular tenants, rugby union team Wasps, had agreed a 10-year deal which would see the Sky Blues return to the Coventry Building Society Arena for the 2021-22 season.
Location and Getting There
The Coventry Building Society Arena forms part of a complex in Rowley’s Green, around three miles north of Coventry City Centre. The Coventry Canal passes close by to the stadium’s eastern side and Holbrooks Park is roughly one mile away to the southwest.
The complex has been designed to aid accessibility to the stadium by either car or public transport.
The Coventry Building Society Arena has three large car parks surrounding it that can hold around 2,000 vehicles in total. The largest of these is Car Park C that is located on the opposite side of Phoenix Way (A444) and you can walk across from here to the ground via a footbridge that passes overhead. All these spaces do of course cost to park at though and you can pre-book in advance if you wish by calling 0844 873 6514.
It is important to also note that there is a strict resident parking scheme enforced on event days at the Coventry Building Society Arena. The enforcement area lies within a 2km radius of the stadium and signs on each street are a constant reminder of this being in place.
The Coventry Building Society Arena does have a subway station immediately outside its southeast corner. The station is called Coventry Arena and is on the West Midlands Trains line that runs from Nuneaton to Leamington Spa.
The easier station to reach however is Coventry Station. It is part of the same West Midlands Trains line but is also served by CrossCountry and Avanti West Coast. The station however is close to Coventry’s City Centre and so a walk from here to the stadium will take you well over an hour.
A quicker alternative to walking is to head into the City Centre and to Trinity Street which is near to the Primark, Coventry Transport Museum and The Flying Standard. From here, you can take the Number 3 bus service which has a stop near to the Coventry Arena Station at the northern end of the Arena Shopping Park. It’s a simple walk under the subway tracks to the stadium after getting off.
Outside the Stadium
If you’re coming from the Arena Shopping Park, the first part of the Coventry Building Society Arena you will reach is the stadium’s South Stand.
The exterior here uses a sandy-coloured brickwork base with a large blue-panelled and glass façade higher up and white cantilever at the top. The panel and glass façade isn't in place over by the stadium's southeast corner, and it's around here that you can find the Coventry City Club Shop and Ticket Office.
Turnstiles 1-11 are on this side of the Coventry Building Society Arena,, split into two sets. Turnstiles 1-5 are located underneath the panel and glass façade, whilst turnstiles 6-11 are located to the right of of the façade. It is typically only turnstiles 1-5 that are open when fully capacity crowds aren't expected.
Out beyond the South Stand is Car Park B that can hold 555 vehicles. There is a gate that leads out from Car Park B and onto the A444 but this isn’t always open.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the West Stand and the stadium’s most eye catching feature.
The southwest corner and northwest corner of the stadium continue the exterior design of a brickwork base with light blue and glass panels higher up. The main feature here though is the large building attached to the West Stand that includes a 6,000 square metre exhibition hall, a 121-beedroom DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and a Casino. Because this large building is fully attached to the stadium, you will need to walk around the whole of it in order to get from one side of the Coventry Building Society Arena to the other. There is no way of cutting through the middle during a matchday. There are no stadium turnstiles along the exhibition hall building, though its centre and most western point does contain several doors along it and holds the Wasps Fanzone when in use. To the left of here is firstly a large Grosvenor Casino logo, followed by a large Wasps Club Crest and then a large Coventry City Club crest.
Head further around the exhibition hall building and you will eventually come to the entrance for the Grosvenor Casino inside. The stadium's Main Executive Entrance is left of here, alongside the entrance to the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. You can find a row of Ticket Collection Points to the left of this hotel entrance.
The northwest corner of the Coventry Building Society Arena houses a Sports Bar called 'The Anecdote' and the turnstiles for fans within the West Stand are based left of here. They are turnstiles 44-45, are located underneath a blue panelled and glass façade, and have a couple of Pay Stations located next to them. Car Park D is located out beyond the northwest corner of the Coventry Building Society Arena.
Outside of 'The Anecdote' is a statue of Jimmy Hill.
Born in London on 22nd July 1928, Hill played for Brentford and Fulham before retiring in 1961 to become Coventry City manager.
In six years with the Sky Blues, he oversaw nearly 300 games, winning league titles in the old Third Division (now League One) in 1964 and the old Second Division (now the Championship) in 1967. Hill went on to have a successful career in broadcasting, and later became both a director and chairman of Coventry City as well.
Away from Coventry, Hill gained a reputation as an innovator in football, with his many notable contributions including the removal of the players’ maximum wage rule and the introduction of the three points for a win system, as opposed to the two points for a win system that was in place at the time.
The statue of Jimmy Hill, who passed away on 19th December 2015 at the age of 87, has been present at the Coventry Building Society Arena since July 2011.
The exterior of the Coventry Building Society Arena’s North Stand shares similarities with the South Stand opposite.
Over near the stadium's northwest corner, it consists mostly of a brickwork base with large light blue and glass panels higher up and a cantilever roof up at the very top. The panelling stops as you progress along the exterior towards the stadium’s northeast corner and its here that more of the brickwork base and cantilever roof is visible.
Turnstiles 36-43 are located directly left of where the panel and glass façade stops, and along the brick wall to the left of these turnstiles is a large Hummel Merchandise Hub that is used during Wasps matches at the stadium. Turnstiles 32-35 are to the left of this Merchandise Hub.
Car Park A is located out beyond the exterior of the North Stand.
The northeast corner of the Coventry Building Society Arena houses two sets of turnstiles, 30-31 and 28-29 which are a short distance apart from each other. Head across the road from turnstiles 28-29 and you will come to the Willie Stanley Memorial Garden.
It is named after William Stanley, an employee of a local bicycle firm called Singers who is crediting with founding Coventry City back in 1883, though the club was known as Singers FC at the time as it consisted of company employees. The Coventry City Football Club name was adopted in 1898.
The East Stand of the Coventry Building Society Arena has an exterior that uses a sandy-coloured brickwork base with white cantilever higher up. Part of the underside of the seating area is also visible from outside.
The side of the stadium features the Sky Blues Wall of Fame, nine blue plaques dedicated to important figures in Coventry City's history. These nine figures are (from north to south along the wall):
-Bill Glazier: A Nottingham-born goalkeeper who played for Coventry between 1964 and 1975, winning the Second Division title in 1967 after signing for £35,000 (then a World Record fee for a goalkeeper)
-George Hudson: A Manchester-born forward who played for Coventry between 1963 and 1966.
-Brian Kilcline: A Nottingham-born defender who played for Coventry between 1984 and 1991. He famously captained the Sky Blues team which won the 1987 FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur, though wasn't able to finish the match on the pitch after sustaining an injury.
-Steve Ogrizovic: A Mansfield-born goalkeeper who played more than 600 times for Coventry between 1984 and 2000. He played in goal for the Sky Blues team which won the 1987 FA Cup Final.
-Tommy Hutchison: A Fife-born midfielder who played for Coventry between 1972 and 1981, making more than 350 appearances and winning Supporters' Player of the Season three times.
-Jimmy Hill: The aforementioned Coventry City legend who has a statue located outside 'The Anecdote'.
-John Sillett: A Southampton-born full-back who played for Coventry between 1962 and 1966 and managed the club between 1986 and 1990. He won a Third Division title with the Sky Blues as a player in 1964 and was part of the coaching staff when Coventry won the FA Cup in 1987.
-Bobby Gould: A Coventry-born striker wo played for his hometown club between 1963 and 1968 and managed the Sky Blues over two different spells between 1983 and 1993. He won the Second Division title in 1967 whilst playing for Coventry.
-Ernie Hunt: A Swindon-born inside forward who played for Coventry between 1968 and 1973. A fan favourite during his time at the club, his flicked-up volley from a free-kick in October 1970 is one of English football's most famous goals.
Below each Sky Blues Wall of Fame plaque is a section of bricks that are marked with the names of Coventry City fans past and present.
Alongside the Wall of Fame, you can also find sets of turnstiles and other facilities. Turnstiles 24-26 are located between the George Hudson and Brian Kilcline plaques, turnstiles 20-23 are located between the Steve Ogrizovic and Tommy Hutchison plaques, turnstiles 16-19 are located between the John Sillett and Bobby Gould plaques, and turnstiles 12-15 are located to the left of the Ernie Hunt plaque.
You can also find a Hummel Official Merchandise Hub to the left of turnstile 12 that is used during Wasps matches at the stadium. It is not as big as the Merchandise Hub in front of the North Stand.
The East Stand runs alongside the subway line and is on higher ground than the stadium’s southern side. There is a staircase you can take to get down from here to the stadium’s southeast corner, or you can alternatively follow the road that rings all the way around the stadium for a much smoother descent.
Inside the Stadium
The South Stand includes both the stadium’s southeast and southwest corners, consisting of a large single tier of light blue seating. The letters SKY and BLUES are spelt out in darker blue seating along the back and middle of the South Stand respectively, and there is also a flat viewing platform in place down towards the front of the stand for disabled supporters to use. This stand additionally has a large electronic screen in place up at the back that can best be seen by those at the opposite end of the stadium.
Your view from anywhere inside the South Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above, and the stadium’s enclosed design means every row is well protected from the sides and from behind.
The West Stand is divided into two tiers, with the lower tier much bigger than the upper tier. All the seats in this stand are light blue in colour, with a row of executive boxes in place at the back of the lower tier and a few rows of executive seating in front of each box. The Coventry Building Society Arena's dugouts are in place down at the front of the lower tier, and a short distance up behind the home dugout is the Directors' Box. A large press area can be found roughly half-way between the centre of the bottom tier and the start of the stadium's northwest corner. There is a flat platform for disabled supporters to use next to this press area, and another flat platform is in place at the other end of the West Stand.
The top tier of the West Stand consists exclusively of executive boxes and light blue executive seating in front of them.
Your view from anywhere inside the West Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof up above, and the stadium’s enclosed design means every row is well protected from the sides and from behind.
The North Stand is very similar to the South Stand opposite.
Comprising of both the stadium’s northwest and northeast corners, it is a large single tier of light blue seating, though here the letters CCFC are spelt out in dark blue across the blocks instead. The stand does have a flat platform for disabled supporters to use down towards the front, but there is no electronic screen up at the back.
Your view from anywhere inside the North Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof up above, and the stadium’s enclosed design means every row is well protected from the sides and from behind.
The East Stand is the exact same height as the adjacent North and South Stands, consisting of a large single tier of light blue seating with the letters WASPS spelt out in dark blue across the central blocks. The stand has four flat platforms down towards the front for disabled supporters to use, and up at the very back is where you can find the matchday camera.
Your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof up above, and the stadium’s enclosed design means every row is well protected from the sides and from behind.
Because of it being the blocks closest to the away crowd on a matchday, you will often find that the southeast corner of the Coventry Building Society Arena contains the most vocals Coventry City fans.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the South Stand.
Smaller crowds will typically take up the blocks nearer to the stadium’s southwest corner (usually blocks number 6 and 7), with rows of stewards and large sheets used to segregate them from any home supporters nearby. More blocks in the South Stand are made available for larger away crowds.
The South Stand offers a perfectly clear view of the pitch and is easy to access from outside as it is usually the first stand people reach if they are arriving at the Coventry Building Society Arena from either the nearby Shopping Park or via the subway station.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The Coach and Horses (Longford Road, CV6 6BG) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Longford Engine (270 Bedworth Road, CV6 6BP) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Parkgate Pub (54-62 Parkgate Road, CV6 4GD) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
*There are no pubs within very close range of the Coventry Building Society Arena, and so you may well have to travel far to find a drink pre-game which isn't from inside the stadium itself.
The Coventry Building Society Arena has always been an excellent quality stadium that is fit to host sports and events at the highest level, with decent transport links, plenty of parking spaces and great views for all fans inside.
Coventry City’s 10-year lease began here in 2021, but with plans to build a stadium on land near the University of Warwick, they may well not see out that full decade at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
It certainly is nice to see the Sky Blues back in their home city though.