Address: Junction 11,
Capacity: 24,161 (All-Seater)
Nicely balanced and practical. It isn’t one of the standout, best looking grounds in the country but for a suitable place to watch live sport, the Madejski Stadium ticks all the boxes.
For sponsorship reasons, it is otherwise known as the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Construction of the stadium took place between 1997 and 1998, with Reading Football Club moving into the ground that same year.
The need for a new home came following the Taylor Report in January 1990, requiring all-seater stadiums to become compulsory in the top two divisions of English football. Reading at the time were a team who regularly competed for promotion to the First Division (now known as the Championship), and their Elm Park home could not be converted into an all-seater venue.
A closed landfill sight in Smallmead towards the southern part of Reading was purchased for just £1, and it was upon this site that the Madejski Stadium was built. Reading beat Luton Town 3-0 in their first game here in August 1998, and have been there ever since.
Rugby Union club London Irish used the ground for matches between 2000 and 2020, when they completed a move into the Brentford Community Stadium.
Location and Getting There
The Madejski Stadium is approximately 2.5 miles south of Reading Town Centre, and just off Junction 11 of the M4. It is perched upon the top of a hill in the heart of a large industrial estate. The Whitley suburb is due east of the ground whilst both Southcote and Katesgrove are due north.
The stadium’s good location close to the motorway and within an industrial estate makes it well accessible by car and free parking is certainly available within reach of the ground.
The Madejski does have a large car park out beyond its northwest corner but this obviously costs a fair amount to park at.
I have found places in the nearby industrial estate that were available for free parking and little more than 10-15 minutes walk away. Be sure however to look out for signs on certain buildings which prohibit vehicles from parking there.
Coming by rail can prove more of a challenge.
Reading Station is almost three miles north of the Madejski Stadium and Reading West Station isn’t much closer.
There are a few bus routes that you can take from close to the station that drop you off on the roads around the ground, but it can still take upwards of 25 minutes for you to complete this journey.
If you can get to the Madejski Stadium by car, I would recommend doing so.
Outside the Stadium
Most fans walk up to the ground along Hurst Way, which eventually leads on to Biscuit Way and brings you to the outside of the South Stand first.
The exterior here is fairly basic, made up mostly of silver, red and blue corrugated iron with brickwork down at the base.
Parts of the stadium’s cantilever roof come down in the centre and corners of the stand, and the turnstiles can be found at either end, with a small ticket office in the centre.
The area leading to Shooters Way over by the southeast corner is normally full of stewards monitoring the away fans who congregate here, and home fans are encouraged to head along Biscuit Way and around the western side of the stadium in order to get to their specific turnstile.
The West Stand is easily the largest of the four at the Madejski Stadium because of the large voco Hotel protruding out of it. There’s no shortcut through a gap between this building and the stadium, so you have to walk all the way around the hotel and then come back to the exterior of the stadium itself in the northwest corner.
As a result of this, turnstiles can only be found in the corners of the West Stand and the entrance for players and officials is a little further beyond the southwest corner turnstiles. Reading’s Official Club Shop is located in the northwest corner, where the Main Ticket Office can also be found.
Out beyond the aforementioned club car park is The Dome, a state-of-the-art indoor training facility used mainly by Reading’s academy sides. You can make an enquiry about using The Dome for events such as team-building activities or company gatherings using the Reading FC Conference and Events website.
The North Stand is named after Eamonn Dolan, the West Ham United, Bristol City, Birmingham City and Exeter City striker who was the academy manager at Reading for 12 years. It was renamed to honour him in July 2016 following his sad passing the month before.
The Eamonn Dolan Stand follows a very similar design to the rest of the stadium, using the silver, red and blue corrugated iron throughout with the cantilever roof coming down from above. Reading Football Club’s website is written across the wall over by the northeast corner and the entrances into the designated Royals Family Area is below this. A large Puma badge is over towards the northwest corner.
In the very centre of the stand is a large picture of Eamonn Dolan very cleverly made out of pictures of former Reading players. These pictures are each filtered in such a way that together they make out the much large image of Dolan. It’s a lovely tribute to a man who did so much for the club.
Since the Family area is located in the Eamonn Dolan Stand, Reading usually operate a Kids Zone out beyond the stand with matchday activities available for children to take part in before heading inside to their seat.
The northeast corner of the Madejski Stadium is open at the bottom and this is where Reading usually store additional equipment, including their warm-up goals whilst they are not needed.
There is a blue fence in place to stop people entering here, but you may be able to look through and get a glimpse of the stadium’s interior through the large entrance, which is meant for emergency vehicles should they need to reach the pitch itself.
The East Stand has the nicest looking exterior of all four stands.
It continues the same corrugated iron design as the rest of the stadium but has an additional building protruding out of it. This building is known as The Jazz Café, a live music venue that offers dining and drinking for guests to a backdrop of jazz, funk and R’n’B.
On matchdays you can usually find mobile food stalls out beyond the stand, and Reading often set up a giant television screen which broadcasts live the day's earlier kick-off if there is one.
Like the Eamonn Dolan Stand adjacent to it, the East Stand too offers matchday activities for fans before they head inside, though these are ones are more targeted towards the adult supporters coming to the stadium.
The southeast corner is open at the bottom for storage, much like the northeast corner nearby.
This area is also usually gated off to home supporters in order to keep them separate from the away fans who congregate here before heading through their specific turnstiles.
The southeast corner also used to be the home of Radio House, where 107 JACK FM broadcasted for several years. The entrance to the studios is still there but isn’t used anymore.
Inside the Stadium
The South Stand has a simple, single-tiered design with two large flat platforms about a third of the way up that are used by disabled fans to get a good view of the game as it takes place. Every seat in this stand is in the club’s shade of blue and there is a staircase with metal barriers running straight down the middle of it, which is served as a way of segregating rival fans from one another in this stand.
There are no supporting pillars coming down in the South Stand because of the cantilever roof and as a result you have a clear view of the pitch from any seat.
The West Stand is the only one of the four made up of two tiers, incorporating both the northwest and southwest corners into that two-tiered design as well. You could even call it three-tiered if you include the blocks of red executive seating at the front of the boxes in-between the upper and lower tier. The rest of the seats are in the same colour as the South Stand, though more executive seating can be found in the central blocks of the upper tier, with the matchday camera and press boxes up above the very back row. Because of these press boxes, the roof rises up higher here than around the rest of the stadium and this makes the West Stand the tallest of the lot.
Reading's dugouts, changing rooms and tunnel are located in the South Stand, and there are no pillars coming down from the roof so the view from every seat is perfectly clear.
The Eamonn Dolan Stand is an almost exact-carbon copy of the South Stand opposite.
The only difference is that there is no barriered staircase in the middle since it is only home supporters who are allowed to sit in here. The entrances from the concourse and the two platforms for disabled supporters are in the exact same places though.
Your view is perfectly clear from anywhere inside as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof.
The East Stand is also single-tiered and has two platforms in place for disabled fans much like the stands adjacent to it, but it is obviously much larger since it runs along the length of the pitch rather than the width.
It is the only stand that includes writing in it, with the letters Madejski Stadium spelt out using white seating across the blocks of blue. A large television screen is placed above the southeast corner which shows a live scoreboard and action replays. It can be seen clearly by everyone except for those sat in front or right next to it.
With no pillars in this stand either, you can be assured of a clear view of the pitch from any seat here, or indeed any seat in the entire stadium.
Away fans are housed in the South Stand.
They are usually given the blocks of seating over by the southeast corner, with the barriered staircase and stewards used to segregate these fans from the ones next to them.
Reading’s most vocal home supporters usually go in the other South Stand blocks next to the away section in order to enhance the rival atmosphere and as a result this is the stand that easily produces the best noise out of anywhere in the stadium.
With no supporting pillars coming down from the roof, you have a perfectly clear view of the pitch from any seat inside the away section.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The mobile bar units in the Fan Zone outside the East Stand (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Greyfriar (53 Greyfriars Road, RG1 1PA) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near Reading Station)
-The Three Guineas (Station Approach, RG1 1LY) (Designated for Away Supporters) (Located right next to Reading Station)
-Walkabout (Wiston Terrace, RG1 1DG) (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The World Turned Upside Down (387 Basingstoke Road, RG2 0JE) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-Yates Reading (7-9 Friar Street, RG1 1DB) (Home Supporters Only)
*The Madejski Stadium's location limits the amount of pubs that are located near to it. If you have time, the recommendation would be to find a drink in Central Reading before making your way to the football ground.
If you’re looking for a modern venue that provides a great view of the action from any seat, you can’t go wrong with the Madejski Stadium.
Reading offer a great number of matchday activities to fans before they even enter the ground and take good care of away supporters too, providing them with an equally good view of the game whilst still keeping them segregated from the home support nearby.
It may not be the biggest ground in the country, or the most well-known, but it’s very hard to find faults in the Madejski Stadium that would make it an unsuitable venue for watching football in the 21st century.
A good place to go whether you’re there to back the home side or the away side.