Millennium Stadium

Address: Westgate Street,

Cardiff,

Wales,

CF10 1NS

Capacity: 74,500 (All-Seater)

Millennium Stadium.jpg

A first class sporting venue that doesn’t have football as its main use anymore, but would be more than suitable for hosting games if the opportunity arose again.

Known for sponsorship reasons as the Principality Stadium, it is the national stadium of Wales, regularly hosting games involving Wales’ National Rugby Union Team but also possessing a notable history with football matches.

The story of the Millennium Stadium can date back to the 1995, when Wales had been selected to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup. The National Stadium in place at the time could hold 53,000 people, seen as too small when especially compared to other rugby stadiums in the UK and France. The stadium was additionally only fully visible from select directions and had limited accessibility with the main entrance being just a narrow opening to the east that was used by both pedestrians and vehicles.

Plans were drawn together to redevelop the National Stadium, with ideas including adding a third tier onto the already existing stadium or moving to a completely new site altogether. The decision was eventually made to build a new stadium on the site of the old one but have a much higher capacity. Plans also included the new stadium having a sliding roof, something that was only present in the Netherlands at the time.

The National Stadium was closed on 27th April 1997, with demolition taking place that same year. Adjacent buildings also had to be demolished to create sufficient room for the new stadium, and the whole construction project cost £121 million.

By 1999, the Millennium Stadium was complete, taking its name from the Millennium Commission who had contributed significantly to its construction.

The Millennium Stadium held its first sporting event on 26th June 1999, a rugby union test match between Wales and South Africa which finished 29-19 to the hosts.

Primarily a rugby venue nowadays, the Millennium Stadium has been used for a number of major sporting events since opening. It continues to hold Wales’ International Rugby Union fixtures, including any home matches during the Six Nations that also includes England, France, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland. At club level, the stadium also played host to five Heineken Cup Finals between 2002 and 2014.

At the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the Millennium Stadium hosted seven games including the Final where Australia beat France 35-12.

Despite the 2007 Rugby World Cup being hosted in France, the Millennium Stadium was selected as an additional venue and hosted four games included a quarter final that saw France beat New Zealand 20-18.

The stadium was in turn selected as an additional venue at the 2015 Rugby World Cup that was hosted by England. It hosted eight games at the tournament included a 62-13 quarter final win for New Zealand over France and a 43-20 quarter final win for Argentina over Ireland.

The Millennium Stadium has in turn been used for International Rugby League fixtures as well, hosting two group games at the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and another two games at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

The year after opening, the Millennium Stadium played home to the majority of Welsh International football matches, though the regular home has since become the Cardiff City Stadium elsewhere in the capital.

Whilst construction of the Millennium Stadium was taking place, Wembley Stadium in London hosted Wales’ rugby matches. The favour would be returned when Wembley underwent reconstruction in the early 2000s, and the Millennium Stadium became the home to the FA Cup Final, League Cup Final, Football League Trophy Final, Football League Play-Off Finals, and Community Shield matches between 2001 and early 2007.

Famous football games at the Millennium Stadium include Liverpool’s late comeback 2-1 win over Arsenal in 2001, and also Liverpool’s penalty shootout win following a 3-3 draw with West Ham United in 2006.

The Millennium Stadium was a host venue for the football competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics and played host to the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final, a 4-1 win for Spanish side Real Madrid over Italian side Juventus.

It is no longer seen as a regular football venue, but still possesses the facilities to host the sport and will likely be used for many major events in Wales in the future.

Location and Getting There

The Millennium Stadium is located right on the east bank of the River Taff and right next to Cardiff City Centre. The National Museum Cardiff is around 0.6 miles away to the northeast, the Bute East Dock is around 0.7 miles away to the east, the Cardiff City Stadium is around 0.9 miles away to the west, and the Sophia Gardens Cricket Ground is around 0.7 miles away to the northwest.

I would discourage supporters from travelling to the Millennium Stadium by car.

Its location within central Cardiff means that there are multiple road restrictions put in place on a matchday. You will not be able to get near to in a car before kick-off, let alone park anywhere within range of it.

If you do wish to bring a car to Cardiff, the recommendation is to make use of the Park and Ride services available in Leckwith to the west. They are not cheap though and it is best to book them in advance.

Coming to the Millennium Stadium by public transport is much simpler.

Cardiff Central Station, served by Transport for Wales, Great Western Railway and CrossCountry is located a very short distance away to the southeast of the stadium.

Alternatively there is Cardiff Queen Street Station, served by Transport for Wales, located a 10-15 minute walk east of the Millennium Stadium.

 

Cardiff International Airport is located around nine miles southwest of the Millennium Stadium and is a lot closer to Barry than it is Cardiff.

There is a shuttle bus which runs hourly between the airport and the Rhoose Cardiff International Airport Station to the south. From Rhoose, you are then able to take a Transport for Wales train into Cardiff Central and walk the short distance from there to the Millennium Stadium.

Alternatively, you can take the T9 express bus service which goes from the airport terminal directly to the City Centre.

Outside the Stadium

Heading to the Millennium Stadium from Cardiff Central Station should first bring you to the South Stand.

Most of its exterior is blocked from view by a large building right in front of it that holds a gym and a cinema among other facilities. Head past this building however and you are able to get a better view of the South Stand’s exterior, which uses mostly a green panelled base, blue panels higher up, a section of red panels above these that protrudes outwards, and white supporting pillars coming down from the roof. The underside of the stand’s highest tier is also visible from outside.

What is also noticeable about the Millennium Stadium’s exterior are the large cantilever supports that protrude outwards and upwards. There is one of those supports located on each of the stadium’s four corners. The support on the southwest corner has a white metal fence a little out in front of it, and that prevents visitors from heading further up the stadium’s western side on a matchday.

You can find two of the Millennium Stadium’s seven gates around here. Gate 7 is a little away from the river bank and Gate 6 is to the right, at the end of an opening underneath the adjacent gym and cinema building.

The white gates outside the southwest corner are only open on non-matchdays. They remain closed on matchdays, and so only supporters based on the southern and western sides of the stadium are permitted to enter through their specific gate and enter the space behind them.

The River Walk, known as Millennium Walk, passes right alongside the River Taff and right outside the stadium’s West Stand. With accessibility to it limited on a matchday, the best view to get a good view of it is on Fitzhamon Embankment on the other side of the river.

The exterior of the West Stand looks similar to the adjacent South Stand. It consists of a green panelled base, blue panels higher up, a section of red panels above these that protrudes outwards, and white supporting pillars coming down from the roof. The underside of the stand’s highest tier is visible from outside, and the lower parts of the stand include a glass façade that leads to some of the executive areas inside.

There are none of the stadium’s gates outside the West Stand, with fans based in here typically making use of either Gate 7 outside the stadium’s southwest corner or Gate 1 a little away from the stadium’s northwest corner.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to check your ticket so that you know exactly which gate you need to enter. Since the River Walk is closed off to non-ticket holders on a matchday, you will need to walk around the whole of the Millennium Stadium and its immediate surroundings in order to get between Gate 7 to the southwest and Gate 1 to the northwest.

The alternative route involves crossing the river and walking past the stadium along the other bank, but this isn’t that much quicker.

The Millennium Stadium’s North Stand is the least accessible of the four, whether that be on a matchday or a non-matchday.

The reason for this is because of what is immediately out in front of it, a roughly-12,000 capacity rugby union stadium called Cardiff Arms Park. It has been present since 1969 when the old National Stadium was in place right next to it and is home to Cardiff Rugby Football Club and the Cardiff Blues.

Given that there is also a car park, bowling green and a Holiday Inn immediately out beyond Cardiff Arms Park, you will need to head a fair distance away from the Millennium Stadium in order to get between the northwest and northeast corners. The route requires you to head north up Millennium Way, head past the Holiday Inn on Castle Street (A4161), and onto Westgate Street which heads past the eastern side of the Millennium Stadium.

The northeast corner of the Millennium Stadium has Gate 2 outside of it and can be accessed at the end of a ramp from off Westgate Street.

The East Stand is very similar in design to the West Stand opposite, consisting of a green panelled base, blue panels higher up, a section of red panels above these that protrudes outwards, and white supporting pillars coming down from the roof. The underside of the stand’s highest tier is visible from outside, and the lower parts of the stand include a red glass façade that leads to some of the executive areas inside.

Gate 3 is located outside the East Stand and can be accessed at the end of a ramp from off Westgate Street. It is a short distance away from Gate 2 and the stadium’s northeast corner, and fans notably must walk either under or around a set of lights that are joined together to look like a rugby goalpost.

Further along Westgate Street, on the other side of a pair of buildings that include the Welsh Rugby Union Store, is a route leading up to Gate 4. This gate is for security only, however.

Between Gate 2 and Gate 3 on the eastern side of the Millennium Stadium is a statue of Sir Tasker Watkins.

Born in Nelson, Caerphilly on 18th November 1918, Watkins is noted for becoming president of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1993, having played as an outside-half for the Army, Cardiff Rugby Football Club and Glamorgan Wanderers in his younger years. He oversaw Welsh rugby’s switch from amateur, club competition to professional, regional competition whilst president of the WRU, and remained in the role until he stepped down on 26th September 2004.

A long-standing figure at Glamorgan Wanderers and a life vice patron of the WRU, Sir Tasker Watkins passed away on 9th September 2007 at the age of 88. The nine-foot bronze statue of him outside the Millennium Stadium was unveiled on 15th November 2009.

To get round from the East Stand to the South Stand, you can head further south along Westgate Street, past Gate 4, and turn right onto Park Street. Doing so will bring you past the Cardiff Civil and Family Justice Centre, past the BT Stadium House, and up to the stadium’s southeast corner.

This is where you can find Gate 5 right underneath the southeast cantilever support and continuing all the way along Park Street will eventually bring you back onto Wood Street and back in line with Gate 6 and Gate 7.

Inside the Stadium

The South Stand is divided into three tiers.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern. The South Stand roof hangs over all three tiers, and there is a large electronic scoreboard hanging down from the front of it which 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.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The southwest corner uses the same three-tiered design as the adjacent South Stand.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back. The difference between here and the South Stand however is that you can find executive boxes in place behind the bottom tier’s back row.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern.

Your view from anywhere inside the southwest corner is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The West Stand uses the same three-tiered design as the adjacent southwest corner.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back. There are executive boxes in place behind the bottom tier’s back row, and the central seating block also contains a red press area at the back.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back. There is also a flat platform for disabled supporters to use at either end of the West Stand’s middle tier.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern. There is also a flat platform for disabled supporters to use at either end of the West Stand’s top tier, and space down at the front of the central blocks holds the Millennium Stadium’s matchday camera.

Your view from anywhere inside the West Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The northwest corner uses the same three-tiered design as the adjacent West Stand.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern. Part of the top tier’s back row is lower down than in the rest of the northwest corner however, and this is because of the shape of the adjacent North Stand.

Your view from anywhere inside the northwest corner is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The North Stand is the only side of the Millennium Stadium that consists of two tiers rather than three, with the top tier significantly larger and steeper than the tier beneath.

The lower tier makes use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back.

The upper tier hangs partly over the lower tier beneath, consisting of red seating at the front and green seating at the back. This upper tier also has six single-rowed blocks of red seating right up at the back. The North Stand roof hangs over both tiers, and there is a large electronic scoreboard hanging down from the front of it which can best be seen by those at the opposite end of the stadium.

Your view of the pitch from anywhere inside the North Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The northeast corner mirrors the design of the northwest corner, consisting of three tiers.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern. Part of the top tier’s back row is lower down than in the rest of the northwest corner however, and this is because of the shape of the adjacent North Stand.

Your view from anywhere inside the northeast corner is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The East Stand uses the same three-tiered design as the adjacent southwest corner.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back. There are executive boxes in place behind the bottom tier’s back row, and you can find the stadium’s substitute benches and tunnel down the front with the changing rooms inside.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back. There is also a section of darker coloured, directors seating up at the back of the tier’s central block. A flat platform for disabled supporters to use can additionally be found at either end of the West Stand’s middle tier.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern. Two sets of the letters BT can be found spelt out using white seating in this top tier. There is also a flat platform for disabled supporters to use at either end.

Your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

The southeast corner mirrors the design of the southwest corner, consisting of three tiers.

The bottom tier is the shallowest, making use of red seating in its front rows and green seating further back. You can also find executive boxes in place behind the bottom tier’s back row.

The middle tier hangs partly over the bottom tier beneath, consisting entirely of red seating with a row of executive boxes up at the very back.

The top tier is the largest and the steepest, consisting of green seating at the front and blue seating at the back that is shaped to form a continuous wave-like pattern.

Your view from anywhere inside the southeast corner is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.

The stadium’s enclosed design in turn means that every row inside is fully protected.

Away Fans

Unlike other major stadiums in the UK, home and away fans at the Millennium Stadium typically aren’t segregated, with the exception being major cup finals when the stadium is usually split in two between the two fanbases.

Regardless of whether segregation is or isn’t in place however, you are treated to a clear view of the pitch from anywhere inside.

Some people do note however that at the very back of the bottom tier, where the middle tier hangs partly overhead, you can feel a little disconnected from the rest of the stadium as your upward view is restricted.

Matchday Pubs

Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:

-The Big Blue Sports Bar and Grill (Trinity Street, St Davids Centre, CF10 1BH) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)

-The Borough (8 St Mary Street, CF10 1AT) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located east of the Millennium Stadium)

-The Central Bar (39 Windsor Place, CF10 3BW) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northwest of Cardiff Queen Street Station)

-The City Arms (10-12 Quarry Street, CF10 1EA) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northeast of the Millennium Stadium)

-The Cottage (26 St Mary Street, CF10 1GB) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located east of the Millennium Stadium)

-The Gatekeeper (9-10 Westgate Street, CF10 1DD) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northeast of the Millennium Stadium)

-The Great Western (64 St Mary Street, CF10 1FA) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located southeast of the Millennium Stadium)

-Henry’s Café Bar Cardiff (Park Chambers, CF10 3DN) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northwest of Cardiff Queen Street Station)

-The Owain Glyndwr (10 St John Street, CF10 1GL) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northeast of the Millennium Stadium)

-The Prince of Wales (81-83 St Mary Street, CF10 1FA) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located southeast of the Millennium Stadium)

-The Tiny Rebel Cardiff (25 Westgate Street, CF10 1DD) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located northeast of the Millennium Stadium)

Overview

Built on the site of the country’s old National Stadium, the Millennium Stadium is a first class venue capable of holding large crowds at major sporting events. Maintaining a consistent design both inside and out, its four main cantilever roof supports are a notable exterior feature, whilst the interior is an almost fully three-tiered design that offers clear views of the pitch for everyone sat inside.

Once the home of the major English cup finals for a short period, football may no longer be its primary use, but the Millennium Stadium remains a leading venue and a candidate to host major football games in the future.

This is a stadium well and truly worth checking out if the opportunity arises.