City of Manchester Stadium
Address: Ashton New Road,
Capacity: 55,017 (All-Seater)
Not enough stadiums for my liking have spiral walkways.
More commonly known for sponsorship reasons as the Etihad Stadium, it was built between 1999 and 2002 in preparation for the Commonwealth Games which Manchester hosted that same year.
At the time, the current bottom tier did not exist and in its place instead was the athletics track used for the games.
Upon its completion, Manchester City Football Club moved into the ground at the end of their 2002-03 season, leaving their previous home Maine Road which they had been at since 1923.
More than £30 million was spent converting it for football use, and that work included digging below ground to create a new seating level, hospitality suite and emergency service tunnel that runs underneath the City of Manchester Stadium. Only a handful of grounds in Europe have done this as part of their construction work.
It has been the club’s home ever since their arrival and with a 200-year lease on the stadium from Manchester City Council, it is set to be their home for much, much longer.
Location and Getting There
The City of Manchester Stadium is located approximately two miles east of Manchester City Centre, in the aforementioned Etihad Campus which is a little while north of Beswick.
You’re spoilt for choice if you come by car; the City of Manchester Stadium has a very good number of payable car parks around the vicinity of the ground, and you may find free parking down the streets of nearby suburbs. Be careful though as certain roads will have strict parking restrictions in place on matchdays.
The route most people choose to take is by rail.
Manchester’s Metro system has a stop named Etihad Campus, which puts you right on the doorstep of the stadium's northern side. The two lines you can take from Manchester Piccadilly Station to here are either the service to Etihad Campus or the one which goes further on towards Ashton-under-Lyne. If your train gets you into Manchester Victoria Station, you can take a Metro service over to Piccadilly Station, or alternatively walk, which takes around 10-15 minutes.
Be very careful if you are taking the tram to the Etihad though. This is the way most fans will use to travel and as a result, the Metro carriages become extremely cramped and you will find yourself stuck in a very confined space.
If this is not something you are comfortable with, you will either need to arrive very early or find another way there.
Outside the Stadium
Coming from the Etihad Campus Metro Stop brings you first to the North Stand.
The exterior is made up mostly of large silver panels with a grey brickwork base, and the Main Ticket Office is housed in the very centre.
Gates A and B are to the left of the Ticket Office, with Gates Y and Z to the right.
A timeline of Manchester City's most important moments is laid out across the North Stand's exterior, just above the brickwork base.
A short way out beyond the North Stand is a covered stage that forms part of the matchday Fan Zone. In the build-up to every game, a live show is put on here that includes music, dance, and interviews with important Manchester City figures. The show is broadcast live onto three large electronic screens close by.
Out beyond here is a large rectangular building holding Manchester City's Superstore, and behind that is a long blue bridge that runs over both the tram lines and the canal, leading down to two of the stadium's main car parks, along with the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre.
This route has been named after Joe Mercer. Born in Ellesmere Port on 9th August 1914, Mercer played for Everton and Arsenal during a more than 20-year career, moving into management after retiring in 1955. He became Manchester City manager in 1965, guiding the club back into the top flight and going on to win the First Divison Title in 1968, the FA Cup in 1969, the League Cup in 1970, and the UEFA European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970.
Carrying an everlasting legacy at Manchester City, Mercer passed away on 9th August 1990 at the age of 76.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction from the North Stand brings you to the East Stand.
The exterior follows a similar design to the North Stand, but the most eye-catching features here are the four spiral staircases. They hold Gates C, E, G and J respectively, with Gates D, F and H in-between them.
Each spiral staircase has a blue strip running around it which lists either the names of season ticket holders or the names of official Manchester City Supporters Clubs.
At the top of each staircase additionally is a long metal pole with large wires coming down from it. This is a common feature of the whole City of Manchester Stadium and is used as an alternative to a cantilever roof, further giving the ground a more unique design.
Manchester City have erected giant pictures of some of the club's more recent successes above both Gates D and H. Gate F meanwhile is the East Stand reception, which forms part of a large glass façade.
The stand on non-matchdays is home to UCFB (University Campus of Football Business), a higher education institution which offers degrees in the football, sports and events industry. The City of Manchester Stadium has been the home of UCFB's northern campus since the institution moved from Burnley's Turf Moor in 2016. Its southern campus is based at Wembley Stadium, and the institution has further global campuses in Australia and North America.
Heading away from the City of Manchester Stadium's southeast corner brings you to a large circular mural, which has the Manchester City Club Badge on it along with the lyrics "Blue Moon. You saw me standing alone." The song, originally written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, has become Manchester City's fan anthem over the years.
Out beyond here is a large white bridge that takes supporters over the busy main road and down to the nearby CFA Complex, including the 7,000-seater Academy Stadium.
The South Stand has a different shape and design to the rest of the City of Manchester Stadium, using large silver panels and giant glass windows to create a very nice, modern façade. Large beams protrude out of the stand and the wires coming off there hold the South Stand roof up.
Gates L, M and N are spread across the South Stand's base.
Above Gates L and N are two more giant pictures detailing some of the most important recent successes for both the men's team and the women's team.
The West Stand is named after Colin Bell.
Born in Hesleden on 26th February 1946, Bell was a midfielder who joined Manchester City in 1966 from Bury. A key part of Joe Mercer's successful team, Bell played nearly 500 times for the club across a 13 year period, scoring more than 150 goals. He won the Second Division Title with Manchester City in 1966, the First Divison Title in 1968, the FA Cup in 1969, two League Cups in 1970 and 1976, and the UEFA European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970.
Bell became known as 'The King of the Kippax' whilst with Manchester City, earning the name from the Kippax Street Terrace at Maine Road that was renowned for its singing.
Capped 48 times by England, Colin Bell passed away on 5th January 2021 at the age of 74. The West Stand at the City of Manchester Stadium has been named after him since February 2004.
The Colin Bell Stand's exterior is an almost exact carbon-copy of the East Stand opposite, again using the four spiral staircases (Gates R, T, V and X) with supporters club and season ticket holders' names listed on the staircases' outer walls.
Gate U forms part of the West Reception, which is also the entrance players and officials use on a matchday. Gates S and W are between the spiral staircases and once again there are giant pictures of some of Manchester City's most recent successes up above them.
Away from the Etihad Stadium's northwest corner is the Manchester Regional Arena, a small stadium used primarily for athletics that can seat 6,500 people. UCFB's 1st and 2nd football teams play on the Regional Arena's pitch.
Next door to the arena is the National Squash Centre, another key part of the Etihad Campus.
Inside the Stadium
The North Stand is divided into two tiers of blue seating, with a row of executive boxes right up along the very back.
The roof here is lower down than at any other part of the stadium and this makes the North Stand the smallest of the four. The letters ETIHAD are spelt out in white across the lower tier blocks.
Large electronic screens hang above the northeast and northwest corners, showing action replays and a live scoreboard during the game.
Because of the maze of wires outside the City of Manchester Stadium, there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view of the pitch from any tier is perfectly clear, with good protection from the elements as well.
The East Stand continues the same two-tiered design of the adjacent North Stand but has an additional third tier above, which is semi-circular in shape.
Rows of executive boxes are in place which separate each tier from one another. The letters CITY are spelt out using white seats across all three tiers.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear, though it is worth noting that the higher up the stand you go, the steeper the rows become and it is easy to fall down the rows in front if you are not careful.
The South Stand follows a similar design to the adjacent East Stand, continuing the two lower tiers with a semi-circular third tier and rows of executive boxes dividing the three levels from one another.
Most of the seats in this stand are blue, although the Puma company logo is made out of white seating in the centre of the bottom tier. The bottom tier in turn contains rail seating that allows fans to stand safely during matches.
Much like the East Stand, your view is perfectly clear from anywhere inside, and the top tier rows get progressively steeper as you go higher up.
The Colin Bell Stand follows a very similar design to the East Stand opposite.
It uses the same two tiers as the rest of the stadium, meaning that these form two continuous rings of blue seating that go the entire way around, and there is additionally a semi-circular third tier at the very top.
Executive boxes separate the three levels from one another, with the some of the stand's executive seating blocks at the back of the lower tier. Manchester City's dugouts are in front of here, with the tunnel in the centre and the changing rooms based inside. The main executive seating area, used mostly by the chairman and directors, is based in the Chairman's Lounge in the middle tier.
Like the rest of the City of Manchester Stadium, your view is perfectly clear from anywhere inside as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof.
The Colin Bell Stand also houses the Tunnel Club. It is one of Manchester City's main executive suites, with seating right behind the dugouts and it gives fans the opportunity to watch Manchester City's players head down the stadium tunnel before they make their way onto the pitch.
Where away fans are seated depends a lot on the allocation, but it is always in the South Stand.
Smaller crowds are given exclusively the lower tier blocks next to the southeast corner, but bigger crowds are given all three tiers in this corner of the stadium. I have also known the club to give away fans the entire top tier of the South Stand and leave the bottom two tiers open to home supporters. If you are based in the bottom tier, you will be able to make use of rail seating which allows you to stand safely during matches.
It simply comes down to exactly how many tickets Manchester City give to the visiting team. Expect more for domestic competitions and fewer away fans for European matches. Regardless of where the away section is though, every supporter in there is given a perfectly clear view of the action taking place on the pitch.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The Fan Zone at the City of Manchester Stadium (Predominantly Home Supporters)
-Mary D's Beamish Bar (13 Grey Mare Lane, M11 3DQ) (Home Supporters Only)
-Within the Printworks (27 Withy Grove, M4 2BS) (Southeast of Manchester Victoria Station and connected via Metrolink to Manchester Piccadilly)
-The Townley (31 Albert Street, M11 3QW) (Typically Home and Away Supporters, Away Supporters advised to hide colours from view and be discrete)
*The general recommendation for away supporters is to find a drink within the centre of Manchester before making your way to the City of Manchester Stadium. Pubs within close range of the stadium are typically for home supporters only.
The City of Manchester Stadium is a prime example of exactly how good the modern football ground can be.
Manchester City have redeveloped what started out as an athletics venue and turned it into an arena fit for association football at any level, with its exterior design being one of the most unique out there.
With multiple ways to get to it and a great view from any seat inside, this is a stadium you simply have to come and see a game at.