SeasideEssexXile previews Cardiff City’s ground ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Wales.
Cardiff City Stadium – Cardiff City
They say when you fall off a bike the best thing you can do is to get straight back on it. Holloway will be so disappointed with Mondays` display that at least 5 of the starting 11 will be sat on the bench at best and the remaining half dozen or so will try to restore some pride, and more importantly some points on the table. It won`t be an easy task, in what on paper is our toughest test so far.
After 99 years at Ninian Park Cardiff moved a stone throw away to their new ground. First mooted as a long term target by former owner Sam Hammam, the new stadium first gained public approval after a meeting between Hammam and then Cardiff Lord Mayor Russell Goodway in January 2002, giving the club 12 months to agree a planning and business plan. In November 2002 the club and Cardiff Council signed an outline agreement for the development, subject to later agreement for outline planning permission.
In March 2003, stories began to emerge that the Chief Executive of the Millennium Stadium wanted Cardiff City to use their stadium instead, and saw no viable plan for two 50,000+ seat capacity stadium in the Welsh capital This was increased in light of Cardiff City’s promotion to the Championship in May 2003 with local fears over traffic and access problems.
However, on 20 August 2003 Cardiff councilors gave unanimous approval to the stadium plans, although expressed concerns over the need and scale of the retail development but understood its need to fund the stadium. On 9 September 2003 the Welsh Assembly gave approval to the plan.
In April 2004, Cardiff Council gave the first phase covering the stadium with a capacity of 30,000 seats and new athletics track approval. The next phase was held up by various legal and technical delays from November 2004 to January 2005, when the council gave approval to three detailed plans for the retail development, subject to agreement of suitable underlying business plans.
Although development could have then started in May 2005, the underlying need for seed financing revealed the financial status of Cardiff City football club as poor, with over £30 million of debt. It was also revealed that players and staff had not been paid for a month as the club struggled to honour a wage bill believed to be £750,000 a month, while auditors were looking at possible cutbacks. On 1 March 2005 the club delayed the development until at least July 2005.
After a 1-0 home loss to Sheffield United and a mobbing by fans, on 6 March 2005 Hammam apologised to fans, and released club accounts which showed club debt at March 2004 at £29.6 million. Effectively, this was the start of the end of the Hammam era at Cardiff City, as he could not fund the required development.
After a summer sale of players, the entry of former Leeds United chairman Peter Ridsdale and numerous rumours, the development was given a 90 day time period by Cardiff Council from 31 December 2005 to finalise the underlying business plan. On 31 January 2006 the developers secured Asda as the lead retailer of the new development, which enabled the final funding of the stadium to start. This allowed the council timetable to extend by four months to September 2006.
On 24 October 2006 Laing O`Rourke won the contract to develop the 30,000 seat stadium, which Ridsdale stated would be ready for December 2008. On 27 November 2006 Cardiff Council approved the business plan for the stadium, and granted a 125 year lease for the land on which the stadium was to sit upon, allowing the final planning approval to be gained from the council authority and the office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
In March 2007, the stadium plans were altered to allow construction to begin as soon as possible. To minimise construction costs, the 30,000 capacity was reduced to 25,000 by removing three-quarters of the second tier of seating, however the plans allow the option of completing the second tier to reach the 30,000 capacity if required. The former chairman of Cardiff City, Steve Borley, said in March 2008 that ‘We are working to raise the capacity and right now it stands at 26,830. The task is to raise that even further, and we believe it could be almost 28,000 when the stadium opens.’
When work finally commenced Peter Ridsdale stated that he expected the stadium to be ready by Christmas 2008 but it was finally completed in May 2009. Although some believe this slight delay was caused by Cardiff City’s ongoing legal action with Langston, it was actually caused by unexpectedly poor weather during the summer of 2007. The stadium was officially opened on 22 July 2009, with Cardiff City playing a friendly match against Celtic.
The capacity stands at 26,828 and reasonably priced for away fans at £21. I expect around the 750 – 800 mark to travel.
How To Get There
From the North – M55, M6 South to J8 take the M5 signposted the South West.
Leave the 5 at J8 and take the 2nd exit to the M50 signposted South Wales / Ross.
At M50 – Junction 4 roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A40 (signposted Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth), At roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the A40 (signposted South Wales, Monmouth. At roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A40 (signposted Newport, Abergavenny, Chepstow, Forest of Dean). At traffic signals continue forward (signposted Newport, Abergavenny). Continue forward onto the A449. At Coldra roundabout take the 5th exit, then join the M4 motorway (signposted Cardiff, M4). To avoid driving through the centre of Cardiff, leave the M4 at junction 33 and take the A4232 towards Cardiff/Barry. Keep on the A4232 towards Cardiff and then leave the dual carriageway at the B4267 exit, signposted ‘Cardiff (Leckwith) Athletics Stadium’. Follow the signs for the stadium.
For the Virgin Lovers amongst us – The nearest railway station is Ninian Park Halt, a short walk from the ground. This station is on a local line which is served by trains from Cardiff Central.
Where To Drink
Nowhere nearby away fan friendly, drink in the centre at the usual chain haunts.
Ale is on sale inside the ground.
Heddlu + Stewards
Not quite as daunting as a trip to Ninian, on the plus side the police usually have enough on their plate with the fans rather than worrying about the travelling support.
Fear Factor Rating – 6
Cardiff has seen some great Pool memories and some fantastic victories. Monday`s result wasn`t half as disappointing as the lacklustre performance. Instead of sitting on top of the pile it`s so close with a couple of tough away games in 3 days we could be mid table this time next week. Time to get back on that bike and pedal like crazy.
ymlaen ac i fyny