Emirates Stadium


Duration:3 years

Cost:(390m (£518m today)

Country: London, UK

What did this project achieve?

Build a football stadium for one of the Premier League’s most successful teams

The Emirates Stadium is a football stadium in Highbury, north London. The 60,000-seat ground has been home to Arsenal Football Club since 2006.

The structure is the third-largest stadium in England after Wembley and Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

Arsenal’s move to the Emirates started in 1997. The club needed a new stadium as capacity at its current ground - home since 1913 - had been reduced from 57,000 to less than 40,000 after refurbishment work to install seating.

This lower capacity – combined with higher ticket prices brought in to service existing debts – had led to lower attendances at matches.

The club needed to attract a growing fanbase to compete financially with the biggest teams in England. Manchester United, for example, had seen gate receipts rise from £43m to £88m after Old Trafford was expanded in 1997.

Following opposition from local residents over plans to demolish the ground – the scheme included knocking down 25 nearby houses – Arsenal considered buying Wembley stadium. The Football Association blocked the move, claiming it would harm a bid for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Arsenal finally decided on building a new stadium at Ashburton Grove – about 460m from Highbury. The new ground was named after a sponsorship deal with Emirates airlines.

Difference the project has made

The Emirates Stadium provided a new home ground for Arsenal, which was outgrowing its previous stadium at Highbury.

The project boosted the local economy, with £2.2m in supply and construction contracts going to businesses in the area. The scheme is also credited with creating 1,800 long-term jobs.

Work for the stadium helped redevelop the area. New infrastructure included two railway bridges and an access road, as well as parks and open spaces.

How the work was done

Building the Emirates Stadium presented a number of challenges for engineers working on the project. As the site is in a built-up area, all construction work had to be done within the site itself.

This meant the four steel trusses – the frameworks that support the 27,000m² roof – had to be assembled on what would become the stadium pitch.

Engineers built the two larger trusses – each with a span of 204m - in two halves on the pitch area.

The trusses were then lifted onto four gigantic tripods - one at each corner of the stadium - before being bolted together.

The project team constructed the stadium’s north bridge in two 180 tonne sections. It was lifted into place using a 750 tonne crane.

The Emirates Stadium was completed ahead of schedule in 2006. Arsenal’s first match at the ground was against Aston Villa on 19 August that year. The game ended in a one-all draw.


Probably the best club stadium in Europe

Ken Friar

Managing Director, Arsenal FC

Fascinating facts

Club management began a programme of ‘Arsenalisation’ at the stadium following suggestions from fans. The intention was to turn the ground into ‘a visual stronghold of all things Arsenal’, according to the club’s website.

The scheme included eight large murals going up around the exterior of the stadium. They portrayed 32 ‘Arsenal legends’, such as Ian Wright and Charlie George.

Later ‘Arsenalisation’ saw statues of former captain Tony Adams, record goal scorer Thierry Henry, and manager Herbert Chapman unveiled outside the stadium.

People who made it happen

  • Client: Arsenal FC
  • Architect: Populous
  • Structural engineers: Sir Robert McAlpine, BuroHappold

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