Windsor Park

Capacity18 614
133+133 (Disabled seats)
Country Northern Ireland
CityBelfast
ClubsLinfield FC
Inauguration 1905
Renovations lata 1930, 1970, 1980, 1996, 2014-2016
Cost £ 38 million (2014-2016)
Design Hamilton Architects (2014-2016)
Contractor O‘Hare and McGovern (2014-2016)
Address Donegal Avenue, Belfast, BT12 6LW

Description: Windsor Park

The story of Windsor Park begins in 1905, when two of Northern Ireland’s most popular clubs – Glentoran and Linfield – player their Belfast derby. The ground, bearing name of its district Windsor, earned its fame in 1930’s, though.

It was then that complex revamp by Archibald Leitch was carried out to increase capacity to even 60,000 people. With only one seated stand (southern one, and even it was only partly seated) and three big terracing sections it was Ulster’s biggest venue. And best due to decent standard with only one stand uncovered – western Spion Kop.

However over the years its size started decreasing significantly. First in 1970’s with first (and to date only) two-tiered stand in the north, all seated. Then in 1980’s the Spion Kop was removed and though the new west stand is still called the Kop, it’s a 5,000-seat stand.

Today’s stadium is a mixture of stands built in 1930’s, 70’s and 80’s. No wonder that without big renovation spending it started raising concerns over spectator safety from both FIFA and UEFA. Thus capacity, realistically at almost 25,000, was restricted to just 12,950 for European games and even less for domestic ones, while no stadium in Northern Ireland was deemed compliant.

It’s no wonder that plans for a new ground began appearing. However, none of the proposed relocations, particularly to Lisburn, came to fruition. Consequently in 2012 a new vision of redeveloped Windsor Park came up. And more importantly, it came along with substantial grants from the British Department for Culture, Media & Sport, who stepped up to aid Northern Ireland’s dire stadium crisis.

Detailed proposal for the stadium’s revamp was drawn by Hamilton Architects. Along the plan new stands were to be built in the south and east, while west and north ones were to be improved significantly. This would have been the case if not for serious cracks revealed during reconstruction in the west end. It was eventually demolished and rebuilt from scratch as well.

The massive project brought complete change in Windsor Park’s appearance. Now dominated with light colours and green-blue decorations, the building is more dynamic and stands out in Belfast’s landscape even without its old floodlight masts. It’s also equipped with significant floorspace, enabling both Linfield and the Irish FA to have their offices here, as well as providing banqueting facilities and room for two sports stores.

Owner and main team are Linfield FC, but national team or Northern Ireland is also using it. Annually the domestic cup final is also decided here.

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