St James’ Park is a large, fully seated stadium situated in the heart of Newcastle city centre. The stadium is home to Newcastle United Football Club and boasts a capacity of 52,338, making it the eighth largest football stadium (by seating capacity) in England.
The oldest football stadium in the North East, football has been played on the pitch at St James Park since 1880. Following the unification of Newcastle East End Football Club and Newcastle West End Football Club, the newly formed Newcastle United first played on the pitch in 1892.
In 1898, Newcastle United were promoted to the First Division and decided to make an effort to develop their stadium. The pitch was in a terrible state, so it was levelled and relayed and a stand was also built, which brought the capacity up to 30,000. Just five years later, the team were still going strong and they decided to expand their home further. A large new stand was erected, along with some terraces that doubled the stadiums capacity. The stadium even gained a swimming pool for the players and when the improvements were unveiled in 1905, the stadium was classed as the best of the country.
St James’ Park is bounded by Leazes Park, which houses the Georgian Leazes Terrace. This beautiful and historic terrace once boasted some of the most exclusive homes in Tyneside. However, being situated within such close proximity to these historic residences would later cause St James Park some major planning difficulties. Since 1905, the team has struggled to action any major improvements to their stadium for this reason. Numerous plans have been drawn up over the years, although most have been abandoned due to pressure from protest groups and disapproval from the local council. Despite this, the club managed to expand their capacity in the 1990s and 2000s by simply adding extra tiers to existing stands. In 2005, the stadium also gained a new bar, Shearers, which was named in honour of the teams legendary Alan Shearer, who spent a decade playing for the club. Following the purchase of the club by Mike Ashley, the bar was later renamed to Nine Sports Bar & Lounge, a nod to Shearer’s famous number 9 shirt.
Along with Old Trafford, City of Manchester Stadium, Villa Park, Emirates Stadium and the new Wembley Stadium, St James Park was named by FIFA as one of only six English football stadiums that are up to World Cup standard. As a result, the stadium hosted three matches in Euro 1996 and also hosted some of the football matches during the 2012 London Olympics.
St James’ Park has also held a number of gigs and concerts from a variety of acts, including Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.