Named after main sponsor DW Sports, which was owned famously by Dave Whelan, the DW Stadium has been home to Wigan Athletic Football Club and Wigan Warriors rugby league side since it opened back in 1999.
The stadium sits right near the River Douglas and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Less than a mile-and-a-half from the centre of Wigan in the Robin Park area.
In terms of ownership, the DW is run by the Wigan Football Company which is 85% owned by the football club. The remaining 15% is controlled by the local council.
The atmosphere can never be described as white-hot here given the lack of support for Wigan, at least in terms of numbers. However, the club has achieved full houses for certain games. It has also recorded some famous results at this ground since it opened.
History of the DW Stadium
Having spent fully 67 years at previous home Springfield Park, a new home venue was needed for Wigan Athletic. Plans were put in place in the late-90’s to build it in Robin Park.
Designed by Alfred McAlpine, as many others were, the new stadium was completed in the summer of 1999. It was named the JJB Stadium after its main sponsor.
Unusually given that at least geographically there is a ‘rivalry’ there, the ground was opened by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with a friendly game following between Wigan and Man United, fresh from their famous treble-winning season.
Around a month after the official opening, rugby league club Wigan Warriors left their old ground and also moved into the stadium, remaining as tenants ever since.
The stadium was almost closed to supporters in 2005 when Greater Manchester police threatened to cease policing at home games over unpaid costs, something that would have led to the club losing their safety licence.
After a decade as the JJB, a name change was on the cards when Dave Whelan bought out fitness clubs and shops from JJB Sports, with many venues becoming DWSportsfitness. As such, the stadium was renamed the DW Stadium in August ’09 and has remained that way since.
The DW has been regarded as being the Plough Lane of the modern-day with very little in the way of crowds, something that has done the football team no favours over the years.
The DW has shown its versatility over the years, but as a football stadium it is made up of the following things:
- Capacity: 25,138
- Record Attendance: 25,133 for Wigan Athletic v Manchester United in 2008
- Pitch: 105m x 68m, made up of a pure grass surface
- Stands: The Boston Stand, Springfield Stand, South Stand and North Stand make up the DW. The Boston stand holds the most spectators at over 8,000, but the opposite is the Springfield Stand named after Wigan’s old home which contains the dressing rooms, executive boxes etc.
Memorable Games at the DW
- Many fans will remember Wigan’s first league game at the DW in Division Two, a rousing 3-0 win against Scunthorpe United that set the team on their way to finishing in the play-off places.
- During the 2002/03 season, Wigan was promoted under Paul Jewell. While their league form was about consistency, their League Cup form was more extraordinary with home wins against Premier League sides West Bromwich Albion (3-1), Manchester City (1-0) and Fulham (2-1) the seasonal highlights.
- A 5-0 hammering of Crystal Palace in November 2003 lives long in the memory, while a season later Wigan was promoted to the Premier League with their last home game being a huge celebration, a 3-1 win against Reading.
- In front of 25,000 at the DW on Boxing Day 2005, Wigan won a thriller 4-3 against Manchester City, while an amazing 5-3 win against Blackburn Rovers two years later also ranks high.
- Despite a disappointing season in 2009/10, Wigan managed high-profile home wins against Chelsea (3-1), Liverpool (1-0) and Arsenal (3-2).
- Is if to almost replicate their 2007 performance, Wigan got the better of a seven-goal tussle against Blackburn Rovers in February 2011, this time with a 4-3 success.
- In 2011/12, Wigan was in the relegation places from the 7th game of the season right to the 32nd.
- Amazingly, they were saved after a run of four wins and a draw in their last five home games which featured successes against Stoke City (2-0), Newcastle United (4-0) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-2) on the final day.
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