Known during its project phase as the Kirklees Stadium, the John Smith’s Stadium is primarily a rugby league and football venue in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
As the rights to the name of the stadium are sold, the John Smith’s Stadium is only a current title. Both the Alfred McAlpine Stadium and the Galpharm Stadium having been used as monikers before.
The John Smith’s is owned by three separate entities; Kirklees Council and the two residents of the ground, Huddersfield Town Football Club and Huddersfield Giants Rugby League Football Club.
John Smith’s Stadium History and Timeline
1992 – 1994
Both Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants played their games at Leeds Road. However, by the 1990s in need of major expansion, renovation and updating it became clear that such a project may be too much.
Instead, the idea was conceived that a new stadium would be built. The Terriers played Blackpool in their final game at the old ground in April 1994 before it was demolished to make way for a retail park in the area.
Designed by Populous and built by Aldred McAlpine, the stadium bore the name of the builder initially. The first game took place in August 1994, a year after construction began. Despite the fact, only the two stands on the sides of the ground were actually ready.
1995 – 2004
After all of the stands were completed the capacity moved up to over 24,000. In December 2009, part-owners Huddersfield Town announced that 40% of shares previously owned by Huddersfield Sporting Pride would move to the club. In 2010 Gareth Davis succeeded Ralph Rimmer as managing director of the stadium company.
Alfred McAlpine, having been part of the payment contract for ten years, finally finished their deal. This gave them naming rights to the stadium.
2005 – Present
Having taken over naming rights, Galpharm Healthcare became a major sponsor. Their title was given to the venue which now became the Galpharm Stadium.
This changed in 2012 when the rights were bought by Heineken who decided to use their popular Yorkshire brand John Smith’s as the title sponsor. This move breathed new life into the stadium and it became a Premier League venue in 2017.
Little more than 20 years old, the John Smith’s Stadium has plenty of life left in it yet. It could comfortably once again host top-level football as well as rugby league matches.
While being among the newer football stadiums in Britain but not among the biggest, you’d be forgiven for thinking the John Smith’s doesn’t produce the best of atmospheres. You would, of course, be wrong.
The John Smith’s Stadium consistently produces the sort of noise that evokes memories of football in the ’80s given its clever design, made up of the following areas of the ground and encompassing the following numbers:
- Capacity: 24,121
- Record Attendance: 24,169 (Huddersfield Town v West Bromwich Albion, 2017) for football and 24,375 (England v Ireland, 2013) for rugby league.
- Pitch: 105m x 69m, made up of grass with an undersoil heating system.
- Stands: North Stand, East Stand, South Stand and West Stand. The last-named is essentially the main stand at Huddersfield, incorporating the tunnel, dugouts, club shop, ticket office, changing rooms and hospitality boxes.
Memorable Moments in Huddersfield
Five years after opening, the McAlpine Stadium as it was then hosted its first international football match when England Under-21’s played Sweden, the game finishing 3-0 to the home side.
On August 20th 2017, 23 years to the day after hosting its first match, the John Smith’s was the venue for its first-ever Premier League match, one that ended in a 1-0 victory for Huddersfield against Newcastle United.
Given that England is a heartland of rugby league, and Huddersfield is a veritable focal point of the sport within the country, this stadium has been the venue for Rugby League World Cup games in 1995, 2000 and 2013 with more internationals to come.
John Smith’s has also hosted some huge music gigs over the years. Acts of the calibre of REM, The Eagles, Bryan Adams, The Beautiful South, Bon Jovi and Elton John have packed in up to 40,000 a night at the stadium providing a great economic boost to supplement sports revenue.
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