The Emirates Stadium is located on Ashburton Grove, a street in the North-London borough of Islington. Since the beginning of the 2006/07-season, Arsenal FC play their home games in the Emirates Stadium. The stadium has a capacity of 60.355, which makes the Emirates the third largest stadium in England, behind Wembley Stadium and Old Trafford.
Renamed to ‘Emirates Stadium’
The stadium would originally be named ‘Ashburton Grove’ before a naming rights deal with the airline Emirates was signed in October 2004. Some fans will still call the stadium ‘Ashburton Grove’. The stadium will be named ‘Emirates Stadium’ for at least 15 years. This was agreed in a £100m sponsorship deal Arsenal have signed with Emirates. This deal also includes an 8-year shirt sponsorship deal.
Decision to build a new stadium
Initially, Arsenal were planning to expand their previous homeground Highbury in 1997 but they were denied in doing so by the Islington Council. After that, Arsenal have weighed up several options (amongst those also was the possibility to buy Wembley Stadium), but then came up with a plan to buy a waste disposal estate in Ashburton Grove. One year later, that same Islington Council approved Arsenal’s idea to build a new stadium there. It was also an ideal option as it was really close to Highbury. At a total cost of an estimated £390m, the stadium was completed in 2006.
The opening game
The stadium’s first game was on the 22nd of July 2006, hosting the Dennis Bergkamp testimonial match between Arsenal and Ajax Amsterdam. The game saw Arsenal win 2-1 and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the first goal in the Emirates Stadium for Ajax. The first Arsenal goal in the Emirates Stadium was scored by Thierry Henry.
The first competitive game
Arsenal’s first competitive match at the stadium was an FA Premier League game against Aston Villa on 19 August 2006, which ended 1-1. Aston Villa player Olof Mellberg scored the first goal of the game and thus the first Premiership goal at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal had to wait until September 23, 2006 for their first Premiership win at the stadium, defeating Sheffield United 3-0.
More than just a football stadium
Besides Arsenal playing their home games at the Emirates Stadium, it is also known as a host to international fixtures and music concerts. For example, the Brazilian national team have also played at the Emirates, but the venue has also hosted a huge concert by Coldplay.