The Stadium of Light is the home of Sunderland Football Club and is located in the North East of England. It’s an all-seater stadium with space for 49,000 spectators.
The Stadium of Light was originally opened in 1997 and has the eighth-largest capacity of any English football ground. After the re-development of Sunderland’s former ground “Roker Park” proved impossible, as it was located with terraced housing on all sides, the club moved into the Stadium of Light in 1997. The stadium has had one major re-development since it originally opened, with the capacity rising from 42,000 to 49,000 with the North Stand being extended in the year 2000.
According to Sir Bob Murray then chairman of Sunderland F.C. the name Stadium of Light “was chosen for two main reasons, namely as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future. The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine.”
First impressions of the stadium are rather good, it has a nice construction for a “modern” stadium. We really love how the club have tried to incorporate historic elements such as an old miners wheel, old gates, a statue of Bob Stokoe and a Davy lamp monument, which stands at the entrance to reflect the coal mining industry of the region.
The stadium is in the shape of a “square bowl”, and is separated into the West Stand, North Stand, East Stand and the South Stand. The West Stand includes the Premier Concourse which is the name of the upper tier, and a number of executive boxes. The North Stand also includes an upper tier, called the “Strongbow Upper”, which contained the exterior seating for the Black Cats Bar. A nice feature is the perimeter walls of the stadium, which incorporate a “Wall of Fame” feature, where names can be engraved into the bricks of the walls, perfect for supporters of the club.
Away fans are housed in the Upper Tier of the “North Stand” at one end of the stadium, where around 3,000 fans can be situated for league games. For cup games up to 9,000 visiting supporters can be accommodated in this tier, if required. The only point we would make is, if you are sitting towards the back of the tier, you can see the pitch but may feel slightly “cut off” from the action. As you would expect there’s food available on the concourse, included is Fish and Chips (£5.50), Various Pies (£3.50) including the Chicken Balti Pie, Cornish Pasties (£3) and Jumbo Sausage Rolls (£3). (Correct at the time of publication)
If you’ve never travelled to the Stadium of Light before, you will be excited to see that Sunderland have opened a “Fan Zone”, which is located outside the South East part of the stadium. The area has entertainment in the form of live bands, large screens etc, plus food and drink outlets. If you’re looking for more traditional food outlets and bars, then Sunderland City Centre is about a ten minute walk from the ground.
Speaking of Entertainment, the Stadium of Light has been a fixture for concerts over the last ten years or so. It has a capacity for around 60,000 fans, and has hosted world famous artists such as Oasis, Take That, Pink, Kings of Leon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Rihanna, One Direction, Foo Fighters and Beyoncé.
The Stadium of Light is pretty easy to get too, if you’re travelling by car then exit the A1 Motorway at “Junction 62”, the Durham/Sunderland exit and take the A690 towards Sunderland. After around 8 or so miles, you will reach a roundabout, at which turn left onto the A19, signposted for the Tyne Tunnel. Stay in the left hand lane and take the second slip road towards Sunderland (signposted Stadium Of Light, A1231 Sunderland).
This takes you onto a bridge crossing over the River Wear. Turn right onto the A1231 following the signs for Sunderland. Go straight over four roundabouts into Sunderland. After this go through two sets of traffic lights (keeping in the left hand lane at the second set, going straight on towards Roker rather than the city centre) and you will see the Stadium car park on your right.
If you don’t want to use the official stadium car park, you can park in the city centre and walk to the ground, which is around a 10 minute walk away. The traffic for a couple of miles around the ground can be pretty congested at times near to a game, so allow plenty of time for your journey.
There is also a “Park and Ride” scheme in operation on matchdays, free for both home and away supporters. This is situated at Sunderland Enterprise Park, which is signposted just off the A1231. Generally Buses run every five minutes or so, for 90 minutes before kick off and continue after the game. If you’re getting to Sunderland by train, then you will arrive at Sunderland Railway Station, which is located in the city centre and is walkable from the Stadium of Light (around 15 minutes).