Villa Park is one of the most famous grounds in English football. It’s located in the Aston area of Birmingham, and a seating capacity of 42,682. It has been the home of Aston Villa Football Club since 1897. In 1897, Aston Villa moved into the the “Aston Lower Grounds”, which was a sports ground in a Victorian amusement park in the former grounds of Aston Hall, a Jacobean stately home.
The stadium has gone through various stages of renovation and development, resulting in the current stand configuration of the Holte End, Trinity Road Stand, North Stand and the Doug Ellis Stand. These four stands are the Holte End to the South, the Trinity Road Stand to the West, the Doug Ellis Stand opposite the Trinity Road Stand, and the North Stand behind the northern goal.
All of the stands are composed of two tiers except the Trinity Road Stand, which has three. As each re-development happened at different times, this means each stand has its own individuality and characteristics. At this current moment in time, the club has an “initial planning permission” to redevelop the North Stand, which will increase the capacity of Villa Park from 42,682 to approximately 50,000. However, no date has been set on whether this will or won’t be completed.
The most famous stand is “The Holte End”, which is a large two-tiered stand at the south end of the stadium. It was originally a large terraced banking providing accommodation for more than 20,000 spectators, however this was reconfigured around 1994, and is now two tiers with no executive boxes. The facade of the Holte End is one of the most famous in football. It has two large staircases, pediments, Dutch gables and a mosaic, which was introduced in the 2007 season in the style of the old Trinity Road Stand. The overall design gives a nod to the traditions of the club and was itself inspired by Aston Hall.
The oldest stand at Villa Park is the North Stand, formerly known as “the Witton End”, which was completed in 1977. It is a two-tiered stand, with a double row of 39 executive boxes running between the two tiers. Upper tier seats are claret with “AV” written in blue. On one side of the pitch is the Doug Ellis Stand, which is also two-tiered and is roughly the same height as the North Stand and the Holte End. This stand was opened prior to the 1996 European Championships, for which Villa Park was a host venue.
The Doug Ellis Stand houses the television gantry, executive boxes and away fans in northern corner end. Around 3,000 away fans can be accommodated in this area, and are split between both the upper and lower tiers of the stand. Generally if there’s only a “small away following” then just the upper tier is allocated.
The concourse at the back of the upper tier can be tight and easily becomes crowded at half-time, whereas there is more space behind the lower section. There are a selection of Pies and Pasties (£3.30), Hot Dogs (£2.60) and then additionally in the lower tier; Cheeseburgers (£3.50), Fish and Chips (£6.50) and Chips (£2.80). (Prices correct at the time of publication)
Villa Park is located in a typical urban area. This means that there are a few pubs around as well as some easy eating options such as cafe’s, although if you have more time on your hands, then Birmingham’s city centre might be a better option with a better selection of drinking and eating establishments.
Opposite the Doug Ellis Stand is the main Trinity Road Stand, which was built in 2000. It is the most recently completed stand at Villa Park and houses the dressing rooms, club offices and director’s boxes. The stand is composed of three tiers with a row of executive boxes between the second and third tiers.
For visiting fans you should keep an eye out for the unusual structure that is situated between the Trinity Road and Holte End Stands. This is a pavilion type structure that was built at the same time as the Trinity Road stand. This three tiered building which is used for corporate hospitality. On the other side of the Holte End is another similar looking structure that is used for police control.
Aside from sporting uses, Villa Park has been a venue for musicians from across the world, as well as evangelical preachers. The stadium has hosted several rock concerts, including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, Belinda Carlisle, Rod Stewart and Robert Palmer. The American evangelist Billy Graham attracted around 250,000 people to a series of prayer meetings held at Villa Park over the summer of 1984.
Villa Park is within a short distance of two mainline railway stations. Witton railway station is approximately 500 metres from Villa Park, and Aston railway station is approximately 1 mile away. Villa Park can also be seen from the M6, if you are coming from the North side of Birmingham. It’s recommended to leave the M6 at Junction 6 and take the slip road sign posted Birmingham (NE). At the next roundabout below the motorway, turn right (the fourth exit), towards City Centre/Aston, and Villa Park is well signposted from here. Alternatively, the stadium is served by bus 7 and 11. Bus 7 leaves from Upper Bull Street in the city centre.