The City of Manchester Stadium was designed as part of Manchester's failed bid for the 2000 Olympic games, and was eventually built in time for the Commonwealth games of 2002 at a cost of £110m.
The stadium, which formed the centre piece of SportsCity, originally only had three stands; a fourth was added after the games when City invested £35m to convert it into a football stadium prior to the start of the 2003/04 season. As part of this process the pitch was sunk and extra seats were added, taking the capapcity to 47,726.
The ground is known colloquially as Eastlands, named after the region of East Manchester in which it resides. The name, which sounds like it should be the title of a Joy Division song, conjures up images of a dark, bleak, post industrial milieu. Which is quite apt, if you're familiar with the area.
Some City fans joking referred to it as The Blue Camp, but thankfully this was short lived as it was rubbish. United fans, showing their, um, eternal wit dubbed it the Council House as the stadium is still technically owned by Manchester City Council; City have a 250 year lease.
As the stadium was funded by Manchester tax payers United fans can't really grumble, as the vast majority of them live outside the M postcode region.
The East Stand is unofficially known as the Kippax, whilst the West Stand was renamed the Colin Bell stand in honour of City's greatest ever player. The South Stand is now, officially at least, the Key 103 stand after the club sold the naming rights (and our dignity) to a local radio station, whilst the opposite end remains the North Stand. Many fans feel that the new stadium lacks the atmosphere that Maine Road was famous for, although this is a problem faced by many English clubs when moving stadium.
The ground hosted the 2008 UEFA Cup Final between Zenit St Petersburg and Glasgow Rangers, and is the widest pitch in English football (measuring 106m x 71m). The first ever goal at the new stadium was scored by Nicolas Anelka, in a 2-1 friendly win over FC Barcelona.
A well lit and sign posted walk route from the city centre and Piccadilly Station to Sportcity has been developed along Store Street, Pollard Street, Ashton New Road and Holt Town. This route will be managed by stewards, particularly adjacent to the Stadium. The walk from Piccadilly Station is around 20 minutes and from Piccadilly Gardens around 25-30 minutes. This route is handy for people living in or close to the city centre and those using buses, trains and trams into the city centre. Watch for the blue Sportcity directional signs.
Bus: There are many bus routes from the city centre and from all directions north, west, east and south that stop at or close to Sportcity. The various bus operators offer good fare rates and the frequency to the site, particularly from the city centre and Ashton-under-Lyne is exceptional. Services direct to Sportcity: 53, 54, 185, 186, 216, 217, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236,237, X36, X37. Visit www.gmpte.com for latest information and an on-line Journey Planner or call 0161 228 7811 or 0870 608 2 608.
Rail: Manchester Piccadilly Station is the key station serving the city from all over the country and is 20 minutes walk from the City of Manchester Stadium. A smaller station, Ashburys is situated to the south on Alan Turing Way and is 15 minutes walk to the Stadium.
Parking: Official off-street parking is available within easy walking distance of the Stadium. Parking on the day of a game is available where shown, at £5 per car. This is available on a first come first served basis on the day. A residents parking scheme is in place, so make sure you don't park on streets in the area or you will be fined or your car clamped or removed.