As part of my world stadiums tour, the most recent visit was to the Wales Millennium Stadium (now renamed the Principality Stadium). This is an extremely unique and special stadium when you consider the fact that the stadium is the only one of its kind in Europe, which is built in the middle of a city centre. Every other major sports stadium in Europe is on the outskirts or outside the city it is in. With the Millennium Stadium, it is placed smack bang in the middle of the city centre, placed between the train station and the castle. From Cardiff Central train station it is literally a one minute walk to the stadium!
The stadium was built and finished in 1999 and is now home to the Welsh national rugby team. The Welsh football (soccer) team do not use this stadium and play their home games at the Cardiff City ground, because it is believed that not enough fans would fill and use the stadium for football games, given the stadiums capacity of just under 75,000 fans.
The stadium tour itself is fascinating, one example being with the definite differences in design between the home and away changing rooms. The home changing rooms have been designed to create a den like atmosphere, so that players can psyche themselves up. The away changing rooms, on the other hand, are quite different in design and somewhat more basic in style, designed to give the away team less comfort.
The stadium hosts a number of different events annually and, on the day we visited, the stadium was set up ready for the annual British Speedway Grand Prix. The stadium also hosts the Wales rugby 6 nations home games, concerts, the Monster Jam big truck series.
The stadium itself had to be turned around to fit in between the existing buildings, making the job of making this size-able stadium very costly and a complex project. The final cost was over GBP £120 million, with around 1/3rd of that cost private funding. It was in September 2015 that the name change came about to the Principality Stadium. Personally, despite all of the money this will bring into the stadium, I wonder how much money is lost in not leaving the name as the Wales Millennium Stadium, given how strong that is as a brand name.
Do the tour and you will have a chance to sit in the same seats as the managers and players do for the press conferences. This normally hectic and crowded room after a match, is a part of the guided tour and worth seeing and a great photo opportunity.
The tour overall took approximately one hour and the tour guide was clearly very knowledgeable and very informative. Whatever your mobility, this is a relatively easy tour to do and I would certainly recommend it!
(Havannah Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5SD) – This hotel is located in the beautiful Cardiff Bay area and a 15 minute walk to the city centre or a 5 minute cab ride. With lots of bars and restaurants located in the bay, this is a popular place to stay with many sport fans visiting Cardiff. The hotel itself is a 5 star hotel with outstanding facilities also it has a nice view overlooking the bay. (BOOK HERE TO STAY!)
(Meridian Gate, Bute Terrace, Cardiff) – If you want to be able to walk directly between the Millennium Principality Stadium and your hotel, the Radisson is a very good option and with a very reasonable price normally. This 4 star option is right in the heart of the city centre and only a few minutes walk from the central train station. (BOOK HERE TO STAY!)
(1 Coldstream Terrace, Cardiff, CF11 6LJ) – This B&B is just around the corner from the stadium i.e. no more than a leisurely 5 minute walk. The train station, shopping areas, castle and stadium are all within easy walking distance. This is a great low budget option, although on match days do book early for availability! (BOOK HERE TO STAY!)
Some extra resources which you might find very useful on your visit to Cardiff, Wales.