Villa Park Stadium
Villa Park is a football stadium in the district of Aston, in Birmingham, England. It has been the home of Aston Villa Football Club since 1897.
It is a Uefa Elite stadium and it has hosted 16 England internationals at senior level. The first international was in 1899, with the most recent being in 2005. It was the first English ground to stage international football in three different centuries.
Villa previously played at Aston Park from 1874 to 1876 and Perry Barr from 1876 to 1897. Villa Park is the most used stadium in FA Cup semifinal history, having hosted 55 semifinals. The stadium currently comprises four stands; Holte End, Trinity Road Stand, North Stand and the Doug Ellis Stand. The club has initial planning permission to extend the North Stand. This will involve the redevelopment of the entire North Stand, increasing the capacity of Villa Park from 42 788 to approximately 50 000.
Villa Park opened in 1897 at the cost of £16 400. It was officially called the Aston Lower Grounds and it was situated in the former grounds of a Jacobean stately home, Aston Hall.
The site had been used in the past as a Victorian amusement park, and also as a fishpond and kitchen garden belonging to the owner of Aston Hall, Sir Thomas Holte (the origin of the naming of the stand, the Holte End). The pitch was initially surrounded by a 7.3m-wide concrete cycle track and a cinder running track.
When first built, the stadium could house 40 000 spectators, most of whom would stand in the open. The first match at the ground, a friendly against Blackburn Rovers, took place on April 17, 1897, one week after Aston Villa had completed the League and FA Cup 'Double'.
The running track was removed in 1914 when work started on the Trinity Road Stand and the ground was squared off. When it was completed in 1922, the Trinity Road Stand was considered to be one of the grandest in Britain, complete with stained glass windows, Italian mosaics and a sweeping staircase.
Many athletics and cycle events were staged at the stadium prior to the First World War. The stadium has hosted several rock concerts, including Bruce Springsteen on June 21, 1988, with his Tunnel of Love (album) Tour. On July 23, 1983, Duran Duran's charity concert was held at Villa Park, raising money for MENCAP, which also featured Robert Palmer (singer). In the summer of 1984 Villa Park played host to the American evangelist Billy Graham.
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