It’s not a fancy as Facebook’s, but will undoubtedly make for nice browsing. Our first timeline lists the openings of most of the stadiums in our database in chronological order. Starting in 1855 with Bramall Lane, it runs all the way down to 2012 with Stadion Narodowy w Warszawie.

The timeline, however, requires some explanation, and also leads to some interesting observations. But let’s first start with the explanations.

First of all, tagging a fixed date on a stadium is not always as easy as it seems. For most recently built stadiums it probably is, however the distant past is more fluid. For example, at some of the stadium sites football was already being played before a stadium was built. Do you start counting from the start, or from the official inauguration of the first stand?

Also, quite a few stadiums were already in use by other sports before football came to town, which was for example the case with the two oldest grounds in our database (Bramall Lane and Stamford Bridge) – cricket and athletics being the sports in question.

Or what do you do when a complete new stadium is being built on the site of an old stadium, whether the stadium keeps its former name or not. Do you keep counting, or do you consider it to be a newly opened stadium? Is Wembley Stadium a new stadium or just a new form of the old stadium at the same place.

There are no firm rules for these issues, and much is led by how a club or stadium presents its history, which is something to bear in mind.

Now on to the observations, as some things do call the attention when looking at the timeline:

  • Bramall Lane really has no competition if it comes to being the oldest stadium at which professional football is still being played.
  • Only English and Scottish clubs still play at a stadium that was built in the 19th century.
  • The golden years for stadium construction in England ended in 1923 with the completion of Maine Road and Wembley Stadium.
  • The year 1923 was in general a grand year, with other notorious stadiums such as Estadio de Mestalla, Müngersdorfer Stadion, and the Belgian Bosuilstadion being inaugurated.
  • The heydays of stadium construction in continental Europe continued until the mid 1930s with many still classic stadiums opening in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
  • Both World Wars had obviously a massive impact on activity, with new stadium construction only picking up again by the mid 1950s.
  • New stadium construction came to a halt in the mid 1970s and only got on again in the 1990s (though many Spanish stadiums were renovated for the 1982 World Cup).
  • A new generation of football stadiums arose from the early to mid 1990s, starting with such stadiums as Parken (1992), Stade Michel d’Ornano (1993), Abe Lenstra Stadion (1994) and the Riverside Stadium (1995). The Amsterdam ArenA (1996) was the first 50,000+ stadium of a new generation.
  • Which means that the 1990 World Cup came at the worst possible time for Italy in terms of stadium legacy.
  • We are still going strong in terms of new stadium activity, with few negative effects (yet!) of the economic downturn such as happened in the late 1970s.

Undoubtedly there are many more interesting trends to find in the data, and we’ll soon dive further into the details.

Four further notes:

  • We have only included stadiums that are currently in our database. Which means that a good few stadiums are still missing, but that the list will also keep expanding.
  • To keep things clear we have only included stadiums with a current capacity of 25,000, or that have had a much larger capacity in the past or other historical significance (e.g. Pittodrie Stadium or the Bosuilstadion).
  • We have included present as well as past stadiums (that don’t exist anymore). Obviously, the data is (still) skewed toward the present stadiums.
  • Many stadiums have had different names in the past, and we have tried to use the name the stadium was longest known for, though some situations are ambiguous. In any case, if you hover over the link you will see the current name of the stadium.

If you haven’t clicked at the link above already, you can find the timeline here.