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Ewood Park is a football stadium in Blackburnmarker, Lancashiremarker and is the home of Blackburn Rovers Football Clubmarker — one of the founder members of the Football League and Premier League. Rovers have played there since they moved from Leamington Road in the summer of 1890. The stadium opened in 1882 and is an all seater multi-sports facility with a capacity of 31,367. It comprises four sections: Darwen End, Riverside Stand (named as such because it stands practically on the banks of the River Darwen), Blackburn End, and Jack Walker Stand, which is named after Blackburn industrialist and club supporter, Jack Walker. The football pitch within the stadium measures x .

The stadium hosted three matches during the Women's Euro 2005 competition — two England matches in group play, and the final. Ewood Park has also hosted numerous England U21 internationals including England v Wales in 2004.

In November 2002, Ewood Park was the location for a Rugby league Test Match International between Great Britain and New Zealand.

Ewood Park is the third oldest home to a Premier League club. Both Anfieldmarker and Stamford Bridgemarker were constructed earlier (1884 and 1877), although their current tenants (Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC) did not start playing there until 1892 and 1905, respectively.

History

had been played on the site since at least 1881; Rovers played four matches there when it was known as Ewood Bridge and was most likely little more than a field. Their first match was against Sheffield Wednesday on April 9.

Ewood Park was opened in April 1882 and during the 1880s staged football, athletics and greyhound racing. Rovers moved back in in 1890 and played their first match against Accrington in September. The ground became a great success and was given the honour of hosting an international - England v Scotland in 1891. In 1893, Blackburn Rovers bought the ground for £2500 but came close to disaster soon after when part of a stand collapsed under the weight of a 20,000 strong crowd for the visit of Everton.

In 1903, a roof was built on the Darwen End of the ground, at a cost of £1680. The stand now held 12,000 spectators. A year later, in 1904, the Nuttall Street Stand was built, based on designs by the architect, Archibald Leitch. The stand was first used by supporters on New Year's Day 1907 for a match against Preston North End. A double tiered Riverside Stand was built in 1913, bringing the capacity of Ewood Park up to 70,886 with 7000 seats.

In 1928, a concrete wall was erected around the ground. Furthermore, the Blackburn End was terraced and the Riverside Stand re-roofed at a total cost of £1550. Ewood Park saw its largest crowd- 62,522 for the visit of Bolton Wanderers in 1929. Floodlights were installed in 1958 and were first used in a friendly against Werder Bremen. Two years later a concrete roof was erected over the Blackburn End terrace.

Prior to the most recent rebuild the Nuttall Street Stand was renewed back in 1984 after a fire in the summer months, this was two banks of executive boxes. After concerns about wooden grandstands after the inferno at Valley Parademarker, Bradford, the Riverside Stand was demolished in 1987. Chairman Bill Fox, later persuaded his friend, and fellow Rovers supporter, Jack Walker to provide the steel for a new single tiered all seater stand, opened in 1988.

After selling Walkersteel to British Steel for £330 million, Jack Walker decided to buy Blackburn Rovers and set about changing Ewood Park to one of the most advanced grounds in the country. In June 1992 the local council approved plans to develop Ewood Park into a 31,000 all-seater stadium. By February 1994, a new two-tiered Blackburn and Darwen End stands were open. The ground's transformation was complete when in August 1994, the Jack Walker Stand was opened on the site of the old Nuttall Street Stand.

Future

There are plans to rebuild the Riverside Stand in the same design as the other three, which would bring the capacity up to 40,000, however, these plans have been put on hold until supporter demand requires a capacity increase. There is a model of the planned Riverside Development in the boardroom of the stadium.

Details

The Riverside stand

Records

Record Attendance: 62,522 v Bolton Wanderers, 2 March 1929 (FA Cup 6th Round).

Average attendances

  • 2003-04: 24,376
  • 2004-05: 22,315
  • 2005-06: 21,015
  • 2006-07: 21,275
  • 2007-08: 23,369
  • 2008-09: 24,899
  • 2009-10: currently averaging 25,000


The average attendance for 2006-07 was approximately 21,275. This represented a 5,000 decline in average attendances in just four years, despite the success experienced by Blackburn Rovers in the 2005-06 Premiership. Rovers took action to reverse this by reducing ticket prices by 25% for the 2007 - 08 season, a move which was commended by everyone involved in the game. An adult Season ticket now costs £250.00 in the Fraser Eagle Stand, £300.00 in the Blackburn End, and £350.00 in the Jack Walker Stand, Adult Matchday Prices Range from £15.00 to £35.00. This was very successful as attendances have now risen and the prices were again frozen for the 2008 - 09 season. These pricing methods have reinforced Rovers' position as a club which is traditional in the way it is attempting to retain football's true fan base. For the 2009 - 10 season, the club announced further season ticket price reductions. For example a season ticket in the Walkersteel Blackburn End Stand will cost £199 for adults. A ticket for 15 games in the WEC Group Darwen End will cost £149. This represents the best value season ticket in the Premier League and is cheaper than the vast majority of Football League and Conference clubs. This enhanced Rovers' position of a fan-driven club in the heart of the community.

Ewood Park is the 11th largest facility in capacity in the Premiership, The attendance Blackburn attracts to Ewood Park is the second highest in proportion to town/city size. Blackburnmarker has a population of 105,085, so the attendance accounts for nearly a quarter of the town's population.

Stands

Jack Walker Stand

The Jack Walker Stand view from the Darwen End
Formerly the Nuttall Street Stand, this stand carries the name of Jack Walker, former club owner. It has 11,000 seats and is one of three stands that were built in the 1990s. This stand contains the home/away dressing rooms and media/conferencing facilities. Furthermore the stand is home to the Premier Suite and Jack's Kitchen which form part of the club's hospitality packages.

Walkersteel Blackburn End Stand

This stand has 8,000 seats, and constructed in the early 1990s, and as its name suggests the stand nearest Blackburn town centre. The boardroom in the Nuttall Street Stand was dismantled piece by piece and, when rebuilding was finished, reassembled in the Blackburn End. The higher tier of the stand houses the family enclosure which is designated to provide a safe and comfortable environment for under 16s and their families. The lower tier houses some of the most passionate Rovers supporters. The rear of the stand is also home to a memorial garden and a statue of Jack Walker entitled "Rovers' Greatest Supporter". Outside the stand is the Blackburn Rovers club shop "Roverstore" which was revamped in 2008. The home supporters ticket office and "Blues" cafe bar is situated in the lower reaches of the stand. From here ground tours are lead by Rovers legend, Ronnie Clayton. Furthermore, the stand is home to the "Strikers Lounge" where members of the club's junior membership scheme "Team Rovers" congregate before and after matches. The Bob Crompton suite and Executive Boxes are also located in the stand. In 2006, the club announced that the stand would be sponsored by Walkersteel.

Riverside Stand

It is the only single tiered stand in the ground, the seating spells out the word "ROVERS"- the club's nickname. The stand holds approximately 4000 spectators. At the corner of the stand is a giant TV screen showing features, teamsheets and other live games on a match day. In 2007, Blackburn Rovers announced that the stand would be sponsored by Fraser Eagle.

This agreement came to an end of the 2008-2009 season as Fraser Eagle went into administration during that season. The club announced that the stand would be refered to as The Riverside Stand a name most popular amongst supporters who used to frequent the ground in the pre-Premiership era. No matter what name was given to the stand most Rovers fans knew the stand as the Riverside.

The Stand has previously been named The Walkersteel Stand and The CIS Stand.

WEC Group Darwen End Stand

This holds 8,000 seats, and houses away supporters in a two tier stand mirroring the Blackburn End. It was part of the early 1990s stadium redevelopment, its construction seeing the demolition of the Fernhurst Mill, the site of which is now occupied by a car park. The stand houses the club's education department which attracts youngsters from the surrounding areas for football-based activities in the classroom. Moreover, the stand is home to the "Legend' Lounge" a cost effective way for fans to enjoy top-level hospitality. Blackburn Rovers' club radio station- "Radio Rovers" is housed in the stand, where they broadcast live commentary from on match days. Also, the stand includes the International Suite, again part of the club's hospitality packages. Behind the stand is the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre which provides facilities for community coaching, football leagues and soccer schools. In 2008 it was announced that the stand would be sponsored by the WEC Group, a metal fabrication and engineering company based in Darwenmarker. In the last 3 games of the 2008/09 season, the bottom part of the stand was used for home fans to give more confidence in the team to pull clear of the relegation zone.

Jack Walker Statue

Jack Walker (19 May 1929 - 17 August 2000) was an industrialist from Little Harwood in the English town of Blackburn, Lancashire. Making a fortune in the steel industry, Walker's name is popularly associated with Blackburn Rovers, the local football club in which he invested tens of millions of pounds. Rises in the fortunes of Blackburn Rovers attributed to Walker include the redevelopment of the club's stadium, Ewood Park, persuading Kenny Dalglish to come out of retirement to manage Blackburn in 1991 and twice breaking the British record for the most expensive transfer of a football player, signing Alan Shearer from Southampton for £3.3m in 1992 and Chris Sutton from Norwich for £5m in 1994. And in the 1994-95 season, Blackburn Rovers won the Premiership title.

Jack Walker was 71 when he died of Lung Cancer in 2000. A commemorative statue stands at Ewood Park, and a nearby road is named "Jack Walker Way" in his honour. Blackburn Rovers fans often refer to him as 'Uncle Jack' and 'The greatest Blackburn Rovers Supporter Ever'

Footnotes

  1. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/stats/attendance?league=eng.1&year=2006&cc=5901


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