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Kenilworth Road Stadium (almost always known simply as Kenilworth Road) is a football stadium in Lutonmarker, Bedfordshire, Englandmarker. It has been home to Luton Town Football Club since 1905, when financial complications forced the club to leave its previous location at Dunstable Road. The ground has also hosted women's and youth international matches, as well as a number of local competitions.

The 10,226 all-seater stadium is situated in Bury Parkmarker, one mile west of the centre of Luton. It is named after the road which runs along one end of it, but the official address is 1 Maple Road. Kenilworth Road hosted football in the Southern League until 1920, and in the Football League until 2009, when Luton were relegated to the Conference National.

The ground is known for the artificial playing surface which was present from 1985 to 1991, as well as the unusual entrance to the Oak Road End. Floodlights were fitted in 1953, and the ground became all-seated in 1986. The record attendance of 30,069 was set in 1959, in an FA Cup sixth round replay against Blackpool.


Kenilworth Road is opened in 1905

Luton Town moved to Kenilworth Road in 1905, leaving their previous home at Dunstable Road after their landlord sold the site for housing at short notice. The club's directors quickly procured a new site, and the club's first match at the new ground came on 4 September 1905 – a 0–0 draw against Plymouth Argyle. Originally known as Ivy Road, the new ground brought success with it – in their last season at Dunstable Road, Luton had finished second from bottom, but in the first at Kenilworth Road, Luton finished fourth in the Southern League.

The ground has undergone several major changes since its original construction in 1905. The original Main Stand, boasting a press loft and a balcony above the roof, burnt down in a fire in 1921, and was replaced by the current stand before the 1922–23 campaign. The new Main Stand was split into two – the upper tier contained wooden seats, so there was a ban on smoking in the stand – the lower tier, which became known as the Enclosure, was terracing.

When attendances were first counted, in 1932–33, Luton Town's average home attendance was taken at 5,868. Kenilworth Road's capacity of the time was 25,000, so it was not deemed necessary to improve the ground. However, only three years later, on 25 April 1936, a match against Coventry City attracted 23,142 spectators – at that time a club record. The decision was taken to renovate the stadium, already in disrepair, and work began at the end of the following season. The Kenilworth End terrace was extended, the Oak Road End received a roof and major work was done on the Main Stand. Following these steps, the ground was more in line with those of rival clubs, the capacity standing at 30,000.

The first ten years following Kenilworth Road's renovation saw average attendances of between 15,000 and 18,000; a huge improvement on what the club had previously been able to attract. Floodlights were installed at the ground before the 1953–54 season, and used for the first time in a friendly against Turkishmarker side Fenerbahçemarker on 7 October 1953. The Oak Road terrace was extended in 1955, and promotion to the First Division for 1955–56 saw the average attendance climb as high as 21,454.

Renovation of Kenilworth Road was neglected for the couple decades – financial difficulties and the club's ambitions to build a new ground meant that regeneration was unaffordable, and would also prove unnecessary should relocation occur. However, following the rejection of several potential sites for a new ground, the club finally turned their attentions back to the maintenance of Kenilworth Road. The first real modernisation of the ground came in 1973, with the first addition of seats at the stadium since the construction of the new Main Stand in 1922. The Bobbers Stand became all-seated, while the rest of the ground remained terracing. The new-look stand could only hold 1,539 seats, and as a result the capacity of the ground dropped to 22,601.

A £1 million refubishment got under way in 1985 with the introduction of artificial turf, as well as the conversion of the ground to all-seater, which began a year later in 1986. The Oak Road End was filled with seats, while the Bobbers Stand had its seats ripped out to be replaced with executive boxes. The Main Stand's enclosure received seats, and work also began on converting the Kenilworth Stand, which had a roof added at this time. The stand would also receive seats in stages over the coming years.

The 1990–91 season saw away fans return, and the David Preece Stand was erected a year later, simply called the New Stand on construction. The final improvements to the ground came in 2005, when the conversion of the Kenilworth Stand was finally completed to bring the capacity to its present 10,226.

Artificial pitch

In 1985, following the lead of Queen Park Rangers' experiment at Loftus Roadmarker four years earlier, the grass pitch was dug up and replaced with an artificial playing surface. The surface, called Sporturf Professional, was manufactured by En-Tout-Cas, and cost the club £350,000. The first match on the new pitch was a 1–1 draw with Nottingham Forest. The new surface became exceedingly unpopular – derided as "the plastic pitch", other clubs were starting to protest about Luton's artificial pitch by 1989. A meeting was held with other major clubs, mediated by a Football League Commission. The League Commission concluded that the pitch had suffered too much wear and tear from excessive use, and Luton installed a new surface during the summer of 1989, at the cost of £60,000. This new artificial pitch was dug up during the summer of 1991, as the surfaces were banned from English football.

Away fan ban

On 13 March 1985, Millwall visited Kenilworth Road for an FA Cup sixth round match. After only 14 minutes the match was halted as the visiting fans began to riot. The referee took both teams off for 25 minutes, before bringing them back on to complete the match. Following the final whistle, and a 1–0 victory for Luton, another pitch invasion and subsequent riot by away supporters caused noticeable damage to the ground and the surrounding area. Many of those arrested turned out to be supporters of teams other than Millwall. The club's chairman, David Evans, reacted by imposing a ban on all away supporters from Kenilworth Road from the start of 1986–87, as well as introducing a scheme that would require even home supporters to carry membership cards to be admitted to matches. The Football League insisted that Luton relax the ban for League Cup matches, but when Evans refused to allow Cardiff City fans to visit Kenilworth Road for their second round tie, the club were thrown out of the competition. The ban continued for four seasons, before Luton Town repealed the ban for 1990–91.


The ground was first constructed in 1905, soon before the club moved in. The club rented the ground until 1933, when newly appointed chairman Charles Jeyes organised the purchase of the stadium. The club retained ownership of the ground until February 1989, when the freehold was sold to Luton Borough Council for £3.25 million. The club was granted a seven year lease at peppercorn rent for its continued use. This arrangement has been extended several times, and as of 2009 is due to end in 2018.

Structure and facilities

The ground is made up of five stands – opposite the eponymous Kenilworth Stand is the Oak Road End, and to the left is the Main Stand, which is flanked to its right by the David Preece Stand. Opposite them stand a row of executive boxes. The Main Stand covers about two thirds of the length of the pitch, though the attached enclosure is longer, covering the whole distance. The Main Stand, which seats 4,277 fans, also contains the dressing rooms, club offices and television gantry, as well as a number of supporting pillars, a car park and the Nick Owen and Eric Morecambe suites. To the Main Stand's right, in the corner above the end of the Enclosure and next to the Kenilworth Stand, is the David Preece Stand, a family area which seats 711 spectators. The Preece Stand acquired its present name in 2008, a year after the former player's death.

Opposite the Main and Preece Stands are 25 executive boxes, which have an attached net to catch balls directed over them and a total capacity of 209. The Bobbers Stand stood here until 1986, when the seats were removed from the stand and replaced with the boxes.

To the right of the Main Stand is the 3,229-seater Kenilworth Stand, which backs onto Kenilworth Road. The Club Shop is behind this stand, which was once an open terrace but is now a roofed all-seater stand. In the corner between the Kenilworth Stand and the boxes is the stadium clock.

Opposite the Kenilworth Stand is the Oak Road End, which bears an electronic scoreboard on its roof and can seat a maximum of 1,800 fans. The Oak Road End was once a home section but is now away fans only. The Oak Road End has a highly unusual entrance, requiring spectators to go through an entrance built into the row of houses and up stairs to the stand.


The unusual entrance to the Oak Road End
Luton Town have been looking for a new ground since 1955, when club chairman Percy Mitchell spoke of building a stadium "to hold 35,000 in comfort ... [and] get a lot of support which goes to London at the moment". However, due to unstable finances and an inability to find a site, no ground was built. A proposed move to Milton Keynesmarker in the 1980s led to supporters protesting in Lutonmarker, and the matter was therefore dropped. The spectre of relocation up the M1 motorway to the new town reappeared several times over the years, but the opportunity to switch to Milton Keynes was never exploited. Such a move is now very unlikely following the creation of Milton Keynes Dons.

The club itself has only managed to get as far as a planning application for a new ground once, when chairman David Kohler's Kohlerdome was proposed in 1995. The Kohlerdome was envisioned by Kohler as a 20,000 all-seater indoor arena with a retractable roof and pitch, hosting 85 capacity events each year. Kohler's plans, though ambitious, were perhaps not very realistic – the plans were turned down by the Secretary of State in 1998, with the reason given that the ground was not feasible unless the M1 motorway was widened. Kohler put the club on the market on the plan's rejection, and after a period under Cliff Bassett, the club came under the control of Mike Watson-Challis in 2000. Watson-Challis bought 55 acres of land by Junction 10 of the M1 in 2001, intending to move the club there, but once again, nothing came of the scheme. Most recently, in 2007, Jayten Stadium Limited were hoping to relocate the club to a new purpose built stadium at Junction 12, near Harlingtonmarker and Toddingtonmarker. This plan was very unpopular with both Luton Town supporters and the local authorities, but a planning application was still submitted by former chairman Bassett on the club's behalf. The application was withdrawn by the club almost immediately after the takeover by Nick Owen's Luton Town Football Club 2020 consortium in 2008.

, the club is undertaking an independent feasibility study to determine a viable location to move to. Sites mooted include a ground built as part of a new housing development to the west of Lutonmarker and a site by the proposed Junction 11A of the M1, which is the preferred site of the local authorities. The club has not ruled out staying at a redeveloped Kenilworth Road.

Other uses

Kenilworth Road has been used occasionally by the England women's team. The inaugural UEFA Women's Championship in 1984 saw Kenilworth Road play host to the second leg of the Final against Sweden, won by Sweden on penalties. The most recent use of the stadium by the women's team was a 4–2 victory over Spain on 22 March 2001. Kenilworth Road has been used by Englandmarker's under-17 team since the 1970s, most recently in a 3–0 win over their Italianmarker counterparts in the 2007 FA International Tournament Final.

The ground is home to the Hatters Study Support Centre, which provides local school pupils with ICT equipment, football training and lessons in numeracy and literacy. Kenilworth Road also hosts a number of local tournaments and events, including an annual youth competition organised by London Luton Airportmarker.


The highest attendance record at this stadium was 30,069 against Blackpool in the FA Cup on 4 March 1959. The highest attendance in the Football League was 27,911 against Wolverhampton Wanderers in Division One on 5 November 1955.

The highest seasonal average for Luton at Kenilworth Road has been 21,455 in the 1955–56 season. Luton's lowest seasonal average has been 5,527 in 1998–99. The most recent season in which the average attendance was more than 10,000 was in the 1990–91 season, when the seasonal average was 10,313.


The ground is located about half a mile away from Luton railway stationmarker, which lies on the Midland Main Line between Londonmarker's St Pancras railway stationmarker and Leedsmarker's City stationmarker. Many of the roads near the ground are for residential permit holders only, meaning car parking at the ground is notoriously difficult. The number 31 bus, which is operated by Arriva and runs every ten minutes from outside the train station, stops at the junction of Oak Road and Dunstable Road. The planned Luton to Dunstable Busway between London Luton Airportmarker and Houghton Regismarker, which as of 2009 is due to begin development in 2010 and become operational in 2011, will include a terminal behind the Main Stand on Clifton Road.




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