Principality Stadium has contributed £2.75bn in economic output during its 20 year period of operation to date – a newly published independent report carried out by Econactive on behalf of the Welsh Rugby Union (‘WRU’) reveals.

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On average the Stadium has supported around £135m of output and 2,500 FTE jobs in Cardiff and Wales in each year since it hosted its first event on 26th June 1999, amounting to 50,275 person years of employment in total and £1.32bn of gross value added.

The third in a series of independent reports, spanning two decades and published on the day of the Stadium’s 20th Anniversary, also estimates visitor spending has provided £1.95bn for the local economy, whilst producing a £55m increase on the average estimated yearly impact in the last financial year alone.

Jobs supported across the region were also up by over 1,000 on the 20 year average and the report also points out that Principality Stadium supports around one in ten tourism jobs.

“Twenty years ago today, when Wales played in front of a part capacity crowd to pull off the first win over South Africa in the history of our game, we all knew we had a very special future ahead of us at our brand new and already iconic national ground,” said WRU chairman Gareth Davies, who also chairs the Stadium’s Board.

“Our unique city centre location means a smaller footprint than most comparable stadia around the globe, so spectators are always in close proximity to the pitch and benefit from optimum sight lines wherever they are seated.

“This is one of the reasons we are ranked so highly in customer satisfaction terms by supporters who attend our events.

“We also have a fully retractable roof and adaptable playing surface and this versatility has attracted promoters and event owners from across the international music and sports industries.

“We are an iconic, chameleon-like venue whose only limitation is the imagination of our dedicated staff or of those managing visiting acts and events.

“Today’s report highlights the extensive and impressive positive impact we have had on both the city and the nation over the last 20 years, an impact we are all extremely proud of.”

The first economic report of the series, published in 2007, estimated the annual contribution of the Stadium to be £105m a year, in 2013 that figure was said to have risen to £130m and the latest estimate is that £135m contribution is made on an annual basis.

The period June 2017 to June 2018 is described as a ‘particularly good year’, generating £125m in regional spending away from the Stadium alone, and reaching 1.23m ticket sales across a range of events.

Key recommendations made for the future of the Stadium by the report include upgrading existing technology to enhance fan experience, a heritage centre on site, access to a top end hotel – which is a project already put in place by the WRU – and improving and supporting the surrounding travel infrastructure, particularly rail.

“The Stadium has become a reliable and important generator of both economic impact and visitation to Cardiff and Wales,” said Dr Calvin Jones of Econactive.

“It remains an important and consistent economic presence in the Cardiff capital city region, is a critical element of the city’s visitor offer and positively impacts upon the city’s wider profile.

“Spectators of sports as varied as club and international football and rugby, speedway, boxing and rallying have come to the city as have the fans of many popular music acts.

“Students have enjoyed Varsity matches that will stay with them for life and, likewise school children will have played in schools’ finals with the same effect.

“The Stadium has showcased Wales, and hosted national celebrations, at key times in both sport and culture.

“Moreover, the role of the Stadium as a driver of Welsh exports – or more properly as an attractor of money into Wales – should not be under-estimated.

“Most stadia lever a largely local audience, whether club or international focussed, with away/overseas audiences very rarely in the majority, even at global events such as the Summer Olympics.

“Conversely in the Cardiff case both this and previous reports have found that the Stadium consistently drives spectator spending that is largely non-Welsh in origin, adding real, net-additional income.

“It is an important part of Wales’ cultural identity and of the Cardiff visitor economy and has a widening market reach, which has helped it to build an operational model that is resilient to circumstance.

”But it will need the financial headroom to invest and respond to its competitive market in the future, especially as technology becomes more important to event experience.

“It is also recommended that further support be given to the Stadium in its ability to drive the Welsh Economy with consideration given to improving the supporting and surrounding infrastructure.”

In the six years since the last economic impact report was completed in 2013, the Stadium has welcomed 4.14m visitors to its events, with over 60% of those being international rugby fans and around 20% (720,000) at pop and rock concerts.

The report found that the Stadium remains Wales’ top single site attraction by a significant margin and, despite retaining only around 15% of the revenue it brings to Cardiff itself, remains a long term profitable prospect.

Principality Stadium consistently generates hundreds of millions in expenditure and economic impact, attracts millions of visitors and remains a key location for sports events and concerts of international renown, with an undisputed reputation to stage the world’s biggest events.

“There is no doubt that 2017/18 was huge year for us at Principality Stadium, with Ed Sheeran playing an unprecedented four nights of sold-out concerts helping us along to a record year in terms of both turnover and visitor numbers, which reached a high of 1.23 million,” said WRU Group chief executive Martyn Phillips, who has also welcomed the Spice Girls, Take That and Pink to Cardiff in the last few weeks.

“But this latest economic impact report is most revealing in showing the sustained and regular contribution the Stadium makes to Cardiff and the surrounding region.

“From FA Cup Finals to World Championship boxing, the London 2012 Olympics, the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final, three Rugby World Cup tournaments and all of the highest profile music acts on the world circuit, Principality Stadium has consistently delivered for Wales.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, added: “It’s great to see the positive impact Principality Stadium is having on the Cardiff and wider Welsh economy.

“We are incredibly proud to sponsor a stadium that continues to offer world-class sporting and non-sporting events that benefit Members of our building society and also the communities we serve across Wales and the borders.

“It is more than a stadium – it is a home where amazing memories are created and it is something which the people of Wales cherish.”

John Rose, Director of The National Lottery Community Fund said: “This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the National Lottery and the Principality Stadium is a great example of how money raised from National Lottery players has brought wonderful benefits to Wales. We are proud of the economic and social benefits that our funding has brought to Welsh society.”

Cardiff Council Leader, Huw Thomas said: “It’s quite remarkable to think the Stadium has been in operation for 20 years now and what a tremendous 20 years that has proven to be.

“There can be little doubt now that the decision to build the Stadium in the heart of the city was the right one to take and I’m proud of the role that Cardiff Council played in enabling that to happen. The economic impact bears that out, but so too does the unforgettable moments and memories the Stadium has given to residents and visitors to Cardiff over the years.

“Like everyone else in Wales I am immensely proud of our Stadium and I look forward to the next 20 years, which I’m sure will produce even more moments of magic to thrill the nation.”

Eluned Morgan, Wales’ International Relations Minister said:

“The report is a reflection of our established reputation as an outstanding events destination, and Principality Stadium is not only at the centre of our fabulous capital City, but an important partner in attracting visitors and boosting the economy of our country.

“I will never forget the opening match of the Rugby World Cup – one of the major events at the Stadium, and a moment of huge pride for the nation. The Stadium has gone on to be one of the jewels in the crown of our visitor experience.

“Principality Stadium has an impressive record of hosting major events, which include Rugby World Cup 2015 matches and the UEFA Champions League Final in 2017, and performances by many of the world’s leading artists. Many of the world’s leading action sports athletes have competed and experienced the unique atmosphere that millions of visitors to Principality Stadium provide and next year we look forward to welcoming The Nitro World Games – May 23th and 24th.”

A copy of the full report is available here:



When Isambard Kingdom Brunel diverted the River Taff in order to drain the bog which had sat on the site of Cardiff Central train station, little did he know that he had taken the first step on the road of creating the iconic building, currently known as Principality Stadium, which is the national stadium of Wales.

Although the name Cardiff Arms Park would become synonymous with rugby the world over, the first sportsmen to venture onto this reclaimed land were in fact cricketers, in 1848 – almost 30 years before a rugby ball was ever kicked there.

The National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park was to remain at the heart of Welsh sport for almost 150 years, until making way for the Millennium Stadium in 1999 and being renamed Principality Stadium in 2016 But even today the Principality Stadium’s North Stand is a relic of the Arms Park’s final incarnation as the National Stadium.

Since opening in June 1999, the Millennium Stadium has welcomed, on average, over 1.3 million visitors per year.

Sporting the first fully-retractable roof in the UK, the venue is at the leading edge as a multi-purpose, multi-faceted event venue. The Millennium Stadium boasts a UEFA 5-Star rating and has hosted matches from three Rugby World Cups including the Final in 1999, witnessed three Wales Grand Slam successes in the Six Nations, staged six showpiece FA Cup Finals plus hosted the major artists of the music business with a plethora of major concerts and motorsports events on its CV.

The installation of a partition drape system in July 2005 now means that the bowl of the Millennium Stadium can be used for multiple concert mode configurations and for staging exhibitions. A new Desso pitch installed in the summer of 2015 has helped the stadium retain its reputation of being one of most modern stadia in the world.

On January 22nd 2006 the ground was officially renamed Principality Stadium as part of a 10-year naming rights deal with Principality Building Society, which has also seen the long standing Welsh financial institution invest in the grass roots game.


Background to the Millennium Stadium Project:

As early as 1994 a group redevelopment committee was set up to look at redeveloping the Wales National Stadium and linking the redevelopment to the regeneration of West Cardiff. In 1995, the Welsh Rugby Union won the right to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup against severe competition from rival bids from the Southern Hemisphere. A review of the National Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park (designed in 1962) showed that it had long since been overtaken; with Twickenham and Murrayfield having developed stadia with capacities of 75,000 and 67,000 respectively and France about to build the Stade de France with a capacity of over 80,000.

Capacity in the old National Stadium was 53,000 (including 11,000 standing in the East Terrace). New safety regulations would mean that the capacity would be further reduced by ‘all-seater’ arrangements. There were no spectator facilities in the old Stadium other than toilets. It was decided that the new Stadium should have a roof to accommodate a requirement for multi-usage and also a natural grass pitch for rugby. Therefore a retractable roof was incorporated into the design brief. The only other retractable roof in Europe at the time was at the Amsterdam Arena (with a capacity of 50,000); the home of Ajax Football Club.



Event History:


The Millennium

– With construction work still to be done, a three-quarters complete Millennium Stadium hosts its very first match on 26th June 1999 and Wales record their first-ever win over South Africa. Mark Taylor scores the opening try at the new venue

– After several warm-up matches, the Millennium Stadium hosts the opening ceremony of Rugby World Cup 1999, plus pool matches, a quarter-final, the third-fourth place play-off, closing ceremony and Final

– The retractable roof is shown off in all its glory by sliding open during the opening ceremony of the World Cup

– The new venue becomes a giant concert arena for a New Year’s Eve Millennium extravaganza as the Manic Street Preachers see in revelers with a ‘Manic Millennium’ under the Stadium’s now infamous sliding roof

– France defeat Wales in the opening Six Nations match to be played at the venue in February 2000

– The Millennium Stadium hosts its first FAW International Football matches in the summer of 2000, Jari Litmanen of Finland scores the first goal at the venue, with Ryan Giggs providing the first Welsh goal in a 2-1 friendly defeat for Wales

– The Motor Show in July 2000 sees the Millennium Stadium host its first exhibition on the bowl’s surface

– The World Cup returns to the Millennium Stadium in November 2000 only this time of the Rugby League variety as Wales host New Zealand in a pool match

– The Football League Cup Final, LDV Vans Trophy, FA Cup Final and FA Community Shield come to the Stadium in 2001; Liverpool beat Birmingham on penalties in February in the Worthington Cup Final, the first of the English football showpiece matches to be staged

– The FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool follows in May as the first FA Cup Final to be played in Cardiff, and confirming its status as a World Class venue the Stadium achieves a 5 Star UEFA rating, the Football League play-offs follow for the first time in June

– Millennium Stadium reduces the rugby code by eight players to stage the Wales leg of the IRB Sevens Series in June 2001

– British Speedway brings motorsport to the Millennium Stadium’s multi-purpose capabilities also in June 2001 by staging the Grand Prix

– The FA Community Shield of 2001 between Manchester United and Liverpool becomes the first football match played under a closed roof in the UK

– Wales and Australia play the world’s first indoor rugby match when the roof is closed for their Autumn international clash in November 2001

– Leicester and Munster contest the first Heineken Cup Final to be played at the Millennium Stadium in May 2002, Munster lose to Leicester but return victorious in two further Millennium Stadium finals against Biarritz Olympique in 2006 and Toulouse in 2008

– The world’s first indoor cricket match is played as Britain take on a ‘Rest of the World’ team in Power Cricket

– Munster return to the Millennium Stadium to win the second Celtic League Final against Neath in February 2003

– The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final is hosted for the first time in April 2003, Bradford Bulls defeat Leeds Rhinos

– Manchester City and Kevin Keegan take on TNS as a UEFA Cup qualification play-off match is staged at the venue in August 2003

– The Stadium hosts its first competitive Football International play-off match in November 2003 between Wales and Russia for the following summer’s UEFA Euro 2004 tournament

– New Year’s Eve 2003, the venue becomes a giant dance floor for its first Stadium School Party Night

– Millennium Stadium’s football pedigree continues to grow with a continental friendly between Barcelona and Parma in August 2004; Ronaldinho (later 2004 FIFA Player of nthe Year), Henrik Larsson, Luis Garcia and Andrés Iniesta are amongst the Catalan talent on display

– In January 2005 Tsunami Relief Cardiff sees the Millennium Stadium put on a marathon Live Aid-style music extravaganza to raise money for the victims of the disaster

– Wales celebrates its first Grand Slam in 27 years when defeating Ireland in the final match of the 2005 season’s RBS Six Nations, the feat is repeated in 2008 when Wales defeat France, also in the final match of the tournament

– The British & Irish Lions play their first ‘home’ match at the venue in 2005 drawing with Argentina as a ‘farewell’ to the fans before departing for their tour of New Zealand

– A new partition-drape system allows Millennium Stadium to host an arena-style concert with REM in the summer of 2005

– Developing the motorsport functionality of the Millennium Stadium on the back of Speedway and Supercross a Millennium Stadium stage of Wales Rally GB in the World Rally Championships takes place in December 2005; the venue also hosts the finish that year

– The 125th FA Cup Final in 2006 – a classic 3-3 and penalties between Liverpool and West Ham Utd is the sixth and last FA Cup Final the Millennium Stadium hosts; the seventh and last Football League (Carling) Cup Final is hosted in 2007

– The Rugby World Cup returns to the venue in 2007 with Wales’s pool matches and a classic quarter-final encounter between New Zealand and France

– There have been five nights of boxing at the stadium, three of which were between 2006 and 2007: on 8 July 2006 when Matt Skelton beat Danny Williams for the Commonwealth heavyweight title. On 7 April 2007, Joe Calzaghe beat Peter Manfredo to retain his WBO super middleweight belt. On 3 November 2007, Calzaghe beat Mikkel Kessler to retain his WBO super middleweight belt and win the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles

– Express Eventing in 2008 adds an equestrian flavour to the Millennium Stadium’s sporting CV

– In 2009 the Millennium Stadium becomes the scene of the world’s first rugby union penalty shoot-out after Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers end extra-time of their Heineken Cup semi-final deadlocked



– January 22nd 2016 the ground is renamed PRINCIPALITY STADIUM as part of a new 10-year partnership deal with Principality Building society who also invest in grass roots rugby.


– The Stadium was given a five star rating by UEFA in 2003 and its rich history of hosting football reached a crescendo on the 30 June 2015 when it was chosen as the venue for the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final. The final was played out on 3 June 2017 between Juventus and Real Madrid, with Real winning 4-1

– On 28 October 2017  Anthony Joshua successfully retained his WBA (Super), IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles against mandatory challenger Carlos Takam with a 10th round stoppage.

– On 31 March 2018, it hosted the World heavyweight unification fight between Anthony Joshua, holder of the WBA and IBF belts, and Joseph Parker, holder of the WBO belt Joshua beat Parker on points in front of a world record breaking 80,000-plus indoor crowd.

– Ed Sheeran became the first music act to play four nights in a row, each night sold-out during an incredible summer concert calendar for the Stadium in 2018, which also included a visit from Coldplay.





– The Rugby World Cup comes to the Cardiff Arms Park in 1991; Wales fail to reach the quarter finals

– Ian Rush scores the only goal in a famous 1-0 victory over the then World Champions West Germany

– Cardiff Arms Park hosts concerts including Tina Turner

– Boxing title fights come to the venue in the form of Lennox Lewis v Frank Bruno in 1993

– SWALEC Cup Final is the very last game at Wales’s National Ground in 1997

– Redevelopment begins for the Millennium Stadium in September 1997 after auctioning of parts of the old National Stadium



– Great XVs from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia still draw big crowds

– Paul Thorburn establishes a world record for a penalty goal kick of 70 yards and 8.5 inches in 1988

– From 1989, Cardiff Arms Park becomes ‘home’ to Wales’s soccer stars



– The National Ground, Cardiff Arms Park wholly reconstructed during the 1970s

– The Welsh ‘Golden Era’ – John Dawes, Gareth Edwards, Barry John, Mervyn Davies, Gerald Davies, JPR Williams and Phil Bennett are superstars



– Keith Jarrett’s arrival on the international scene when he scored one of the most audacious and spectacular tries witnessed at Cardiff in 1967



– First Grand Slam victory by Wales for 39 years in 1950

– New Zealand lose twice in 1953 but have beaten Wales there ever time since 1951

– South stand opens in 1956 ready for the 1958 Empire Games with standing room for another 47,000 spectators



– Teddy Morgan’s solitary try in December 1905 inflicted defeat upon the first All Blacks

– World champion status is conferred upon Wales

– Cardiff beat South Africa – New Years Day 1907

– New North Stand is opened but wrecked by a land mine dropped by the Luftwaffe in 1941



– Lord Bute donates the Park to the people of Cardiff

– Cricket is played from 1848

– Cardiff Rugby Club is formed in 1876

– First victory for Wales over Ireland in 1884

– Grand Stand opens 1885

– Grand Stand extension completed in 1890

– New pavilion opened for changing, indoor exercise and social functions