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 two Rugby World Cups including the Final in 1999, witnessed three Wales Grand Slam successes in the RBS 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. The new Desso pitch installed in the summer of 2015 means the stadium will be retains it reputation of being one of most modern stadia in the world.

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.

Development Options

A number of different development options were considered. One included adding a third tier to the existing Stadium, another suggested moving to a completely new site. The Millennium Stadium redevelopment option eventually chosen and supported by the Millennium Commission became the fourth redevelopment in the history of the Cardiff Arms Park site.

Project Funding

It was clear from the budget requirement for the Millennium Stadium (of over £100m) that Government Funding would be required. The only potential source of funding at the time was the National Lottery, set up in 1994, as one of eight major UK projects of the Millennium Commission.

Criteria that the Millennium Stadium had to meet in order to qualify for funding were:

– Public support
– To make a substantial contribution to the community
– To look back on the past Millennium and into the new one
– Mark a significant movement in history
– Be of a high architectural design and environmental quality
– Include partnership with the local community
– Would not be possible on most commission funds

The Millennium Commission were prepared to fund a maximum of £50m worth of the redevelopment. The Welsh Rugby Union decided to raise the remainder of the £114m budget from commercial sources.

After competition from the proposed Cardiff Bay Opera House in March 1996 the Millennium Commission agreed to support the redevelopment of the Cardiff Arms Park site by turning the Stadium through 90 degrees, developing over the existing TAVRA and BT sites, and demolishing the Empire Pool on the corner of Wood and Park streets to create an open plaza guaranteeing safe access and entrance for attending spectators.


The Millennium

– The new venue becomes a giant concert arena for a New Year’s Eve Millennium extravaganza as the Manic Street Preachers see in revellers 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 fuctionality 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

– Joe Calzaghe is victorious against Mikkel Kessler in a unification World Championship boxing title superfight in October of that year

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

– 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

Enter the Millennium Stadium and RWC 1999

– With construction work still to be done, a three-quarters complete Millennium Stadium hosts its very first match in 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 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