St James’ Park stadium is the home of Premier League side Newcastle United with a capacity of 52,404. In recent years owner Mike Ashley renamed the ground the “Sports Direct Arena” after his company but he soon restored the original signage after protests from fans of the club.
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St James’ Park first became home to Newcastle United in 1892 after two local clubs, Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End decided to merge. Before this the aristocratic ground had been used to host football matches for two years previously. Situated within Town Moor, the Leazes Terrace was constructed in 1830, and today remains a Grade 1 listed building due to its Georgian design.
Traditionally seen as a working-class sport, the development of St James park has often caused conflict amongst local residents, even as far back as 1899. When Newcastle constructed the first 30,000 capacity Gallowgate End in anticipation of the football league, many residents opposed the stand, and this has been a reoccurring theme throughout St James Park history.
In the 1920s famous football architect Archibald Leitch’s designs were sadly never implemented, and planning difficulties were cited as the main reason why Newcastle United’s ground failed to host group matches of the 1966 World Cup. With further attempts quashed by the local council, the club at one stage even contemplated sharing with their great rivals Sunderland A.F.C.
After the tragic events of the Bradford City Stadium Fire in 1985 and Hillsborough in 1989, there was an increased emphasis on spectator safety, and the council became more receptive to renovation. A series of modest expansions increased the clubs capacity to 36,610 by 1995 however it wasn’t until the Freddy Shepherd lead expansion in 1998 that St James Park really came into its own.
After plans for a 55,000 capacity stadium in Leazes Park inspired by the San Siro were rejected, Newcastle focused on expansion, and the Milburn Stand and Leazes Stand were rebuilt at a cost of £42 million. Completely filled in, the two stands consists of seating across two-tiers and are impressively large compared to the other two stands of St James Park.
Below is a seating plan of Newcastle's St James’ Park:
St James Park is comprised of the following four stands: The Leazes Stand (North), The East Stand, The Gallowgate Road End (South) and the Milburn Stand (West).
Click the thumbnails above to enlarge an image of each stand and to read a more detailed description of each part of the stadium.
The Matchday Experience
Away fans who make the potentially long trip to Newcastle are housed within the Sir John Hall Stand which is the northern-goal end in front of the Leazes Park. The allocation of 3,000 tickets really allows the travelling fans to make some noise, however as you are right at the back of the stand you can’t help but feel very far away from the players on the pitch.
In order to reach the vertiginous seats away fans are required to climb 14 flights of stairs, so by the time you reach the modest concourse you’ve more than earned some refreshments. The kiosks sell a few different types of beer and a selection of well-priced hot-food options such as Pies and Sausage Rolls although they all come wrapped in Newcastle United packaging!
As St James’ is relatively central to Newcastle city centre, fans have a lot of choice when it comes to boozers and eateries with the main shopping area of Newcastle literally being a 5 minute walk away.
There is “A Head of Steam”, “O’Neill’s” and “The Lounge” all pretty much outside the train station with Wetherspoons pitching in with the “Union Rooms” slightly further away.
Also don’t forget to try a famous Newcastle Brown Ale, which was the club’s iconic sponsor back in the late 90s.
Within the centre of town there is plenty of typical fast food choices and you will definitely be able to enjoy something familiar if you wish.
A quite popular choice for visitors is “China Town” located south of St James Park, and although the name implies otherwise, there’s actually quite a lot of diverse cuisine on offer. There’s everything from Nando’s to Chicken Cottage, and Thai to Japanese, and of course decent Chinese.
Newcastle operate a club shop at St James Park in addition to two other stores throughout the city centre as well as an Online shop known as NUFC Direct.
The club store at the stadium has the following open times:
- Monday to Friday: 9.00 am – 5.30 pm
- Saturday: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
- Sunday: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Newcastle recently launched a brand new stadium tour which is very reasonably priced at £15.00 for adults, £12.00 for Concessions (Students and Seniors) and £8.00 for Children.
- Monday to Friday: 11.00 am, 12.00 pm and 2.00 pm
- Saturday: 10.30 am, 12.30 am and 2.30 pm
- Sunday: 10.30 am and 11.30 am
- Matchdays: 10.30 am (Provisional)
St James’ Park is located on the edge of Newcastle’s city centre making it easy to reach by public transport.
St James Park Stadium’s address for satnav is as follows:
- Barrack Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4ST
Being central there are quite a few large carparks to choose from such as a large multi-storey on Queen Victoria Road signposted as “Royal Victoria Infirmary”.
It is also worth noting that there is a Metro inside the train station which has a dedicated “St. James’ Park” station, however it requires you to travel to Monument Metro station where you need to change trains to the stadium. This one is more for the locals however.
Once you’ve caught the train to Newcastle’s main train station there’s no need to catch another…all you have to do is walk the short 10 minute distance, north east towards Leazes Park.
- Exit the station, cross two zebra crossings and up Pink Lane
- Cross Westgate Road at the top going along Bath Lane marked by old city walls.
- Turn right onto Stowell Street which is Chinatown
- At the end of Stowell Street keep left on St Andrews Street through the Chinese Arch
- Left up Gallowgate…and you’re at the ground.
Airports and Flying
The closest airport to St James’ is Newcastle International Airport which is 7.7 miles north of the stadium. A journey by car or taxi will take you around 20 minutes providing good traffic, and you can even get to the stadium easily enough via the metro with only one change at Monument station required.
The closest hotel to the stadium is Sandman Signature Hotel with the Royal station hotel being popular due to its proximity to the train station.
Elsewhere around the city is the likes of Holiday Inn and Premier Inn which overlooks the river Tyne. Whatever you book, you can’t really go too wrong location wise as the city centre is fairly compact.