FIFA President opens new National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast
The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park has been officially opened by Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA.
The Northern Ireland Executive and the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (now Department for Communities) provided the GB£38m funding for the redevelopment of the home of Northern Ireland football.
Northern Ireland First Minister, Arlene Foster, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, were among the guests at the opening ceremony along with Irish FA President, David Martin, and Irish FA Chief Executive, Patrick Nelson.
The official launch was staged prior to Northern Ireland’s FIFA World Cup 2018™ qualifier against San Marino.
Speaking at the official opening, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said:
With this project the Irish Football Association is both safeguarding its historical legacy and reshaping its football home in a way that fits the country’s needs.
Windsor Park has been transformed into a compact, world class stadium. It is a smart and sustainable solution, and I am honoured to be here in Belfast to see this project come to life.
Congratulations Northern Ireland. May the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park be the stage for unforgettable matches and moments for many years to come.
Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said the stadium was a fitting home for Northern Ireland’s involvement in the number one sport in the world. He added:
The National Football Stadium is not just a building but a symbol of hope and aspiration for the new Northern Ireland we are all part of.
The redevelopment project, which took 29 months to complete, has seen three new stands – East, South and West – built at the stadium, while seating in the ground’s existing North Stand has been refurbished and a new covered walkway added.
The stadium, which now has a capacity of 18,600, features four hospitality lounges – named after Northern Ireland football legends (Pat Jennings, Danny Blanchflower, George Best and Billy Bingham) – as well as 10 corporate boxes.
It will soon feature an education and heritage centre, as well as a store selling Northern Ireland merchandise.
The ground is also now the Irish FA’s HQ and houses the offices of both Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) and Linfield FC.
A total of 1292 people worked on the construction project, from designers to builders, and between them they clocked up 754,400 work hours. Around 1,900 lorry loads of concrete were used – circa 25,000 tonnes – as well as 186,000 bricks.
About the stadium project
On Tuesday 6 May, 2014, work began on the redevelopment of the National Football Stadium for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.
The stadium project, completed in October 2016, has a capacity of over 18,000 seats.
The redevelopment included:
- Full replacement of the football surface and drainage
- Demolition of the South Stand
- Replacement of the South and East stands to provide modern spectator and media facilities
- Refurbishment of the seating in the West and North Stands
- Replacement of floodlight mast, with the new floodlighting integrated at roof height
The new headquarters for the Irish Football Association (IFA) will be in the East Stand and located in the South Stand are the IFA’s international match day, corporate hospitality and conference facilities.
Image of the National Football Stadium for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park courtesy: Irish Football Association (IFA)