A quick overview of Championship Stadiums
Being the second-highest division in English football, and having 24 teams that currently compete in this division, it’s fair to say that there’s a decent and impressive range of Championship grounds right now. Of course, these grounds are located all over England, and given the diversity, there’s a fair chance that you won’t be all that far away from some of the stadiums mentioned here. Naturally, the stadiums vary quite substantially both in terms of their aesthetics and their overall quality, which is why we’ve narrowed things down and covered the top stadiums for teams currently in this division.
Hillsborough – Sheffield Wednesday
The first stadium we’d like to cover here is one that most people have likely heard about, and not for the best reasons. Of course, this is the stadium where the tragic ‘Hillsborough Disaster’ occurred, and the impact of this event changed the scope of spectators at football games forever. But looking beyond the horrific events of that day, Hillsborough is still one of the best Championship stadiums in 2021. Having been established in 1899, Hillsborough has remained in place and received plenty of investment behind the improvements we see today.
These days, Hillsborough has a capacity of almost 40,000, it has a fantastic drainage system for the pitch, as well as under-pitch heating (perfect for the English winters!), and there are still more plans to improve the stadium to ultimately host World Cup games in the future. If you want to visit this ground, you’ll have to travel to the South of Yorkshire, and since it’s not that far from Sheffield United’s ground, you could check them both out if you really wanted to.
Riverside Stadium – Middlesborough
The reason that we believe this to be one of the top Championship grounds is largely due to how modern the stadium is. Then again, it was first built back in 1995, so you would expect it to have a more modern design, as well as other leading features. As you may recall, Middlesbrough actually gained promotion to the Premier League just a few years ago, and as a direct result of this achievement, £5 million was ploughed into stadium development. But unfortunately for Middlesborough and their fans, while the new stadium appearance went down well, the team’s performance did not match the aesthetic upgrade.
At the time of writing, Middlesbrough is fighting to get back up to the top-flight of English football, and on a good day, there can be more than 34,000 Middlesborough fans backing their team.
Cardiff City Stadium – Cardiff
To enjoy this one, you’d need to take a trip across the border into Wales, but since this is actually the second-largest stadium in Wales, it’s worth it. Besides being the home stadium for Cardiff City, it’s also the designated stadium for international games involving Wales, with a capacity of more than 33,000. The stadium was actually built just over 10 years ago, back in 2009, and it came with a cool price tag of £48 million. We quite enjoy the style of this stadium too, as it’s a pretty open ground with two tiers on all sides – perfect to develop a great atmosphere during games!
Much like some of the other Championship stadiums, this one is also used as a bit of a multi-purpose stadium, with rugby games, concerts, and other events taking place here. It’s all the more impressive that despite all of the activity, the quality of the stadium is maintained year-round.
Pride Park Stadium – Derby County
Derby County is a side that has also enjoyed top-flight football during their time, and it has a stadium to match. Pride Park really is a spectacle, which is why we just had to include it on the list of the best Championship Stadiums today. Not only does this ground have a capacity of 35,000+, but it’s also ranked as the 20th biggest football ground in the UK – meaning it would qualify for the Premiership of stadiums if there were such a thing! And although this in itself is an impressive fact, Pride Park didn’t exactly break the bank as far as the construction budget goes, as the entire build cost around £28 million. This is a far cry from the hundreds of millions invested into stadiums that might be slightly larger.
Of course, most of the time this stadium plays host to Derby County’s home matches, but it has seen some international action throughout the years too. In fact, when England played against Mexico in 2001, the stadium actually maxed out its capacity for the game – something that rarely happens these days.
Dean Court – Bournemouth
When people think of impressive Championship grounds, they often think about those stadiums with the most breathtaking architecture or the greatest capacity statistics. While yes, this does raise the appeal of a stadium, it’s not the be-all and end-all. In fact, sometimes the smaller venues tend to create better atmospheres since everyone is so packed together – and this is certainly the case at Dean Court. Despite the fact that Bournemouth has been in the Premier League for several seasons before being relegated to the Championship, the capacity has not increased above the current 11,364. This is probably a contributor to why teams seem to find it quite difficult to come and play Bournemouth at Dean Court too.
This close-quarters style of the ground means that the fans are quite close to the pitch, and this can lead to quite an intimidating feel. With that said, Bournemouth fans have recently welcomed the news that the stadium could well be moving to a larger venue with a more modern stadium. This decision has recently been made by the club following a series of hurdles associated with the current venue, such as planning permission, costs, etc. This would definitely help the club maximize revenues through ticket sales, and it would essentially raise the prestige of the club too!