League One Stadiums – Overview
Although League One might be the third-tier of football in England, there are still plenty of impressive grounds that fans can visit. People often think that the lower leagues don’t have grounds with quite the same feel or quality as the Championship or Premier League. However, it’s important to remember that some of the League One grounds are home to teams that have previously been at the top of the tree in English football, so as you might imagine, they are fairly impressive! On that note, we’d like to share our view on some of the best grounds that this league has to offer in 2021, as well as cover some key statistics for each stadium mentioned.
Stadium MK – MK Dons
MK Dons has always been a popular team in the UK, and it has a stadium that backs up the following that this club has. At the time of writing, Stadium MK is the second-largest of all the League One stadiums, with a capacity of 30,500. When you look at the stadium, you’ll probably notice that there seems to be a large gap between the second-tier and the roof too. This is actually because the stadium was built with the option to add a third-tier as and when necessary, with reports that doing so would increase the overall capacity by 15,000. Should this happen, MK Dons would actually overtake the current largest stadium in League One – the Stadium of Light.
And while Stadium MK usually hosts home games for the club, it’s no stranger to hosting international games. In fact, Stadium MK has hosted quite a number of under 21 games for England, which has led to quite a number of football fans becoming familiar with the ground.
Stadium of Light – Sunderland
Since the Stadium of Light is the 9th biggest stadium in England, how could we not include it as one of the best League One grounds right now? When 100% full, this ground can host up to 45,000 spectators, although the closest the ground has come to this figure was when Sunderland played Liverpool back in 2002. And although the stadium was first opened in 1997, it quickly received additional investment for expansion, which occurred in 2000 – much to the delight of Sunderland fans.
Like several of the other teams listed here, Sunderland has previously played in the Premier League, meaning that a stadium of such stature was required. However, it’s clear that Sunderland has had a bit of a fall from grace since enjoying top-flight football, but things could well be turning around at the club since they are currently pushing for promotion to the Championship. From there, it’s just one more step into the Premier League, and should this happen, who knows – maybe the stadium will receive another cash boost to increase its size?
The Valley – Charlton Athletic
Being located in London, The Valley is competing among a skyline of some of the best football grounds in England. With that said, it is holding its own, so we feel that it deserves its spot on this list of the top League One stadiums for 2021. Having been opened at the conclusion of World War One, The Valley has remained in place to this very day, and each of the stands has been restructured throughout the years to keep the quality up to scratch. On that note, the ‘Covered End’ is where all the magic typically happens, with loyal fans all chanting and screaming for their team during home games – with up to 9,000 fans piling into this part of the ground alone.
The maximum capacity is a bit smaller than some of the other grounds listed here, at 27,111, but as you can imagine, this is still more than enough to create a great atmosphere on game day. Some say that Charlton Athletic have lost a bit of their popularity ever since the glory days of being in the Premier League. But like the other teams mentioned, if they can climb back up the tiers, we are confident that they will fill up the stadium once again for home games.
Portman Road – Ipswich Town
Portman Road was first opened all the way back in 1884, which makes it one of the older League One grounds we’ve covered. And as it happens, the ground was not changed all that much until renovations took place in 2002. These renovations led to an increase in the capacity of the ground by around 8,000, and these days, you’ll find that Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey both have their names under lights for the different stands. It’s always nice to see tributes paid to such legends, and while Ipswich Town is the primary team that plays here, Portman Road has also played host to hockey games, rugby games, and many rock concerts involving some huge stars.
This makes it quite a versatile stadium indeed, but for Ipswich Town fans, the true focus is getting their team back into top-flight football as quickly as possible.
DW Stadium – Wigan Athletic
Finally, the DW Stadium is another one that stands out among the many others. Of course, the DW Stadium is nestled on the outskirts of Manchester, meaning that it isn’t all that far from stadiums such as Old Trafford – definitely worth a visit! And interestingly, it’s one of the few League One grounds that shares its use on a weekly basis, since the stadium is also where Wigan Warriors play their rugby league games when at home. When fully packed, the DW Stadium can host over 25,000 spectators, and perhaps most impressively, since the stadium opened its doors in 1999 the average footfall has increased by more than 180%.
This shows an increase in the popularity of the club as a whole, and it has also resulted in better revenue figures for the club through ticket sales. All of this bodes well for the club moving forward!