Arsenal Stadium - Closure and Redevelopment

Closure and Redevelopment

The post-Taylor capacity of Highbury was limited to 38,419, while Arsenal's success during the 1990s and 2000s meant that virtually every home match was filled to near capacity. Restrictions, such as the East Stand's status as a listed building and the fact the stadium was surrounded on all sides by a residential area, made any future expansion of Highbury difficult and expensive. Eventually Arsenal decided to leave Highbury and construct a new stadium, the Emirates Stadium in nearby Ashburton Grove, which opened in July 2006. Arsenal's offices were moved to a new building, Highbury House, which was named in commemoration of the former stadium.

For their final season at Highbury (2005–06) Arsenal ran a series of promotions honouring the stadium's legacy. A commemorative logo was designed featuring the club's traditional Art Deco crest from the 1930s and the club's history at Highbury was celebrated through a series of themed matchdays. On the field, Arsenal temporarily set aside their traditional red shirts with white sleeves for the season and adopted a solid redcurrant shirt, the colour they wore during their first season at Highbury in 1913–14.

Arsenal's final game at the stadium was their FA Premier League match on 7 May 2006 against Wigan Athletic, the last game of the season. The team needed to better the result of neighbours Tottenham Hotspur in order to again secure qualification for the Champions League. Having been 2-1 behind, a hat trick by captain and all-time leading goal scorer Thierry Henry secured qualification, with Henry kneeling down to kiss the turf on scoring what proved to be the final goal seen at the stadium. The last goal scored in a regulation game at the stadium came in a Football Aid charity match when lifelong fan Alan Alger scored a penalty in the final minute of a fixture played on Thursday 8 June 2006 (exactly one month and one day after Henry's goal). After the stadium's closure, Arsenal held an auction to sell off many of the stadium's parts, including pieces of the pitch, the goalposts and former manager George Graham's desk. Sale of the stadium's seats had to be cancelled after it was found they contained trace amounts of the toxic metal cadmium.

As of 2010, Arsenal Stadium was redeveloped and converted into flats in a project known as "Highbury Square", a scheme that had 711 properties built on the site. The North Bank and Clock End stands were demolished and the famous clock was moved to the new stadium. The exteriors of the listed Art Deco East Stand and the matching West Stand were preserved and incorporated into the new developments, while the rest of the stands' structures were removed, and the pitch became a communal garden. In October 2005 the proposed flats went on sale; as of May 2006 all properties in the North, East and West Stands had been taken.

Arsenal's famous clock was moved from Highbury to the outer side of the new stadium, with a new larger version of the feature added inside the ground in August 2010. At the same time as the unveiling of the new clock, the south stands at the venue were also renamed Clock End inline with the same name previously used at Highbury.

Read more about this topic:  Arsenal Stadium

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