The Stadium Of Light: Sunderland AFC

Sunderland Football Club, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England, SR5 1SU
By Mrs Logic (Stadium of Light, Sunderland) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

With the sixth largest capacity of any football stadium in England and the fifth largest in the Premier League, The Stadium Of Light has been Sunderland’s home since they left the much loved Roker Park in 1997. The stadium hasn’t just been used for Sunderland matches, though, it’s also been the location of England international matches and numerous concerts.

As for the Black Cats themselves, they have a number of noteworthy achievements to mention. They have won the top-flight league six times, although the most recent was in 1936, so it’s not much for their fans to get excited about. They won the FA Cup in 1937 and 1973 and since their promotion back into the Premier League in 2007 they have gone on to become the 31st richest club in the world.

Stats

The Stadium Of Light Stats
Year Opened1997
Capacity49,000
Average Attendance40,953
Record Attendance48,335 (Sunderland v Newcastle (2002))
Pitch Size105 x 68 (7140)
OwnerSunderland A.F.C.
Clubs HostedSunderland AFC
First FixtureSunderland v Ajax (30/07/1997)
Sunderland Stats
Year Founded1879
NicknameThe Black Cats
Club MascotSamson and Delilah
RivalsNewcastle United, Middlesborough
Previous StadiumsBlue House Field, Groves Field, Horatio Street, Abbs Field, Newcastle Road, Roker Park
KitRed & White stripes (Home) / Light Blue (Away)
Training GroundThe Academy Of Light
Shirt Sponsordafabet
Team OwnerEllis Short
Record GoalscorerBobby Gurney (228)
Record AppearancesJimmy Montgomery (627)

The Stadium Of Light Photos

The Stadium Of Light Seating Plan & Where to Sit

By PeeJay2K3 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

As much as they hate to admit it, there are similarities between Newcastle’s stadium and Sunderland’s home ground. Much like St. James’ Park The Stadium of Light is single-tiered on two sides and double-tiered on the other two.

The ground is in a square bowl shape and away supporters are housed in the upper section of The North Stand. The West Stand plays home to the Premier Concourse, the area for the VIP seats and executive boxes. The East Stand seats have the Sunderland emblem on them, whilst The North Stand’s seats feature the slogan ‘Ha’way The Lads’.

Sunderland Ticket Prices

On the one hand Sunderland’s ticket pricing is quite easy to understand, with matches split into different categories and then priced accordingly. On the other hand the club doesn’t give away much information about the prices for junior fans or concessions.

Here we’ll give you the most expensive and the cheapest adult prices in each category as they’re the only ones we can tell you with any degree of certainty.

League Games

  • Category A - £32 - £40
  • Category B - £27 - £35
  • Category C - £25 - £30

How To Get Sunderland Tickets

Tickets are available through the club’s official website or the telephone ticketing line. You might also see people offering tickets near to the ground on the day of the match but they should be avoided. Chances are they may not be real tickets and, even if they are, it will probably go against the club’s ticketing terms and conditions if you buy a ticket from an unofficial location.

Getting To The Stadium Of Light

Swap Start/End

Sunderland, like Newcastle and Middlesborough, is out on the coast in the North-East of the country, so it’s not exactly simple to get to. It’s hardly in the middle of nowhere, though, and the Stadium itself is in a nice position in relation to the city.

train - Sunderland Railway Station is around 10 to 15 minutes walk from the stadium and it’s reachable by most of the main stations in the country. If you’d rather not walk from the station then you can get the Metro to the ground. Both St. Peter’s and The Stadium Of Light stations are close to the ground.

Bus - Buses 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 15 and 16 all call within a few minutes of the ground. If you’re based in or around the city’s outer limits then know that all main routes in the Wearside region call at the main Sunderland bus station, Park Lane Interchange.

Car - If you’re looking to drive to The Stadium Of Light then you’ll be taking the A19 and the A1. For more specific directions you might want to use the stadium’s post code, SR5 1SU.

By Air - Newcastle Airport is the closest airport to Sunderland. There is a Metro station there that links to Sunderland, with the journey time taking just under an hour.

Taxi - A taxi journey from the train station to the ground will take between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the traffic, and will cost around the same amount.

Parking Near The Stadium Of Light

The club operates a park and ride scheme, which is worth your consideration, and there is also a park and walk scheme that might be something you fancy. There is also some limited parking at the ground itself but you’ll need to get a parking permit in advance for that. There are restrictions on the parking around the stadium and if you head to the club’s website you’ll find a list of roads you won’t be able to park in.

Useful Resources

The Stadium Of Light Hotels

Sunderland is a large, sprawling city, so the hotel options you have available to you are numerous. Here are some specific selections, though, if you want some ideas:

Best Western Roker Hotel - £40+

Roker Terrace, Sunderland, SR6 9ND
Best Westerns aren’t the fanciest chain hotels around, but they’re functional. This one is located less than a mile and a half from the ground and has three restaurants, meeting rooms and a conference centre. More details.

Sunderland Marriott Hotel - £79+

Queens Parade Seaburn, Sunderland, SR6 8DB
The Marriott in Sunderland is just over two miles away from the stadium and has two restaurants, an indoor pool and free parking. More details.

Hideaway at Herrington Hill - £110+

Newbottle, Houghton le Spring, DH4 4NH
A little further afield from The Stadium Of Light at just under 5 miles away, the Hideaway at Herrington Hill is an upscale guesthouse with free Wi-Fi, free parking and breakfast available. More details.

Pubs & Bars Near The Stadium Of Light

Sunderland offers an excellent nightlife, loads of places to have a good drink and a top atmosphere. There are heaps of locations you can have a pre-match pint, but here’s a neat selection if you’re not sure where to start:

Londonderry

287 High Street West, SR1 3ES (0191 567 9251)
Londonderry is one of the real party pubs in the centre of Sunderland. They have weekend DJs, live sport and they often attract a large football loving crowd.

Ttonic Bar & Kitchen

12-14 Vine Place, SR1 3NE (0191 565 5755)
Draught beers, top-notch wines and cocktails are all available here, as well as delicious food. The bar offers 20 widescreen TVs dotted about the place and a big screen in an upstairs section.

Chaplins

40 Stockton Road, SR1 3NR (0191 565 3964)
This traditional pub with cask ales has recently been refurbished. They serve food and have 9 televisions showing plenty of live sport.

Facilities

The Stadium Of Light boasts a family friendly atmosphere and all of the facilities you’ve come to expect from a Premier League ground. Though the prices of food and drinks are a little on the expensive side, there are at least plenty of places to buy them on the concourses around the ground. You’ll also find a number of betting kiosks in the stadium, too, should you want to have a gamble on the outcome of the match.

Prices

  • Programme: 3.00
  • Pie: 3.00
  • Cup of tea: 2.30
  • Beer: 3.10

Hospitality

By Ben Harding. (Sunderland vs Newcastle - Warmup) [CC BY-SA 2.0 or CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are exactly the sort of hospitality packages at The Stadium Of Light that you’d expect from a top-level Premier League club. If you’re looking for a more informal, relaxed environment, for example, then the Black Cats Bar might tickle your fancy. You can wear your Sunderland top whilst you have a home-cooked dish of the day, enjoy a cash bar and then take your padded seat in The Carling Stand.

If you want something a little more formal from your match-going hospitality experience then you might want to consider the Business Lounge. You’ll have to wear a jacket and a top with a collar, but in return you’ll be welcomed with a drinks reception, tapas canapés and a pre-match buffet. You’ll also be given a tour of the dressing room before the match, tea, coffee and cakes at half-time and refreshments and savoury snacks at full-time.

One of the top-level hospitality experiences you can have at The Stadium Of Light can be found in the Executive Club. You’ll get a behind the scenes tour, a guest appearance from a former Sunderland player or two and you’ll also get to witness the man of the match presentation. You’ll also get a three-course meal, private bar facilities and a padded seat on the halfway line.

Private Hire

The sheer volume of lounges and bars at The Stadium Of Light mean that the private hire options at the club are virtually endless. Quinn’s Bar, the Black Cats Bar and Magic Moments Bar are all ideal locations for smaller, more informal gatherings like birthdays and Christenings. Meanwhile the Business Lounge, the James Herriot Suite and the Carling Lounge offer alternative locations for more robust gatherings.

There are also 54 executive boxes available at the ground and these are ideal for presentations, interviews and breakout meetings from larger presentations. The Montgomerie Suite is ideal for just such large-scale events, from corporate presentations through to conferences or award ceremonies.

As well as fun, formal events like proms, The Stadium Of Light is also registered to host weddings and civil ceremonies. Whether you want to follow more traditional wedding-day protocols or you’re keen to have a personal ceremony, the staff at the stadium will help you out with everything you want. If you are a big Sunderland fan then what better way is there to celebrate your big day than at the club’s home ground.

Stadium Tours & Museum

Like most of the top Premier League grounds, you can do tours of The Stadium Of Light throughout the year. The tours last just over an hour and take in the corporate facilities at the club, the director’s box, the dressing rooms and the tunnel out to pitch side. There you’ll be able to sit in the dugout and get some photos taken before heading to the press box for another photo opportunity.

Tours take place on most days apart from match days and cost £10 for adults or £5 for under-16s of over-65 year olds. The club also runs specialist Legend Tours where you’ll be guided around the stadium by an ex-player associated with the club. These cost £35 for adults and £18 for everyone else.

About Sunderland

Sunderland achieved their first FA Cup win with a 3-1 victory over Preston North End in 1937. They then stayed in the country’s top-flight division for 68 seasons in a row. They then picked up their second FA Cup in 1973 when they beat Leeds United 1-0. Their main rival is Newcastle United and the two club’s contest the Tyne-Wear derby and have done since 1898.

In recent years Sunderland have created numerous affiliations with several different African clubs. Ghana’s Asante Kotoko, Egyptian side El-Ittihad El-Iskandary and South African team Bidvest Wits are amongst those clubs. Sunderland also have a commercial partnership with the Major League Soccer team DC United, based in Washington DC.

Sunderland have never been the type of club to splash the cash around in the transfer market. The most expensive player the club has ever sold is Darren Bent, who they got £24 million for from Aston Villa in 2011. They received £16 million from Liverpool for Jordan Henderson in the same year.

The Stadium Of Light History

Roker Park August 1976 Vs Arsenal - John Harvey [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

During their history Sunderland have played in seven different stadiums. The longest amount of time they’ve spent in one place was at Roker Park, the club’s ground from 1898 until they moved to The Stadium Of Light in 1997. The Stadium Of Light, or SoL as it’s known for short, was officially opened by Prince Andrew, The Duke Of York.

When the ground opened it had a capacity of 42,000 that was increased to 49,000 in the year 2000. The stadium features a Davy lamp monument outside of it, a reminder of the Monkwearmouth Colliery that it was built on top of. The name of the ground is also a tip of the cap towards Sunderland’s mining past. Benfica, the Portuguese club, is called Estadio da Luz, which, when translated, means The Stadium Of Light. This is purely coincidental.

Future Developments

By User:John_the_mackem (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

The Stadium Of Light was originally designed to allow expansion to up to 64,000 seats. In 2007 plans were put forward and accepted to expand the capacity to 56,000 but they ended up being shelved when the side was relegated. Though there are no major plans for redevelopment at the moment, there is the possibility that they made add another 7200 seats to the South Stand in the near future.

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