The Ricoh Arena, home to Coventry City F.C., is a stadium complex situated in the Rowleys Green district of the city of Coventry, England containing a 32,500 seater football stadium, a 6,000 square-metre exhibition hall, a hotel, a leisure club and a casino. The site is also home to a retail park containing one of the UK's largest Tesco Extra hypermarkets. The site was previously home to the Foleshill gasworks. It is named after its sponsor, Japanese company Ricoh.
The arena was opened officially by Dame Kelly Holmes and Sports Minister Richard Caborn on 24 February 2007. This was after the arena had been open for a year which included hosting a sell out England under 21 football match against Germany and a full season of Coventry City Football.
The first concert held at the arena was Bryan Adams on 23 September 2005. The bar in the Eon Lounge, overlooking the pitch, was named 'The Bryan Adams Bar' after the Canadian rocker. Bon Jovi played there live on June 7 2006 (35,000 attendance), as did Red Hot Chili Peppers on July 2 2006 (40,000). For both the Bon Jovi and Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts, the fans were able to stand on the pitch. The venue played host to the Heineken Cup semifinal match between Northampton Saints and London Wasps on Sunday 22 April 2007. London Wasps (who went on to win the cup) also played at the Ricoh Arena in the Heineken Cup again against Munster on 10 November 2007 narrowly winning 24-23. Saracens have announced that they will play their semi final against Munster at the arena. The stadium hosted its first ever American football game on 6 May 2007, when the Coventry Cassidy Jets beat then British national champions London Olympians 27-20. The Jets had hoped to play their inaugural EFAF Cup game against Madrid Bears on 29 April but they were forced to change venue. The Heineken Cup the previous week to the Madrid game had led to CCFC objecting in case of damage to the pitch.
The original design for the arena was for a state-of-the-art 45,000 capacity stadium with a retractable roof, and a pitch that could slide out to reveal a hard floor for concerts. After Coventry City's relegation, a number of contractor/financier withdrawals and England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup finals ended in failure, the plans were significantly downsized to reflect new realities.
On Friday 6 October 2006, the Arena hosted its first international football game when the England U-21 team played the German U-21 team in the first leg of a European U21 Championship qualifying play-off. England won the game 1-0, with the winning goal scored by Leighton Baines.
The name comes from a sponsorship deal, rumoured to be worth £10 million over 10 years, with camera and photocopier manufacturer Ricoh, though during construction the stadium was variously referred to as the Jaguar Arena, Arena Coventry and Arena 2000. The sponsorship deal with Ricoh came about after the stadium's initial sponsor, the motor firm Jaguar, was forced to pull-out due to the same financial difficulties that had caused the controversial closure of the large Jaguar assembly plant at the city's Brown's Lane, previously a major source of employment in Coventry.
The Arena is run by Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) and is separate from the running of Coventry City Football Club who are the Arenas first tenants. It was funded largely by Coventry City council & the Higgs Charity, a charity (of which CCFC and ACL director Sir Derek Higgs was a trustee), and includes shopping facilities, a casino, exhibition halls and a concert venue.
At the end of the 2006-2007 Championship season in May 2007, the stadium had still not achieved a capacity 32,600 crowd. In fact, the stadium's highest attendance for a home game had been some 4,000 short of full capacity back in February 2008 during an FA Cup match against West Bromwich Albion. This is partially due to safety restrictions meaning that certain parts of the stadium are not available to fans.
Highfield Road stadium had a 23,600 capacity and was often sold-out in Premiership times, but not Championship era. However, the Ricoh's attendances are low due to the club languishing in the Championship for longer than expected, mainly in mid-table. Most match days see the stadium around 60% full. However, the stadium's capacity was based on Coventry's rapid promotion back to the Premiership (and therefore bigger attendances), which has not yet transpired.
In July-August 2007, the stadium was to host pre-season friendly games against Spanish La Liga side (and 2007 UEFA Cup finalists) Espanyol and Italian Serie A side Udinese in a major coup for the club. The matches ended in a 1-1 draw with Espanyol and a 2-0 loss against the latter.
On 16 February 2008 Coventry suffered their worst defeat at the Ricoh Arena losing 5-0 to West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup. This came at a difficult time for Coventry, just after the dismissal of manager Iain Dowie and the threat of club administration.
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Aug 22, 2005; Byline: By STEPHEN HALLMARK and JAMES McCARTHY firstname.lastname@example.org THE traffic chaos predicted for the Sky Blues' first...
Council Set to Give Ricoh Arena Pounds 1.4m; BUSINESS: Call for Handout after Delay in Getting Facilities Up and Running Hits Company's Trading Plans
Jan 09, 2006; Byline: By Dean Valler and Fiona Scott COVENTRY City Council is about to fork out pounds 1.4 million extra this year on the new...
Ricoh Arena private dinner at the House of Commons; POST PEOPLE: Paul Latham, Live Nation; Daniel Gidney, Ricoh Arena; Lee Dodds, and Conal Dodds, Metropolis Music.(Features)
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