Number Five – Stade De France, Paris.
Officially opened in 1998, the national stadium for France can hold up to 81,338 sports fans. Mainly used for football, it does have claim to holding the 2007 Rugby World Cup Final. Costing €290 million to build, the Stade De France is home to 172 executive suites. Although a fairly recent build, it lacks underground heating – a problem that lead to the cancellation of the Ireland v France rugby match in 2012. Stade De France boasts the two largest LED screens in any stadium in Europe. Sporting events aren’t the only feature on the stadium’s programme, it also hosts many different live concerts. Bands who have previously played include; The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Madonna, Rihanna, Muse, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Metallica, Johnny Hallyday, Prince, The Black Eyed Peas, U2, AC/DC, Andre Rieu and George Michael.
Number Four – Twickenham Stadium, London.
Otherwise known as ‘The Home Of English Rugby’, Twickenham evolved from a cabbage patch, all the way back in 1909. It’s come a long way – it can now seat 82,000 spectators. It also offers guided tours, two rugby stores and a rugby museum. There are also fabulous Rugby Union Hospitality Packages available (see resource box). Although it only makes number four on our list, it is the largest stadium in the world devoted SOLELY to rugby. Although rugby is the only sport played here, Twickenham is annually rented out to the worldwide convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It also boasts a huge collection of musicians who have graced its stage; Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Genesis, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Eagles, Richard Benson and R.E.M.
Number Three – Croke Park, Dublin.
Croke Park is officially home to Gaelic Games, it’s the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Boasting a capacity of 82,300, it’s largest crowd was actually recorded at 90,556. It has seen a few major musical tour through its doors including; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Westlife, Celine Dion, U2, Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi and Neil Diamond. Up until 31st March 2012, Croke held the world record for the highest attendance (82,208) for a club rugby union game. Croke Park has its own merchandise shop as well as its own museum on site, however is no longer holding any rugby matches.
Number Two – Stadium Australia, Sydney.
Originally built for the 2000s Olympics, Stadium Australia could hold 110,000. This number has now been reduced to 83,500, making it number two on our list. Called home by many Sydney rugby teams, it also hosted the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup final. Since it’s opening in 1999, over 17 million people have visited. Due to its modern build, its specifically engineered to host rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules, football and cricket. The ANZ cost a staggering A$690 million to complete. Most recently, international cricket has been added to its repertoire with a Twenty20 match between Australia and India on 1 February 2012.
Number One – Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne.
The oldest stadium on the list, MCG was built in 1853. It’s regarded as the birthplace of test cricket and Australian football. It can hold up to 100,018 spectators, making it the largest stadium in Australia and the tenth largest in the world. Pre-health and safety legislation, 130,000 people crammed themselves into the arena in 1959 for a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade. The 2006 redevelopment of the North Stand alone cost $445,000,000. Outside the entrance of the MCG there is a Parade Of Champions – made up of statues of famous Australian athletes. There is also the National Museum of Sport on site. Many superstars have performed here, including Madonna, U2, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones and The Police, and even Pope John Paul II held a mass when he visited Melbourne in 1986. Other sporting spectacles that have been held there include Australian World Cup soccer qualifiers, rugby league home and away matches and State of Origin as well as Bledisloe Cup rugby union clashes.