Terrace (stadium)

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Terracing at the bottom and seating at the top of a stand at the RheinEnergieStadion in Germany, home of Bundesliga club 1. FC Koln RheinEnergieStadion Koln 011.jpg
Terracing at the bottom and seating at the top of a stand at the RheinEnergieStadion in Germany, home of Bundesliga club 1. FC Köln

A terrace or terracing in sporting terms refers to the standing area of a sports stadium, particularly in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It is a series of concrete steps, with intermittent safety barriers installed at specific locations to prevent an excessive movement of people down its slope.


Terraces carry particular importance in football stadiums, where they have tended to be located in the areas behind the two goals as a cheaper alternative to sitting in the stands which were traditionally located at the sides of the field. As standing on the terraces was cheaper and provided a greater degree of freedom to move and congregate with fellow supporters, over the decades of the 20th century they became the most popular areas for younger working class men and teenage boys to watch the games.

After the Hillsborough disaster and subsequent Taylor report, terraces were banned from football grounds in the top two divisions in England. [1] The report stated that standing areas were not intrinsically unsafe and laid the majority of the blame for the disaster with the police and the stadium itself. [2] Despite that finding, the report made a number of recommendations for the future of football in England including a conversion to all-seater venues which provided a basis for the government ban on terracing. In the 1990s, UEFA banned standing areas for games in its competitions which led to the removal of terraces from many stadiums around Europe, including the Bernabéu and the Stadium of Light. [3] [4]

There is currently a growing demand for the introduction of a hybrid model of terracing/seating to the top divisions of English football, based on several different stadium designs in Germany and other European countries, dubbed "safe standing" areas. [5] Genuine terraces continue to be built in modern Irish stadiums such as Hill 16 in Croke Park, Thomond Park and the redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh. [6]


The Stadion Rote Erde, home of Borussia Dortmund from 1937 to 1974. The Westfalenstadion situated beside it features the largest terrace in Europe. Signal Iduna Park 2013 by-RaBoe 57.jpg
The Stadion Rote Erde, home of Borussia Dortmund from 1937 to 1974. The Westfalenstadion situated beside it features the largest terrace in Europe.

Terracing was common in German football stadiums through most of the 20th century and, in contrast to other major football nations in Europe, has remained so into the 21st century. [7] Despite UEFA's ban on standing areas for European matches, the clubs in Germany refused to permanently remove the terraces from their grounds and maintained their presence in domestic football. [8]


Hill 16 in Croke Park, a modern terrace built in 2004 to replace the old terrace and Nally Stand Hill16.jpg
Hill 16 in Croke Park, a modern terrace built in 2004 to replace the old terrace and Nally Stand

In Ireland, terraces remain a common feature in stadiums hosting Gaelic games, rugby union, association football and other sports.

GAA stadiums that feature terracing include Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, Pearse Stadium in Galway and Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Hill 16 in Croke Park is the biggest terrace in Ireland.

Terracing has been common in rugby stadiums for decades and continues to be included in modern redevelopments of major grounds like Thomond Park and Ravenhill Stadium.

League of Ireland grounds have historically been dominated by terracing, with major stadiums like Dalymount Park and Glenmalure Park featuring at least three sides of terracing for much of their existence. The redevelopment of Tolka Park in the early 1990s reflected the wider move away from terracing to seating in European football stadiums, though terraces were retained in many grounds that underwent a degree of redevelopment.

United Kingdom


In the early days of the twentieth century the terraces were simply earth banks, often built up with the rubble of construction sites. Rows of railways sleepers were laid on top to provide something solid for spectators to stand on.

Most stadiums in Britain at the turn of the century had stands for spectators, but when a wooden stand at Ibrox Park collapsed in the 1902 Ibrox disaster killing many spectators during a Scotland versus England game there was an instant ban on framework supported terraces, which the government ordered must be replaced by solid earthwork supported terracing.

The earth and sleeper terraces would gradually make way for concrete terraces with metal crush barriers being erected at various points to prevent crushing. An excellent example of one such old style terrace can be found at Cathkin Park in Glasgow, an abandoned football stadium, which was home to Third Lanark.


The terraces were hugely popular in England, particularly from the 1920s to the 1980s, and their working class links led them to be given affectionate names by the fans who stood on them. By far the most common name was Spion Kop , named after the Battle of Spion Kop in the Boer War in South Africa in 1902 between Britain and the Boers. Arsenal F.C. were the first to adopt such a name but by far the most famous was the Kop at Liverpool F.C.'s Anfield Road ground. The vast majority of clubs in England and farther afield would go on to regard their most popular end of their stadium as a Kop, even if, in most cases the end had another name, for example the Holte End at Aston Villa F.C.'s Villa Park. The most notable exception to this is Everton F.C., whose close rivalry with city neighbours Liverpool has meant that neither the club nor its fans would ever refer to the ground as having a Kop section.

The advantage of terracing over seating for clubs was obvious, as many more fans could be packed in tightly into very cramped areas, and it is no coincidence that many clubs' all-time attendance records were set in the 1930s and 1940s.


The South Bank terrace at Molineux Molineux Stadium in 1991 - geograph.org.uk - 2796723.jpg
The South Bank terrace at Molineux

Terraces were generally a safe, cheap and enjoyable way to watch sport, but on occasion they could be dangerous too.

In the early days the wet railway sleepers would often lead to falls, which quickly led to their replacement but much worse was to follow when thirty-three people lost their lives in 1946 when an overcrowded terrace led to a crush at Bolton Wanderers F.C.'s Burnden Park ground. That such a disaster only occurred once during this era is amazing as it was common in those days to see a fainted fan being passed down the terraces over the heads of those packed in so they could be treated for their ill effects. But there were perhaps more advantages than disadvantages still. The ground fee was low and achievable for all, the singing and cheering was not rarely astonishing, especially where the huge covered Goal Stands existed. Like the Kop at Anfield Road, Holte End at Villa Park and South Bank Stand at Molineux Ground

By the 1970s the lower cost of travel meant it was easier for fans to have away days, or road trips and a common practice among young visiting fans was to try to "take the terrace". Large bodies of supporters of the visiting team would infiltrate the popular terracing of the home supporters with the result that violence often erupted. This led to crowd segregation at football grounds and also played a small part in the erection of high fencing and segregated pens within most terraces in England.

These pens became a contributing factor in the Hillsborough disaster, England's worst ever stadium disaster, when too many fans entered the central pens at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death against the perimeter fence in the resultant crush.

Although claiming that terraces were not "intrinsically unsafe", the final Taylor Report into the disaster led to a recommendation that terraces be done away with at major British stadiums. Today every major British football ground is all-seater, though terracing is still found at grounds in the lower leagues. Britain's biggest remaining terraced ground is Brunton Park in Carlisle, which still has three sides of terracing.

Crowd disorder

The Warwick Road End, a covered terrace at Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United F.C. Brunton Park Warwick Road End.jpg
The Warwick Road End, a covered terrace at Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United F.C.

It has been argued[ citation needed ] that terraces encourage crowd disorder. However, analysis of statistics on football related arrests and banning orders published by the UK Home Office [9] show that in both the 2008/9 and 2009/10 seasons the rate of arrest per 100,000 supporters was higher at Football League One and Football League Two clubs with all-seated grounds than at those with terraces. [10] Overall arrest rates for football related offences have fallen steadily from 34 per 100,000 in 1988/89 to 9 per 100,000 in 2009/10, however the trend of reducing arrests started before stadia were required to become all-seated and has continued since. [10]

Safe standing

In 2011 the Scottish Premier League announced that their clubs would be given permission to introduce safe standing areas at their grounds. [11] In 2012, Derby County became the first club from the Championship to support the introduction of safe standing areas, although the only terraced standing areas in the Championship and/or Barclays Premiership at that time could be found at London Road, home to Peterborough United. [12] Peterborough United became the second Championship club to back the safe standing campaign through their CEO Bob Symns. Symns also signed the safe standing petition. [13] Indeed, the club's mascot – Peter Burrow – took part in a video campaign promoting safe standing, with the video [14] being shot at the AWD-Arena, home to Hannover 96 in Germany [13]

United States

Terracing was introduced to American football with the inclusion of party decks with the ability to hold 35,000 people at Cowboys Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas. Capacity for Dallas Cowboys games and other American football events is 80,000 seated, expandable to 111,000 with standing areas. [15] [ dead link ] However, these decks are flat, rather than steeply pitched, and are more analogous to standing-room only ticketing where obstruction is expected. The key difference is that unlike at European grounds, party decks are not considered or marketed as areas from which all spectators are afforded a view of the match at all times.

Many seats in FedExField, home of the Washington Football Team, have been removed in favour of terraced party decks. [16] These terraced, standing-room-only sections are similar to safe standing sections in European stadiums, though they are not marketed as such.

Since the 2010s, several Major League Soccer stadiums have opened with or renovated for safe standing. [17] The San Jose Earthquakes opened a Supporters Terrace at Earthquakes Stadium in 2014 with a capacity of 600 people, and was followed by a large-scale safe standing section at Orlando's Exploria Stadium, which opened in 2017. [18] Since then, Banc of California Stadium (LAFC), Allianz Field (Minnesota United FC), and Audi Field (DC United) have opened with safe standing; two existing stadiums, Red Bull Arena (New Jersey) (New York Red Bulls) and Dignity Health Sports Park (LA Galaxy), were also remodeled to support safe standing. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Hillsborough disaster Human crush during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final

The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal human crush during a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, on 15 April 1989. It occurred during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in the two standing-only central pens in the Leppings Lane stand allocated to Liverpool supporters. Shortly before kick-off, in an attempt to ease overcrowding outside the entrance turnstiles, the police match commander David Duckenfield ordered exit gate C opened, leading to an influx of even more supporters to the pens. This led to a crowding in the pens and the crush. With 96 fatalities and 766 injuries, it is the worst disaster in British sporting history.

Hillsborough Stadium Stadium in Sheffield, England

Hillsborough Stadium, is a 39,732-capacity association football stadium located in Owlerton, a north-western suburb of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. It has been the home of Sheffield Wednesday since its opening in 1899.

Anfield Football stadium, home of Liverpool F.C.

Anfield is a football stadium in Anfield, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, which has a seating capacity of 53,394, making it the seventh largest football stadium in England. It has been the home of Liverpool Football Club since their formation in 1892. It was originally the home of Everton from 1884 to 1891, before they moved to Goodison Park after a dispute with the club president.

Ibrox Stadium

Ibrox Stadium is a football stadium on the south side of the River Clyde in the Ibrox area of Glasgow, Scotland. The home of Rangers F.C., Ibrox is the third largest football stadium in Scotland, with an all-seated capacity of 50,817.

The Hillsborough Stadium Disaster Inquiry report is the report of an enquiry which was overseen by Lord Justice Taylor, into the causes of the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989, as a result of which, at the time of the report, 95 Liverpool F.C. fans had died. An interim report was published in August 1989, and the final report was published in January 1990. It sought to establish the causes of the tragedy and make recommendations regarding the provision of safety at sporting events in future.

Valley Parade Football stadium in Bradford, home to Bradford City A.F.C.

Valley Parade, known as the Utilita Energy Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is an all-seater football stadium in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Built in 1886, it was the home of Manningham Rugby Football Club until 1903, when they changed code from rugby football to association football and became Bradford City. It has been Bradford City's home since, although it is now owned by former chairman Gordon Gibb's pension fund. It has also been home to Bradford for one season, and Bradford Bulls rugby league side for two seasons, as well as host to a number of England youth team fixtures.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a Gaelic games stadium in Cork, Ireland. It is the home of Cork GAA. The venue, often referred to simply as The Park, is located in Ballintemple and is built near to the site of the original Cork Athletic Grounds. The stadium opened in 1976 and underwent a significant two-year redevelopment before reopening in 2017.

Spion Kop (stadiums)

Spion Kop is a colloquial name or term for a number of single tier terraces and stands at sports stadiums, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Fratton Park

Fratton Park is an association football ground in the English port city of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. It remains as the original home of Portsmouth F.C., who were founded on 5 April 1898.

Rugby Park

Rugby Park is a football stadium situated in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock. It was first used in 1899 and is the home of Kilmarnock F.C.

Adams Park

Adams Park is an association football stadium in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Built in 1990, it is the home ground of Championship side Wycombe Wanderers. It was also leased from 2002 to 2014 to the rugby union club London Wasps from Aviva Premiership. From the 2003/04 season to the 2005/06 season, the stadium was officially called Causeway Stadium, named after its sponsor Causeway Technologies.

St Andrews (stadium) Football stadium in the Bordesley district of Birmingham

St Andrew's, officially known since June 2018 for sponsorship reasons as St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium, is an association football stadium in the Bordesley district of Birmingham, England. It has been the home ground of Birmingham City Football Club for more than a century. It has also been used as Coventry City's home ground since the 2019–20 season.

Páirc Uí Rinn, also known as Páirc Chríostóir Uí Rinn, is a Gaelic Athletic Association stadium located between Ballinlough and Ballintemple in Cork. It was previously known as Flower Lodge and was used as an association football stadium. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Flower Lodge served as the home ground of three League of Ireland clubs – Cork Hibernians, Albert Rovers and Cork City. It also hosted friendly matches featuring Manchester United, Liverpool and the Republic of Ireland national football team. In 1989 it was purchased by Cork GAA and subsequently renamed after Christy Ring, a former Cork and Glen Rovers hurler. During the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, Páirc Uí Rinn has served as Cork GAA's second home after Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It regularly hosts National Hurling League, National Football League, National Camogie League and All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship fixtures.

All-seater stadium

An all-seater stadium is a sports stadium in which every spectator has a seat. This is commonplace in professional association football stadiums in nations such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and the Netherlands. Most association football and American football stadiums in the United States and Canadian Football League stadiums in Canada are all-seaters, as are most baseball and track and field stadiums in those countries. A stadium that is not an all-seater has areas for attendees holding standing-room only tickets to stand and view the proceedings. Such standing areas are known as terraces in Britain. Stands with only terraces used to dominate the football attendance in the UK. For instance, the South Bank Stand behind the southern goal at Molineux Stadium, home of Wolverhampton Wanderers, had a maximum of 32,000 standing attenders, while the rest of the stadium hosted a little bit less than that; the total maximum attendance was around 59,000.

Racecourse Ground Welsh football stadium

The Racecourse Ground in Wrexham, north Wales, is the home of Wrexham A.F.C..

Glanford Park

Glanford Park, currently known as The Sands Venue Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is a football stadium in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England, and is the current home of Scunthorpe United.

Blundell Park

Blundell Park is a football ground in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, England and home to Grimsby Town Football Club. The stadium was built in 1899, but only one of the original stands remains. The current capacity of the ground is 9,052, after being made all-seater in summer 1995, reducing the number from around 27,000. Several relegations in previous years meant the expansion seating was also taken away; that reduced the capacity further from around 12,000 to what it is now.

Prenton Park

Prenton Park is an association football stadium in Birkenhead, England. It is the home ground of Tranmere Rovers, as well as Liverpool's women and reserves teams. The ground has had several rebuilds, with the most recent occurring in 1995 in response to the requirement of the Taylor Report to become all-seater. Today's stadium holds 15,573 in four stands: the Kop, the Johnny King Stand, the Main Stand and the Cowshed.

Saltergate Recreation Ground

Saltergate, officially the Recreation Ground, was the historic home of Chesterfield Football Club, and was in use from 1871 until the club's relocation in July 2010, a 139-year history that made it one of the oldest football grounds in England at the time of its closure. The name 'Saltergate' became predominant in popular usage from the 1920s.

Safe standing

Safe standing is a measure of design in stadia to ensure that spectators are able to stand safely during events. It is important in the context of association football in the United Kingdom, where a series of fatal incidents led to legislation requiring major clubs to develop all-seater stadiums during the 1990s. Since then, fan groups have campaigned against the ban on standing accommodation, arguing that new design options would allow designated standing areas to be built in compliance with all safety laws and guidelines. As these options are outlawed in England and Wales, safe standing in practice originated in continental Europe, primarily Germany. This occurred because although UEFA and FIFA required all-seater stadiums for international competition, it was not mandatory for domestic matches.


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