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Celebrating 25 years of Wales’ iconic Principality Stadium

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the official opening of Cardiff’s iconic Millennium Stadium, now known as the Principality Stadium. Since its grand opening on 26 June 1999, the stadium has become a defining feature of the Welsh capital’s skyline, particularly recognised for its distinctive white masts.

Originally constructed to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the stadium replaced the National Stadium of Wales, which had a capacity of only 53,000. The conversion to an all-seater venue would have further reduced capacity to 47,500. The National Stadium was also obscured by neighbouring buildings and had limited access, prompting the need for a new, more accessible venue.

The first major event at the Millennium Stadium was a historic rugby match on its opening day, 26 June 1999, when Wales triumphed over South Africa 29-19, marking their first victory over the Springboks. Since then, the stadium has hosted an array of prestigious sporting events, including Six Nations Grand Slam showdowns, FA Cup finals, World title boxing bouts, a Rugby World Cup final, and a Champions League final.

With a seating capacity of 74,500, which can be increased with additional seating, the stadium holds the record attendance of 74,576, set during Wales’ 30-15 victory over Scotland in 2008. It is the second-largest stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof and the largest rugby stadium with this feature.

In September 2022, the American professional wrestling promotion WWE hosted a pay-per-view (PPV) at the stadium, the biggest UK WWE event since 1992.

Beyond sports, the stadium has been a premier venue for some of the biggest names in the music industry, hosting concerts by the Rolling Stones, Madonna, the Spice Girls, Beyoncé, and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

The stadium also boasts some unique features. Each of its bars is equipped with ‘joy machines’ capable of pouring 12 pints in less than 20 seconds. During a Wales vs France match, 63,000 fans consumed a staggering 77,184 pints of beer. Additionally, the stadium employs a resident hawk named ‘Dad’ to keep seagulls and pigeons at bay.

As the stadium celebrates its silver anniversary, it continues to be a cornerstone of both sporting and cultural life in Cardiff, embodying the city’s spirit and resilience.