UK Leasing

A look back at life before the construction of the Madejski stadium in Reading

Our photos show the start of construction of the stadium, now called Select Car Leasing Stadium

Earlier this year, it was announced that Reading FC’s Madejski Stadium will be changing its name for the first time since its construction.

The arena is now called the Select Car Leasing Stadium and remains a great place to watch football almost a quarter of a century after it was built.

The stadium opened in 1998, which means there will now be fans who attend Royals games and have no idea what the land will be used for before the stadium is built.

READ MORE: The Oracle of Reading opens in 1999

The answer to what was on the South Reading site is not much.

Then President Sir John Madejski bought a former Reading Borough Council landfill for the princely sum of £ 1.

This was on condition that the club pay for an access road to the stadium from the A33.

Work began on the stadium in 1997, when the Royals were still playing at run-down but much-loved Elm Park.

Reading was actually relegated that year and even lost the last game at Elm Park 1-0 to Norwich City.

The stadium opened the following year and the first game saw the Royals beat Luton Town 3-0.

We scoured our archives for photographs when it was first announced that the Royals would be having a new stadium in 1996 and other photos of the artwork when it was built in 1997 and 1998.

Fans might remember some really horrible traffic problems when the stadium opened, as well as some not so good football.

The stadium can hold 24,161 people and while the crowds in 2021 don’t fill it very often, in the Premier League seasons between 2005 and 2007 and 2012/13 the pitch was full for most games.

The stadium also once held the record, which has now been broken, for the largest appearance in a Premiership rugby union match, 23,709, for the London Irish against the Wasps in 2008.

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