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City DNA #117: The place we call home

City DNA #117: The place we call home
Home, sweet home.

Witnessing thousands of majestic, marvellous and unimaginable moments, the Etihad Stadium – Manchester City Football Club’s magnificent home – has played host to some of our most treasured memories for the past 17 years.

City moved into the then-named City of Manchester Stadium in August 2003, following an illustrious 80-year stay at the beloved Maine Road.

Our new venue – a 38,000 capacity arena built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games – was converted to a 48,000-seater stadium ahead of City’s 2003/04 campaign with Kevin Keegan at the helm, having guided the Club’s stay and return to the top flight.

With a dazzling brand of football crafted by some of the most exciting and talented players ever to don the shirt, a new and thrilling era unfolded for the Club both on and off the pitch.

Manchester was buzzing.

Breathing new life into the East area of the city (and that was just the beginning!), the Stadium’s innovative and inclusive design earned acclaim from the Institution of Structural Engineers in 2003 and Royal Institute of British Architects in 2004, and has since also earned praise for its commitment to the environment, sustainability and accessibility.

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And my, has it savoured its fair share of silverware on the pitch?!

The City of Manchester Stadium (also known as ‘COMS’ or affectionately: ‘Eastlands’) made its footballing debut with the friendly visit of Spanish giants Barcelona in August 2003.

Who knew then we’d lock horns again with the European giants in the Champions League knock-out stages 11 years later?

On that day in the summer of 2003, City emerged 2-1 victors, thanks to goals from Nicolas Anelka and Trevor Sinclair – both also on the scoresheet in the ground’s first competitive fixture: a 5-0 thrashing of Total Network Solutions (TNS) in a UEFA Cup first-leg qualifier.

Yet, even the most optimistic Blue wouldn’t have imagined beyond their wildest dreams the scenes that would unfold eight years, nine months and three days later in May 2012!

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Equally, they probably wouldn’t have anticipated a season with just ten home goals scored (with three of those in one game!), a scintillating comeback win over Bayern Munich, or a night when we’d beat Manchester United to edge closer to our first Premier League title!

Remarkable victories, incredible fightbacks, stunning goals, moments of magic, iconic nights under the lights… the Stadium has seen it all!

Who could forget those sensational clashes with Queens Park Rangers, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Hamburg…? The list goes on.

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The ground has even entertained international fixtures – the 2008 UEFA Cup Final and England men’s and women’s games – before gaining its iconic status as 'the Etihad Stadium' in July 2011.

That summer, the Club and Etihad Airways announced a ten-year partnership, which included naming rights for the Stadium and Campus, kit sponsorship and even the launch of twice-daily flights between Manchester and Abu Dhabi.

Fittingly, the 2011/12 season would climax with one of the most glorious moments in Club and Premier League history, as City lifted the trophy for the first time the following May with that unforgettable ‘Aguerooooooooooo’ moment – and the Stadium has proudly housed the Champions of English football four times since.

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Mirroring the Club’s success on the pitch, expansions were implemented off it too. In August 2015, the Stadium unveiled its redevelopment of the South Stand with a 7,000-seat third tier added to increase the overall capacity to 55,000.

It isn’t only football that has had the Etihad bouncing. Over the years, it has hosted summer concerts – welcoming Oasis, Stone Roses, Take That, One Direction, Beyonce, Muse, the Spice Girls and more – plus rugby fixtures (league and union), a boxing world title fight and some spectacular hospitality events.

The beginning of the 2017/18 campaign marked the launch of the award-winning Tunnel Club – a premium hospitality offering with unrivalled backstage access, truly immersing fans into the game.

With such incredible facilities and now adorned with CITY, Etihad and PUMA branding, the Stadium looks sleeker and more beautiful than ever before.

While sadly, special moments are unable to be celebrated by fans as before with games to be played behind-closed-doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, bring on those glory days of rocking stadiums, charged with electric atmospheres once again.

Roll on the joy of more treasured memories.

There’s no place like home.

                        City DNA #117: The place we call home

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