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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 26 May, 2018

10 things you didn’t know about the Millennium Stadium

Did you know that it costs £2.54 every time the stadium’s retractable roof is opened? No? Neither did we.

Image: Andrew Matthews/EMPICS Sport

TODAY AT 16:55, Leinster and Northampton Saints will scurry out from their dressing rooms to battle for the Heineken Cup.

Such an historic and epic tie demands a stadium with appropriate magnitude for the occasion. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is exactly that.

Since completion in 1999, the Millennium Stadium has played host to some monumental sporting occasions and has quite a story to tell.

Here are 10 things you may not know about the Millennium Stadium.

1. #FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS This Saturday’s game will be the fourth Heineken Cup Final played at the Millennium Stadium. Each final has hosted an Irish team, however Munster are far more accustomed to finals in Cardiff then their blue neighbours. In 2002 Leicester beat Munster in the first final at the Stadium. However the reds would have their day, defeating Biarritz and Toulouse in the 2006 and 2008 finals respectively.

2. #THE PRICE IS RIGHT The total construction cost of the stadium was £121 million. The construction project ran between 1997 and 1999, on the site of the old National Stadium, and 56,000 tonnes of concrete and steel went into creating the stadium.

3. #SAFETY IN NUMBERS Since opening in June 1999, the Millennium Stadium has welcomed, on average, over 1.3 million visitors per year. And huge numbers will be expected once more on Saturday.

4. #RAISE THE ROOF When drawing up the Stadium plans, it was decided that it should have a roof to accommodate a requirement for multi-usage. The retractable roof was the first of its kind in the UK and the second in Europe. The only other retractable roof in Europe at the time was the Amsterdam Arena, home of Ajax Football Club. There are 200,000 nuts and bolts in the roof and every time it is opened it costs £2.54. It takes 20 minutes to open.

5. #STAR PERFORMER The Millennium Stadium boasts a UEFA 5* rating and has hosted matches from two Rugby World Cups, including the Final in 1999. It has also hosted six FA Cup Finals, seven League Cup Finals as well as several major rock concerts.

6. #GOING FOR GOLD The Millennium Stadium will also take part in the London 2012 Olympics, as a host venue for the football competition.

7. #FULL HOUSE The Stadium can hold up to 74,500 spectators.

8. #UNFINISHED BUSINESS With the construction only three-quarters complete, the Millennium Stadium hosted its first match in June 1999. Wales recorded their first ever victory over South Africa on a 29 -19 scoreline.

9. #THE BALL IS ROUND The Stadium had to wait until the summer of 2000 for its first soccer game. Jari Litmanen of Finland scored the first goal at the venue, while Ryan Giggs got the first Welsh goal in a 2-1 friendly defeat for the home side.

10. #HISTORY The FA Community Shield in 2001 between Manchester United and Liverpool becomes the first football match played under a closed roof in Britain.

Read more of’s coverage of the 2011 Heineken Cup >

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About the author:

Mark Corcoran

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