The Millennium Stadium, since 2016 named for sponsorship purposes as the Principality Stadium, is the national stadium of Wales, located in Cardiff. It is the home of the Wales national rugby union team and has also staged games of the Wales national football team. Initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it has gone on to host many other large-scale events, such as the Tsunami Relief concert, the Super Special Stage of Wales Rally Great Britain, the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain and various music concerts. It also hosted six FA Cup finals and several other high-profile football fixtures while Wembley Stadium was being redeveloped.
The stadium is owned by Millennium Stadium plc, a subsidiary company of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). The stadium was designed by a team led by architects Bligh Lobb Sports Architecture. WS Atkins were the structural engineers, and the building contractor was Laing. The total construction cost of the stadium was Â£121 million, of which the Millennium Commission funded Â£46 million.
The Millennium Stadium opened in June 1999 and its first major event was an international rugby union match on 26 June 1999, when Wales beat South Africa in a test match by 29â€“19 before a crowd of 29,000. With a total seating capacity of 74,500, it is the third-largest stadium in the Six Nations Championship behind the Stade de France and Twickenham. It is also the second-largest stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof and was the second stadium in Europe to have this feature. Listed as a category four stadium by UEFA, the stadium was chosen as the venue for the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final, which took place on 3 June 2017. In 2015, the Welsh Rugby Union announced a 10-year sponsorship deal with the Principality Building Society that saw the stadium renamed as the "Principality Stadium" from early 2016.
From 2000 to 2011, the stadium was the almost-permanent home of Welsh football. The national team played the vast majority of home matches at the Millennium Stadium, with a handful of friendly matches once or twice a year at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham or Liberty Stadium, Swansea. The first Welsh football game at the stadium was played against Finland in 2000, and drew a then-record home crowd for Welsh football of over 66,000. This has since been beaten on several occasions. However, since 2011, the majority of home games have been played at the smaller Cardiff City Stadium, the home of Cardiff City.
The stadium became notorious for an apparent "away team hoodoo"; the first 11 major cup finals were all won by the teams occupying the home dressing room. Stoke City beat Brentford 2â€“0 in 2002 to end the "hoodoo", after Paul Darby carried out a feng shui blessing.
Liverpool were the first team to win the FA Cup at the Millennium Stadium in 2001 after beating Arsenal 2â€“1. Liverpool also won the last FA Cup Final to be played at the Millennium Stadium in 2006, beating West Ham United 3â€“1 in a penalty shoot-out that followed a 3â€“3 draw after extra time in what was billed as 'the best cup final of the modern era'.
The Football League Third Division play-offs in 2003 saw AFC Bournemouth beat Lincoln City 5â€“2. In this game, Bournemouth set a new record for the most goals scored by one team in a single match at the stadium. This record has since been matched but not beaten. The last domestic cup match played was when Doncaster Rovers beat Bristol Rovers 3â€“2 after extra time in the Football League Trophy Final on 1 April 2007.
In 2001, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) confirmed that they had bid to host the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final. The stadium had recently been rated as a five-star stadium by UEFA, making it one of the favourites to host the match, but the final was eventually awarded to Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.