|Map & Directions:|| Multimap.co.uk|
|Telephone:|| (0870) 2200 000|
|Fax:|| (023) 8033 0360|
|Box Office:||(023) 8022 8575|
Southampton had spent over 100 years at their previous home; The Dell when August 2001 they moved to St.Mary's. The need for a larger, all-seater stadium was evidenced by the restricted capacity of only 15,200 at The Dell. Nevertheless, the old ground had been a fortress for the Southampton, and many felt moving away would be to concede the psychological advantage that The Dell had provided.
The option to move had been discussed a regular intervals ever since the FA Cup win in 1976 but a combination of red tape, political in-fighting and lack of funds and a suitable venue conspired to keep the idea on the back burner to the extent that fans began to doubt it would ever happen. It finally got off the ground after the reverse takeover of the club by Secure Retirement in 1996 when the club gained the Stock Market listing it needed to raise real capital.
Work began to clear the site in the autumn of 1999 and by August 2000 the shell of the main stand had suddenly appeared on the site. Despite a winter of bad weather and fuel strikes, the £32m project was finished on time.
The 32,500-seat state-of-the-art stadium staged its first game on August 11 2001 when Espanyol won 4-3 in a pre-season friendly. Two weeks later Chelsea were the visitors for the first Premiership fixture at the Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium and won 2-0 as Saints took time to settle into their new home. A new attendance record of 31,107 was set - but it was to be broken a further six times during the course of the season.
The Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium is a single tier bowl with an official capacity of 32,689 but that includes every seat in the ground - including the 84 in the press box plus the manager's dug-outs! It also includes the 47 executive boxes which each hold 10 people plus all the hospitality seats from the suites named after club greats Matthew Le Tissier, Bobby Stokes, Terry Paine and Mike Channon.
The most vocal supporters made their home in the Northam end where there was a tendency to stand - despite the club's pleas and a clear stance as stated in their policy on standing in seated areas. Even Reserve games drew huge crowds after they were switched back to the Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium. The free admission, encouraged regular four-figure attendances and even saw the gate top 10,000 on one occasion.