On 9 July 1867, “a group of gentlemen met for the purpose of starting a football team”. The Queen’s Park Football Club was born. It soon became a leading exponent of the game and was one of the founder members of the (English) Football Association as well as its Scottish counterpart. It regularly provided the Scottish players in the earliest international matches. Proud of its amateur status, and showing a confidence in the game’s future, the Club’s general committee in 1903 purchased 33 acres of land on the south side of Glasgow and built the largest and most technically advanced stadium in the world, Hampden Park.
It was immediately adopted as Scotland’s National Stadium and became a Mecca for clubs and international players everywhere. Its natural bowl shape and extensive terraces sustained attendances of around 150,000. In those days, crowd control was less stringent than now. Amongst the records are:
1937 : attendance 149,415 Home International : Scotland v England
1937 :attendance 146,433 Scottish Cup Final : Celtic v Aberdeen
1970 : attendance 136,505 European Cup Semi-Final : Celtic v Leeds United
Arguably the most memorable European Cup Final, Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt, was held at Hampden in May 1960 with Real winning 7-3. Over 130,000 Scottish supporters were spellbound.
Whilst fulfilling its role as the National Stadium, Hampden has remained the home of Queen’s Park who, despite the amateur status, play in the senior, national, leagues. Six other senior clubs including Queen’s Park at one time had Glasgow as their home base. That total is now four. The best known, perhaps, are Rangers and Celtic playing at Ibrox Stadium and Celtic Park respectively. Glasgow, with its industrial history in ship building and heavy engineering has always had a fervent love of the game at club and international level.
As with all great architectural feats, time proved an enemy for the Stadium. As elsewhere, the owners and operators appeared unaware of the changes in the game and in society generally. The facilities remained unaltered at a time when, arguably, most clubs could have afforded to implement change enhancing the safety and comfort of spectators, players and officials.
In the mid-1970s, however, it became clear that Hampden required major rebuilding and refurbishment. At that time, only the main South Stand was covered and seated. Elsewhere, spectators stood exposed to the vagaries of the Scottish weather. Concourses, washrooms, kiosks, medical services, media facilities, players’ changing rooms, hospitality areas and emergency service provision reflected the Stadium’s past, not the status it still claimed as a leading international venue. Attempts were made to draw together funding packages to support redevelopment programmes but, for various reasons, none was successful.
In later years, the disasters at football stadia at Heysel, Sheffield and Bradford highlighted the deficiencies and brought change through a pincer movement of directives from football’s World and European governing bodies and from national governments. Stadia had to be upgraded to provide safe and comfortable accommodation. Overdue, perhaps, but a new era was opening.
The task of rebuilding Hampden began in 1990 with the formation of the National Stadium Committee, formed with representatives of the Club (Queen’s Park) and the Scottish football authorities. It was charged with examining and addressing the means of drawing together the financial package to rebuild the National Stadium on its current site. At the time, other sites, in out-of-town locations, were identified and proposed by developers and local authorities. None of these schemes proved sustainable. In media debate, the general public and former players regarded Hampden as the spiritual home of football and wanted to retain it as the National Stadium.
The National Stadium Committee set about its task. It drew together £12 million of funding to upgrade the North and East Stands, carry out external landscaping, improve car parking provision and provide hospitality lounges. These elements of work were completed in February 1994 and the Stadium hosted a full international match, Scotland v The Netherlands. Thereafter, the challenge was to complete the outstanding The vision of the new Hampden was emerging; not a replacement of the old but a new structure with facilities to match the aspirations of a new Millennium and future generations of sports participants, spectators, viewers, business and commerce. The story was told; the vision of the venue and its adjacent sites was shared with others. The process of drawing together the funding had started.
The next phase was the rebuilding of the South Stand and the redevelopment of the West Stand. This was completed in May 1999 at a cost of £59 million. The original budget of £51 million was exceeded by £8 million (15.7%).
The Millennium Commission provided funding of £24.2 million, which was very much appreciated although less than many other national projects received.
The new South Stand (with seating for 17,000 spectators) opened in May 1999 with a Festival of Football followed by the Scottish Cup Final.
Queen’s Park, who still own the Stadium, are the only Amateur Club playing in the Scottish Football League and are currently in Division 2.
The Stadium was leased to the Scottish Football Association and has been operated by Hampden Park Limited since April 2000. It is an initial 20-year lease with a further 20-year option.
The Stadium Capacity is currently 52,000.
The East Stand has been redeveloped to improve supporter facilities, extending internal concourses and improving entry and exit routes. The work was completed on time and on budget.
The Stadium is graded as a Five Star stadium by UEFA. The only other ground in Scotland that has Five Star status is Ibrox.
In addition to football matches, the Stadium hosts a series of events including concerts, American Football and large outdoor meetings. The Lounges in the South Stand offer a wide range of facilities for conferences, exhibitions, meetings, receptions, dinners and lunches.
Hampden is now seen as an ideal venue with its convenient access and ample car parking.
Hampden Park is a stadium to be proud of - it provides a home for the Scotland team, a neutral venue for semi-finals and finals, and a first-class facility for a wide range of events.