Murrayfield Stadium (known as BT Murrayfield Stadium for sponsorship reasons, or usually just known as Murrayfield) is a sports stadium located in the west end of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Its all-seater capacity was recently reduced from 67,800 to 67,144 to incorporate the largest permanent “big screens” in the country, though it remains the largest stadium in Scotland and the 6th largest in the United Kingdom.
The stadium is the home of the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), and is primarily used as a venue for rugby union and hosts most of Scotland’s home test matches, the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup final, as well as Pro12 and Heineken Cup matches.
Although mainly a rugby union stadium, Murrayfield has in the past hosted American football, rugby league and association football matches and music concerts. One of the most notable of the latter was the Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push concert as part of Live 8.
The SRU identified 19 acres of land at Murrayfield, purchasing this from Edinburgh Polo Club at Murrayfield, having raised money through debentures. A stand and three embankments were constructed, which took two years. Previous internationals had been played at Inverleith.On 21 March 1925 England were the first team to visit Murrayfield, with 70,000 people watching Scotland beat them to win their first Five Nations Championship Grand Slam.
During the Second World War the ground at Murrayfield was offered to the nation and was taken over by the Royal Army Service Corps and used as a supply depot. During the war years the armed forces sports authorities managed to arrange two Scotland v. England services internationals each year, on a home-and-away basis. Scotland’s home matches were played at Inverleith for the first two years with a return to Murrayfield in 1944 after that ground’s derequisition.
Murrayfield’s record attendance of 104,000 was set on 1 March 1975 when Scotland defeated Wales 12–10 during the 1975 Five Nations Championship. This attendance stood as a world record until 1999.
In October 1991 another debenture scheme was launched, to finance a more comprehensive redevelopment of the West Stand. In 1994, Murrayfield completed a £50-million renovation where floodlights were installed for the first time.
In October 2012, SRU chief executive Mark Dodson told the BBC that it was actively seeking a name sponsor for Murrayfield:
The single biggest piece of our inventory is our national stadium. We would like to see if we can monetise that. It would be crazy for us not to look at using our single biggest piece of inventory to drive revenue. We want to get the right price for it.
In addition, Dodson indicated that the SRU was actively seeking a site for a completely new stadium with a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 as a future home for Edinburgh Rugby. The pitch was damaged by nematodes in the lead up to the 2013 autumn internationals. This led the SRU to replace the grass with a Desso surface from the start of the 2014 season. A naming rights deal with BT was agreed in May 2014, resulting in the stadium being officially named as the BT Murrayfield Stadium.
Murrayfield is used for most Scottish international rugby union matches, with all Scotland’s Six Nations home games being played in the stadium. The stadium also hosts Edinburgh Rugby, one of Scotland’s two professional sides in the Pro12 that features teams from Ireland, Wales and Italy. (For Pro12 matches, only the lower tier of the West Stand is typically used.) From 2007 to 2011, Murrayfield hosted the Edinburgh 7s, then the final event in the annual IRB Sevens World Series in rugby sevens, but that tournament was moved to Glasgow starting in 2012 due to low attendance. Murrayfield hosted select matches from the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The stadium also hosted the Heineken Cup Final in 2005, when Toulouse beat Stade Français 18–12, and again in 2009, with Leinster defeating Leicester 19–16.
Although a union stadium, Murrayfield hosted the Rugby League Challenge Cup Finals of 2000 and 2002. The stadium hosted rugby league’s Super League Magic Weekend in 2009, taking over from the Millennium Stadium. The record for a rugby league attendance at the stadium is 67,247 for the 2000 Challenge Cup Final.
Murrayfield has also hosted football matches. Local Scottish Premier League side Heart of Midlothian F.C. (Hearts) started using Murrayfield as their home venue for their European campaign in the 2004–05 season as Tynecastle did not meet the UEFA criteria.Competitive matches against Sporting Braga,Ferencvaros, Schalke, AEK Athens, Siroki Brijeg and Sparta Prague have been played at Murrayfield. This practice has since stopped, however, as Hearts made adjustments to ensure that Tynecastle complies with UEFA regulations.Additionally, both Hearts and Hibernian have played preseason friendlies against FC Barcelona at Murrayfield. Almost 58,000 people attended to watch Hearts play FC Barcelona, recording the largest crowd at a football match in Edinburgh for 51 years. In 2014 Glasgow club Celtic played two qualifying matches at the stadium due to Celtic Park being unavailable because of Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games.
Murrayfield was a candidate to replace Hampden as the national football arena for the early parts of Scotland’s UEFA Euro 2016 Qualification Campaign due to Hampden’s renovation for the Commonwealth Games. However, it was decided that one of the two stadiums in Glasgow would be used.
Murrayfield has played host to American football and was one of two home venues for the now defunct Scottish Claymores in the NFL Europa between 1995 and 2004, the other being Hampden Park in Glasgow. Additionally, it hosted World Bowl ’96 on 23 June 1996. It has been mentioned as a potential future host site for the NFL International Series, should the National Football League add future games outside the series’ current permanent home, Wembley Stadium in London.
On 30 June 1996, Tina Turner played at Murrayfield as part of her Wildest Dreams Tour. In September 1997 U2 played at Murrayfield as part of their Popmart Tour. In June 1999, The Rolling Stones played at Murrayfield on their Bridges to Babylon Tour. In July 2005, Murrayfield hosted the final Live 8 concert, Edinburgh 50,000 – The Final Push, with performances from the likes of James Brown, Texas and The Proclaimers. Oasis played a sold-out show on 17 June 2009, as part of their world tour. This was the last time they would play a concert in Scotland and the second time they had played the stadium, the first being on their Standing on the Shoulder of Giants Tour in 2000. Bon Jovi performed at the stadium on 22 June 2011 as part of their tour. Madonna performed to a sell-out crowd of 52,160 on 21 July 2012 as part of her MDNA Tour. On 3 June 2014, One Direction performed to over 64,000 fans at Murrayfield as part of their Where We Are Stadium Tour. Foo Fighters performed at Murrayfield Stadium as part of their Sonic Highways World Tour on 8 September 2015. The band were originally suppose to play Murrayfield on 23 June 2015 but this was cancelled and rescheduled after Dave Grohl broke his foot at European Festival that same month.