ODSAL STADIUM – Rooley venue, Bradford BD6 1BS
Odsal Stadium in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, is the home of Bradford Bulls Rugby League team. It has also been used by the Bradford Dukes speedway team, BRISCA F1 and F2 stock cars, the football team Bradford City, following the Valley Parade fire, and for baseball, basketball, kabbadi, show jumping, tennis, live music and international Rugby League. The stadium's highest attendance was 102,569 in 1954 for the Warrington-Halifax Challenge Cup Final replay, and for a domestic, non-final, Rugby League match, 69,429 at the third round Challenge Cup tie between Bradford Northern and Huddersfield in 1953. The stadium is owned by Bradford City Council, but due to financial problems the Rugby Football League purchased the lease on it in 2012.
The stadium first staged stock car racing in the 1950’s which returned in the 1970’s under former Wrestler, Demolition Contractor Barry Gomersall and then superbly revamped by F1 World Champion Stuart Bamforth in 1977 as a tarmac venue until 1985 when the council invested to bring the Speed World Championships to Odsal in 1985.
Startrax took over at Odsal in 1995 until it’s what was supposed to be temporary closure for the construction of ‘Superdome’ which failed and Rugby League returned only to hit financial problems on several occasions. Startrax has had seven attempts to bring the sport back, the most recent starting in late 2019 after the incumbent Bulls team then went into administration and the stadium laid empty. With the RFL and Bulls, substantial renovation has been invetsed to re open the stadium for Stock cars and Rugby League in May 2021.
With a maximum capacity of 22,000 and 4000+ covered seated grandstand plus considerable Hospitality and Vip facilities combined with it’s ampitheatre and hugely banked terracing, it has a gladiatorial atmosphere. Back in the early fifties Odsal had one of the biggest sports attendance on record of over 102,000
It’s re opening in May 2021 delivers arguably the sports biggest and historic stadiums to the sport in Europe
1933-1935: Construction and opening
Formed in 1907, the Bradford Northern club had played at a number of venues including the Greenfield Athletic Ground in Dudley Hill and Bowling Old Lane Cricket Club's ground in Birch Lane. By the early 1920s, however, Birch Lane's limitations were clear and Northern began to seek another home. Precarious finances prevented the club being able to take up an offer to develop land off Rooley Lane or to upgrade and move back to Greenfield, but in 1933, Bradford City Council gave them the opportunity to transform land at Odsal Top into their home ground. On 20 June 1933 the club therefore signed a ten-year deal on the site, which was to become the biggest stadium in England outside Wembley.
The site was a former quarry which was then being used as a landfill tip. Ernest Call M.B.E., the Director of Cleansing for Bradford City Council devised a system of controlled tipping that saw 140,000 cart loads of household waste deposited to form the characteristic banking at Odsal. The club were to be responsible for boundary fencing, dressing rooms and seated accommodation.
To be able to turf the pitch, and other areas, a turf fund was put into place which raised a total of £900 to cover the work. A stand was erected at the cost of £2,000, which was paid for by the Rugby Football League. It held 1,500 on a mixture of benches and tip-up seats.
The ground was officially opened by Sir Joseph Taylor, President of Huddersfield on 1 September 1934.