Parc y Scarlets sets the standard
November 15, 2008, was a key date in the development of Welsh rugby as the professional era gathers pace.
It was the day that the first game of rugby was played at Parc y Scarlets, the nation's newest and most high-tech stadium.
Fittingly, this first match featured two of Wales' most traditional sporting rivals - Llanelli RFC and Cardiff RFC - who went head-to-head with the home side proudly topping the Principality Welsh Premiership.
The stadium produces a powerful “wow” factor amongst those who visit.
Scarlets construction director Mike Carr said: “It’s a stunning arena. The design and build quality are of the highest standard and the way the crowd are right on top of the rugby means a brilliant atmosphere.”
The stadium started to rise in February and is a partnership between the Scarlets and Carmarthenshire County Council. Built by Andrew Scott Limited, it hosted its first Scarlets game on November 28, a Magners League clash with Munster.
The ground replaced Stradey Park, the home of Llanelli rugby for almost 130 years. The stadium complex includes high-tech facilities for matchday supporters and for non-matchday revenue generation. It has a training barn and a training pitch with athletics track, with a strong accent on community use.
The ground's name celebrates the rugby region’s unrivalled heritage and is a tribute to its passionate supporters and local community.
The decision not to sell the stadium naming rights to a commercial partner was a bold one which reflects the region’s commitment to make the stadium a celebration of the Scarlets’ past and future.
Derek Quinnell and Phil Bennett are among the legends to have their names linked to special lounges at Parc y Scarlets.
The stadium’s red seating has “Scarlets”, "Sosban" and “West is Best” picked out in white. The West Stand is for families.
Quinnell said: “It’s important that we retain powerful links to our great traditions. The club’s had great players and great administrators and it’s important that we don’t forget that.”
Bennett said: “This is a ground all about the rugby and the people. We’re traditionally a working class town and the supporters have been wonderful over the years. The name gives them an identity.”
Scarlets managing director Gareth Davies said: “The stadium is for our rugby region and supporters to enjoy and to take pride in. Our identity as Scarlets is so crucial to our success. It celebrates our independence and our passion. It’s fundamental to our aim to create a cathedral of regional rugby. With sosbans on the posts, this stadium is distinctly Scarlets in heart and soul.”
Parc y Scarlets Fact File
Parc y Scarlets is the new home of Welsh rugby region, The Scarlets and Llanelli RFC and is located in the Pemberton area of Llanelli just a few miles from the town centre.
The stadium is a joint venture partnership between Carmarthenshire Council and The Scarlets.
The handover of the stadium to the council and Scarlets took place early November 2008 ahead of the first rugby game in the new facility on November 15.
The capacity in the stadium, including the terrace area, is 14,870. The stadium can extend to a full capacity of 15,180 with the placement of tiered temporary seating in front of the Link Telecom East Stand when required for bigger matches.
Rare for new stadia, there is a terrace area in front of the Gravells North Stand for those who specifically want to stand; as requested by the Scarlets Supporters Trust. This area can hold 1,780.
There are four stands – the largest of which is the Castell Howell South Stand which hosts extensive hospitality facilities and has a seating capacity of 5,748. The Gravells North and Castell Howell South stands run alongside the length of the pitch. They have a horseshoe curvature to allow for better views.
Stadium construction was by Andrew Scott Ltd, one of Wales’ leading construction and civil engineering companies, over a 10-month build period. Managing director Mike Grindle said: “This was 2008's most prestigious Welsh construction contract. Thanks to the efforts of the Scarlets and Carmarthenshire County Council, rugby fans will experience one of the finest new grounds in the UK.”
Stadium design was provided by specialist sports stadia architects The Miller Partnership, whose designs include Murrayfield.
Structural steelwork for the development was provided by Rowecord Engineering Ltd, Newport.
The Castell Howell South Stand is the largest stand with capacity of 5,748. The Gravells North Stand holds 4,402 with terrace area for supporters who prefer to stand to watch on match days. The Link Telecom East Stand holds 2,095 spectators and the KL Plant West stand holds another 2,095.
Facilities at Parc y Scarlets include:
On the ground floor of the south stand - a traditional pub, a large welcome foyer, a Scarlets shop and museum, media facilities plus team areas including players’ gym and cardio studio, physiotherapy/medical treatment rooms, changing facilities, home and away dressing rooms, players restaurant and coaching staff offices.
The first floor includes large eating and drinking areas for all supporters.
The second floor has a main entertainment lounge that comfortably seats 350. Matchday sees it used by match sponsors and members of the Scarlets Business Club. On other days it is used for functions such as conferences and wedding receptions.
The top floor has 15 hospitality boxes, a lounge for main sponsors and a lounge for debenture holders. The whole of this tier has panoramic pitchside windows along with high-spec indoor and outdoor seating.
The complex includes an indoor training barn and associated changing rooms, a training pitch, athletics track, car parking and access. These facilities will be open to the community for use year round.
The Scarlets decided not to sell the naming rights for the stadium in favour of maintaining the region’s great heritage and tradition by calling the stadium Parc y Scarlets
The Scarlets also pay tribute to the region’s celebrated legends in key parts of the ground.
- The main partners lounge is The Carwyn James sponsors lounge
- The debentures lounge is The Phil Bennett lounge
- The Business Club lounge is The Quinnell lounge (in tribute to the whole rugby family)
- The museum is The Ken Jones Museum
- The pub on the south stand's ground floor is The Delme Thomas.
- The 15 hospitality boxes are named after Scarlets greats - Ray Williams, Andy Hill, Albert Jenkins, Ieuan Evans, Norman Gale, Phil Davies, Phil May, RH Williams, Gareth Jenkins, Marlston Morgan, Ivor Jones, Huw Evans/Stuart Gallacher, Rupert Moon, Charles William Mansel-Lewis.
There is a parade of Welsh, Carmarthenshire and Scarlets flags at the main entrance and a walkway featuring commemorative bricks bearing the names of every Llanelli player that has been capped for Wales alongside the names of fans.
David Williams-Ellis, one of the world’s foremost figurative sculptors has been selected to create a bronze sculpture of Ray Gravell to take pride of place outside the stadium.
The commission is due to be unveiled in 2009, raised on a stone plinth.
The famous scoreboard and clock from Stradey Park and the ground’s centenary entrance gates have been moved to Parc y Scarlets.
Parc y Scarlets has the first rugby pitch in the UK to use fibre elastic reinforcing technology combined with 100% natural grass surface (ie no synthetic grass content). This creates a naturally ‘spongy’ surface leaving players less prone to abrasions and injuries. It has under-soil heating and top-of-the-range drainage to ensure the surface is fit for play in all weathers.
The First Matches
The new stadium’s first three games will be at limited capacity (by law) as part of the standard licensing arrangements for new stadia. The first will be Llanelli RFC v Cardiff RFC for a crowd of 4,000 on November 15 2008. The second match will be the Scarlets’ first game at Parc y Scarlets, against Munster in the Magners League on November 28 for a crowd of 9,000. The first Heineken Cup game will be against Ulster on December 12 for a crowd of 11,000.
The Scarlets and the Barbarians played a special match to mark the official opening of Parc y Scarlets. The Baa-Baas have accepted an invitation to bring a star-studded line-up to Wales on Saturday January 31 to play front of a bumper crowd.
The match will feature a gathering of household names from the world of rugby and entertainment.
Main South Stand - Castell Howell Foods
Castell Howell is the leading independent food wholesaler in Wales, serving 4,000 customers and stocking more than 8,000 catering products. The business operates from its Cross Hands hub with depots in Merthyr, Gloucester and Bristol and a wholesale Cash and Carry at Carmarthen.
North Stand - Gravells
One of Wales’ longest established car dealerships based in Kidwelly, Haverfordwest and now Fforestfach, Swansea. The Gravells Stand is a five-year sponsorship deal worth a six-figure sum. Gravells is the oldest Renault dealership in the UK and has been running its franchise since 1954. The company also runs the UK’s newest Kia dealership. See www.gravells.co.uk.
East Stand - Link Telecom Group
The Scarlets have announced Link Telecom Group, one of the UK’s largest and longest established provider of telecommunications solutions, as its third major stand sponsor at their new home Parc y Scarlets. Link Telecom Group will sponsor the new stadium’s all-seater East stand in a five-year deal worth a significant six figure sum. This enhances the company’s current links with the Scarlets; Link Telecom has been the region’s community sponsor for the past year helping deliver rugby skills development and healthy living initiatives with school children across the Scarlets rugby region.
West stand - KL Plant
KL Plant is the sponsor of the ‘West is Best’, West stand which has been designated as a family stand. The successful West Wales business which was established in early 2003, now employs more than 50 staff and holds major contracts providing heavy machinery for construction projects across the UK. These include the London 2012 Olympic village site.
Key partners include:
Inbev have the brewery deal at the stadium. In 2008 the Scarlets agreed rights to the new stadium with InBev for five years in a deal which landed the rugby region a 79% increase in revenue on previous brewery agreements. The Scarlets are delighted to be associated with one of the world’s largest brewers. InBev operates in over 30 countries and employs more than 86,000 colleagues worldwide.
EMC (Event Management Catering Ltd), one of the UK’s leading stadium event and hospitality specialists, have exclusive catering rights at the stadium. The company’s services cover everything from full corporate hospitality through to the provision of food and drink to matchday fans. Their expertise is also be crucial to the success of the non-matchday activity. This includes functions such as conferences, banquets and weddings. EMC also promote their own regular self-organised events.
Huw Evans, Chairman of the Scarlets, as the Scarlets take ownership of the new stadium in November 2008
“This is a hugely significant moment for our rugby region as we are given the keys to our fabulous new home. It heralds the start of a new era for the Scarlets; one which is focused on strengthening our commercial position and ensuring we remain a major force in European rugby. We have fought long and hard to achieve this and I am personally thrilled to see the end result. Our vision was to create a home that benefited Scarlets rugby region as a whole. It will allow our teams to operate and train at the highest level, give our supporters a 21st century match day experience and provide our commercial team with the facilities needed to increase year round revenue to secure our long-term future. Parc y Scarlets gives us the opportunity to broaden our reach without losing our roots and our heritage comes with us as we move here. This is a truly magnificent stadium, one that the Scarlets are very proud of, and one that the whole of Carmarthenshire can celebrate in.”
Mark James, chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council as the stadium neared completion
“Parc y Scarlets will bring huge social and economic benefits to Llanelli and Carmarthenshire, above and beyond providing a first class home for the Scarlets. It will add significantly to other sporting venues either established or planned for the area, including Machynys Golf, Ffos Las Racecourse, Burry Port Harbour and the Motor Sports Centre at Pembrey. Packaged together, they will establish Carmarthenshire as a key player in sport and sport-tourism, attracting many thousands of visitors to the area with the stadium alone predicted to generate a £14.5million boost to the local economy. There are numerous health and community benefits with leisure and community sporting facilities such as the athletics track and training barn, and the provision of a state of the art venue for a wide range of activities. Council support for this stadium development has safeguarded and further promoted the economic and community benefits that the club brings to the town of Llanelli and the wider community of Carmarthenshire. It has been a long journey but we are delighted that we have now reached its end – and are about to start another for the future at Parc y Scarlets.”