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Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium is a stadium in the Wembley area of London, which is currently being demolished and rebuilt.

Originally known as the Empire Stadium, it was built for the British Empire Exhibition[?] of 1924. Sir John Simpson[?] and Maxwell Ayerton[?] were the architects were and Sir Owen Williams[?] the Head Engineer. The stadium's distinctive Twin Towers became its trademark. It was first opened to the public on 28 April 1923. The Stadium's first turf was cut by King George V. In 1934 the Empire Pool was built.

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Football

The first event held at the stadium was the FA Cup final of 1923 between Bolton Wanderers[?] and West Ham United . This is known as the White horse final[?]. Despite the official maximum capacity of 100,000, the attendance was quoted as 126,947 but up to 200,000 people are thought to have squeezed in. It was thought that the match would be postponed until Police Constable George Scorey and his white horse, Billie, slowly pushed the masses back to the sides of the field of play for the FA Cup Final to start.

The FA Cup final was played there every year in May (outside wartime) until 2000. It was also the venue for Finals of the League Cup, Associate Members' Cup and the Football League.

As the home of the English national football team, In 1966 it was the leading venue of the World Cup Championships and hosted the final game.

On 29 May 1968 it was host to the 1968 European Cup final between Manchester United and Benfica[?].

In 1996 it hosted the European Championships. Of Wembley Stadium, Pele said "Wembley is the church of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football" in recognition of its status as world's most well-known football stadium.

Other sports

Wembley was the main athletics venue for the 1948 Summer Olympics, with Fanny Blankers-Koen and Emil Zatopek[?] among the notable winners. The stadium Rugby League held its Challenge Cup final at Wembley from 1929 onwards, an event often seen as a big day out for a sport whose heartland is in the north of England.

As well as special events, Wembley was also a venue for regular sporting fixtures, notably in greyhound racing and motorcycle speedway.

Music

Wembley Stadium became a musical venue in 1972 with an all-star rock 'n' roll concert. The British leg of Live Aid was held there in 1985 and the Nelson Mandela tribute concert in 1988.

Redevelopment

The stadium closed in 2000 for redevelopment, but a string of financial and political difficulties delayed the work for over two years. The new National Stadium will have an all-seated capacity of 90,000, a sliding roof, a dramatic 133 metre tall arch, and should open in 2006.

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