History of DW / JJB Stadium
The JJB Stadium, also known as the DW Stadium, is one of the newer stadiums in the English Football League, having been completed and opened in 1999.
With the closure of Springfield Park to make way for a housing estate and a stadium where Wigan Athletic had been playing for almost a century, the club needed a new place to play. Architect Alfred McAlpine was contracted to design the stadium, with completion occurring in 1999.
The first match to be held at the JJB Stadium was Wigan Athletic v Morecambe, although this was before the official stadium’s opening. The first official match was Wigan Athletic v Manchester United. This was a huge match at the time as Manchester United were fresh off winning the treble, and Wigan Athletic was very much a lower league team at the time. After these two friendlies, the first competitive match at the JJB Stadium was a second division match against Scunthorpe United. This saw a 3-0 victory for Wigan, which would kick-start the success that they would see at the JJB Stadium.
At the time of the JJB Stadium opening, Wigan Warriors were also looking for a new stadium. They had recently had Central Park, the stadium they had been playing at for almost a century, sold from underneath them. While the original plan was for them to ground share with Bolton Wanderers, it was eventually decided that keeping Wigan Warriors within Wigan would be the best bet.
Interestingly, the JJB Stadium has a ‘unique’ record. The first away team to ever win a match at the stadium is the team that called it their home (Wigan Athletic). This is because Wigan Athletic was matched against Cambridge City in the FA Cup. It was decided that Cambridge City’s stadium was not good enough to host an FA Cup game, so it was moved to the JJB Stadium. This meant that technically, Wigan Athletic was still the away team for the event. Wigan ended up winning this match 2-0, although they were knocked out of the competition just one round later, also at their stadium.
The first team to win a league fixture at the stadium occurred on the 7th January 2000. Oldham Athletic beat Wigan Athletic 1-0, with the goal coming within the final few minutes of the game.
Within a few years or so or opening up, one team playing at the JJB Stadium decided to call it a day. Orrell R.U.F.C. was a rugby project which was taking up a lot of money to very little success. The aim was to get the rugby team to the Rugby Union Premiership, but this was something that did not seem to be happening at all, either fast or slow. In 2004, the club had most of its funding removed by Dave Whelan, who decided that he was not getting enough of a return on the investment that he had made into the team. This completely eliminated most of the income that the club had. By the end of 2006, they lost their professional status as a team and left the JJB Stadium for good.
Of course, the other teams playing at the JJB Stadium achieved a lot of success. Wigan Athletic, in particular. They were lucky enough to climb to the top of the football pyramid in England, offering regular Premier League football at the stadium, and becoming somewhat of a yo-yo club.
In 2005, there was the possibility that the stadium would be unable to host any football matches. This was due to a dispute with the police. In England, it is a legal requirement to pay the police to attend your football matches to help to control the crowd. However, the bill for the police had not been paid. If the dispute had not been settled, then the stadium’s safety certificate would have been revoked, which would have resulted in no matches being able to be played at the JJB Stadium. It is unknown where the matches would have taken place if it came to this.
It was in March 2009 that the stadium was renamed the JJB Stadium after Dave Whelan purchased JJB and thought that it would make ideal cross-promotion. At the same time, Dave Whelan passed ownership of the stadium to the Wigan Athletic team (it had been owned by him personally before). The lease for Wigan Warriors to continue to play at the stadium was also increased by 50 years, and the teams that played at the stadium were allowed to rename one stand each.
More about the stadium
The whole pitch used to be natural grass, but every year the technical area and the warm-up area on the shaded side of the stadium used to wear immenselyIan Forshaw
Head Groundsman at the DW Stadium / JJB Stadium
The atmosphere at the DW Stadium is what makes the games I think. What the fans bring to the game is massive for us. Form can go out of the window when you can ride that emotional side of things.Sean O'Loughlin
Wigan Warriors Loose forward & Club captain
The experience at and atmosphere at the DW stadium has beenReece James
great for me.
20 years old Wigan Athletic full back