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24 September 2014

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Take a tour around the home of the Sky Blues

Inside Highfield Road football ground
Coventry City's Highfield Road ground in atmospheric mist
Highfield Road holds many special memories for Coventry City fans and you can relive them with our virtual tour of the stadium.

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The roots of the Sky Blues date back to 1883, but the group of factory workers at the heart of the new-found club played on fields in Binley Road, not at Highfield Road.

Coventry City, then nicknamed The Bantams, didn't move to Highfield Road until 1899 and the club has lived there until the present day.

To take a closer look, click on the images below to see different views of the ground.

Making History
Jimmy Hill, the manager that took the club into the top flight and later became chairman, made history at Highfield Road in 1981 when he made it the country's first all-seater stadium.

However, the plan went horribly wrong when fans stayed away from the stadium and hooligans even ripped up the seats to use as missiles.

The standing areas were later restored and Hill left just two years after he introduced the terrace revolution.

 Inside Highfield Road football ground
Click on the image above to launch the first 360 virtual tour
Highfield Road was the home of top-flight football for 34 years until City were relegated to Division One in 2001.

The unbroken spell was one of the longest in the history of league football, with only Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool enjoying a longer period without relegation.

Looking forward
Back in 1997, the then club chairman Bryan Richardson announced that City would be moving to pastures new and unveiled his dream to take the club to one of the most expensive and technically advanced stadia in Europe.

The new ground, dubbed Arena 2000 after the year City would move in, would feature a sliding roof and - perhaps more ambitious - a pitch that could slide in and out of the stadium.

 Inside Highfield Road football ground
Click on the image above to launch the second 360 virtual tour
However, as time went on it became clear that the plans were running way behind time - amid much micky-taking by fans - until in 1999 the project changed names to Arena 2001.

Controversy around the project escalated, particularly when it was revealed the club didn't own the land - a former gas works in Foleshill - where the stadium was built.

More concern grew in 2000 when it was discovered that Highfield Road had been sold to a housing developer and City had no new ground to move to.

Mr Richardson was deposed as chairman during a boardroom coup in 2002 - at a point when no work had begun on the stadium.

It wasn't until after this that fans finally began to believe a move to a new stadium would be possible.

New chairman Mike McGinnity announced plans for a scaled-down arena, with a capacity of 32,000 and with shops and car parking on site.

Some tangible work began on site with the demolition of the huge gas tower that dominated the skyline.

Fans have been promised they will be sitting in their new seats at the beginning of season 2004.

Time will tell whether this dream will come true.

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