Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is located in Crystal Palace in South London. It is home to Britain's premier athletics stadium as well as a large sports centre and was officially opened in 1964. Prior to this re-opening, the sports centre was rich in sporting history with the site previously hosting a number of FA cup finals and high profile rugby matches. This article details out all you need to know about the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
As it is today
The current athletics stadium is built on the former football ground of Crystal palace and can seat 15,500 people, with the possibility of extending the seating to hold 24,000 people. The future of the stadium is in doubt with the building of the Olympic stadium on Stratford.
The national sports center also has a leisure centre which contains an Olympic-sized swimming pool as well as a state-of-the-art fitness centre.
Recently, the ground's future as an athletics stadium has been thrown in doubt as both Crystal Palace FC and Tottenham Hostpur have drawn up plans to turn the ground into a purpose-built football stadium once again.
The history of the ground
Between 1895 and 1914, the ground was a football stadium which hosted the annual FA Cup final as well as being the original home of Crystal Palace FC before they moved to Selhurst Park. In 1913, almost 122,000 people squeezed into the grounds for the FA Cup final between Aston Villa and Sunderland.
The ground also has a rich history in rugby and has the prestige of having hosted the first ever England Rugby Union international against New Zealand in England, with the All Blacks running out 15-0 victors.
The ground hosted cricket for a short time as well but, perhaps more interestingly, was formerly part of a Grand Prix circuit. It hosted the first ever London Grand Prix in 1937 and, later that year, also hosted the International Imperial Trophy which was the first motor racing event to be broadcast by the BBC.
As time went on, the track even went on to host a couple of non-championship Formula One races. The last race took place on the track in May 1972 before the track was closed. It is still partially visible on the site and hosts a couple of low-key motoring events, though no actual race meets occur anymore.
The leisure centre also previously played host to British league basketball, acting as home venue for both London Towers and Crystal Palace before they merged into one team. The team folded in 2006 due to financial difficulties.
After the Olympics in 2012, Crystal palace will probably no longer be Britain's top athletics venue.