Some of Welsh rugby’s greatest players have today joined their fans on social media to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Millennium Stadium.
Fifteen years since Wales’ premier event venue opened its doors to an historic Welsh rugby win over South Africa on 26 June 1999, the WRU – which owns and operates the Millennium Stadium – has launched a social media initiative to pay tribute to 15 years at the iconic home of Welsh sport.
Using the hashtag #Mill15, the campaign is now live across the WRU’s official social media outlets for fans to share all their greatest memories, photos and videos.
Wales stars Sam Warburton are Jamie Roberts among those endorsing the milestone celebration with their very own Millennium Stadium memories on social media, alongside the memoirs of legends like Mark Taylor and Rob Howley.
The WRU are calling on the fans to get involved in a special ‘Throwback Thursday’ event via WRU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and pay tribute to the rich history of world-class sport and entertainment at Cardiff’s iconic venue.
Taylor, Wales and Swansea legend and current U20s Team Manager, became the first of an impressive list of sport and music celebs to raise the iconic roof at the Millennium Stadium when he scored the first try for the inaugural game and famous Springbok defeat. He said:
“Welsh rugby fans have watched the national squad accomplish some of the greatest and toughest challenges at the Millennium Stadium, most recently three Grand Slams and four Championship titles in the Six Nations and, for me, beating the Springboks in 1999.
“To beat South Africa in Cardiff was amazing and I can’t think of a better way to open a Stadium which is owned by the WRU! But there’s also been so many more spectacular days enjoyed by Millennium Stadium visitors over the 15 years.
“The WRU’s anniversary social media initiative will be a trip down memory lane for all those supporters and I hope as many as possible will get involved in the social media celebration tomorrow with #Mill15.”
More than 6.25 million rugby supporters have since cheered on the national side at 100 Test matches, including three Grand Slams and four RBS 6 Nations Championship wins.
And rugby fans from all over the world will have followed some of the game’s greatest players at what is arguably the world’s best rugby stadium throughout Rugby World Cup 1999 and 2007 and across five Heineken Cup Finals.
Likewise, football fans will remember the elite line-up of soccer stars to grace the stadium pitch with six FA Cup Finals, Welsh football internationals and 11 Olympic football matches during London 2012.
Tomorrow sports fans all over the world can use the #Mill15 to remember these occasions and more from world-class boxing to equestrian championships as well as an impressive catalogue of major live music artists.
When the Manic Street Preachers played in front of a capacity crowd on Millennium Eve, they showed their music lovers that it is not just the crescendo of 74,500 Welsh fans belting out the national anthem which makes the stadium a very special place for live music.
The band were the first music stars to perform and blazed the trail for a host of music icons to play under the roof at Europe’s largest indoor arena including Madonna, Rolling Stones, U2, Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rihanna and Take That who brought a trio of world tours to the venue; The Ultimate Tour 2006, Circus Live Tour 2009 and Progress Live 2011.
Many a motor sports event has also roared into town when the pitch is removed including Monster Jam and 13 Speedway World Championships – the fourteenth event coming up soon, on Saturday 12 July.
Major events at the stadium attract around 770,000 paying visitors each year; more than 50,000 people visit the venue annually for guided tours and visitor numbers are expected to be bolstered in the years ahead with eight Rugby World Cup games in 2015.
Millennium Stadium Manager Mark Williams said: “The 15-year milestone is the perfect excuse to celebrate so many great occasions and we want people to join us across social media channels to share their own unique Millennium Stadium memories and photos with our anniversary hashtag #Mill15.
“As we reflect on past glories – with over 350 events across sport, music and entertainment to choose from – we should be in for a vast and exciting celebration, which also paints a very healthy picture of what the future has in store.”
He added: “We’ve already released news of our exciting renovation plans for this summer and are making all the necessary preparations to modernise the pitch system with a new Desso (hybrid) pitch, a Terraplas covering and new ‘plug and play’ infrastructure for broadcasters.
“The new pitch system will significantly improve the playing surface for major sports events and uphold our industry-wide reputation for versatility and event management expertise which allows us to attract all the biggest and best events to Cardiff.
“When you’re in the marketplace for attracting the best events to Cardiff, you have to be the best and this will be front of mind as we continue on the road to Rugby World Cup 2015 and beyond.”
With a host of major world-wide events in the calendar for the 2014/15 season – Dove Men Series, RBS 6 Nations and warm-up games ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015 – the stadium will continue to attract people all over the world.
This activity generates more than £130million a year for the city region and sustains more than 2,500 permanent jobs, according to an independent report carried out by Econactive Ltd for the WRU.