Stadium MK

Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom

  • Typologies

    Arenas, Stadiums

  • Building Activities

    Concerts, Rugby, Soccer

  • Services


  • Completion


CHALLENGE. Milton Keynes’ aspirations for a stadium with a capacity of 30,000 were laid out in the first detailed masterplan of the city in 1973. Forty years later that ambition has finally been realized with the completion of the final stage of Populous’ phased design.

The plans for Stadium MK were conceived so that the venue could grow in parallel with the club’s ambitions, while using the funding from other developments at the surrounding Denbigh North site — such as new Asda and IKEA stores, and an IMAX cinema — to support that growth.

INNOVATION. Milton Keynes is known by music fans for hosting some of the biggest live performances in entertainment history, and is home to Marshall, iconic manufacturers of music amps. These associations inspired the composition of the western elevation, which takes its main cues from the great stacks of amps that acted as onstage backdrops for rock stars throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.

The rectangular form of the individual amps is reflected in the layout of the hotel rooms on the upper levels, and the office space below, with balconies and brise-soleils comprised of fine black mesh squares. The cantilevered steel roof structure hovers effortlessly above, while the entire building is anchored to the ground by a dark granite plinth.

The second phase of the design utilized the upper tier and concourse, already provided in Phase One, fitting them out to expand the capacity to 30,000 seats. It also saw the completion of the 4,500-seat Arena MK, which connects directly into the lower and upper concourses of the South Stand, with two levels of bar facilities, balconies and toilets to compliment the club’s hospitality offering.


"The tiled exterior which adds an alternative dimension to the future of football stadium architecture. Built as much for the fans satisfaction as it is for the players — MK Dons have a spectacular stadium in a growing community."


IMPACT. The stadium first opened in 2007 with a capacity of 22,000, incorporating a 122-room hotel into the West Stand. The western elevation also had to accommodate a range of functions, some of which aren’t usually associated with a football stadium, including an 800-seat ballroom, a gym, restaurants and office space.

On 26th August 2014 the expanded stadium, with a capacity of 30,000 fans and a 360-degree, 300-bedroom hotel, saw a record crowd attend MK Dons’ finest sporting achievement to date — their Capital One Cup demolition of Manchester United. The stadium’s profile was further enhanced at the end of 2015 when it hosted three matches of the Rugby World Cup.

Should it be required in the future, there is the potential to include even more seating, with the high roof providing the option of a third tier that would give a capacity of 45,000.

Services Provided

The 30,500-capacity MK Stadium is the culmination of a phased design program set out by Populous that allowed the venue and its supporting facilities to be developed in parallel and supported by the growth of the football club. The stadium incorporates two seating tiers, with a high roof that allows the option for a third tier to be added. This would increase the overall capacity to around 45,000. The design is in full compliance with UEFA’s requirements for Elite Stadiums and the stadium is therefore eligible to host matches in Europe’s most prestigious football competitions.

The wider stadium development incorporates an indoor, multipurpose, 6,000-capacity arena and 128-bed hotel. The hotel’s interiors have been designed to be flexible, with several rooms on the pitch side doubling up as executive suites. The seating bowl is partially sunken and cast directly against the excavated ground, making structural savings that resulted in a significant reduction in construction costs.

Project Team
Connect with the designers

Mike Trice

Charlie Fordham