The capacity of the ground was 8,850 people, all seated. The stadium was temporary home for Brighton whilst a new stadium was built in nearby Falmer. The club's former stadium, the Goldstone Ground, was sold for redevelopment in 1997 by the board of the time, none of whom any longer has any involvement with the club. This resulted in the team playing their home matches for two seasons at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium, over 70 miles (110 km) from Brighton, before moving to Withdean Stadium. The only other local option for Albion had been to play at Sussex CCC's County Cricket Ground, Hove.
Withdean Stadium was voted the fourth worst stadium in the UK by The Observer in 2004. The temporary nature of the stadium is obvious - the stadium is primarily used for athletics; there is a single permanent stand along the north side, while the other stands are assembled from scaffolding, some of which has also served as temporary seating at the Open Championship golf tournament. The largest is the South Stand, running the entire length of the pitch. The east end of the pitch contains two medium-sized and one small stand. One of the larger stands here is designated as the family stand. The West Stand was the designated away stand. Changing and hospitality facilities are provided with portable cabins placed haphazardly around the site, and there is very limited on-site car parking.
There was considerable opposition in the neighbourhood to allowing the club to use the stadium. After some unique concessions were made, the club was allowed to move into Withdean in 1999. Amplified music was banned during football matches (except for the traditional "Sussex by the Sea"), and matchday parking restrictions were imposed within a one-mile radius of the ground. After a year, the music restrictions were eased, but the parking limitations continued in force. The price of each match ticket included a public transportation voucher allowing free bus or rail travel throughout the Brighton and Hove area.
For Albion's match against Sheffield United on 2 October 2004 the stadium was temporarily renamed Palookaville as it hosted the launch party for Fatboy Slim's album of the same name. The album was released on Skint Records, then the club's shirt sponsor, and for that match the team wore shirts bearing the name Palookaville instead of Skint. The name Palookaville was also considered appropriate by fans because it reflected the inadequacy of the club's temporary home.
Some of the temporary seating used at Withdean, is now being used by Whitehawk FC at East Brighton Park.
The stadium was managed and maintained under contract from Brighton and Hove city council by D C Leisure Management. The staff responsible for the preparation and maintenance of the stadium on match days used to be employed and managed by D C Leisure (when the company was called Ecovert Management Limited) until the 2003–2004 football season when responsibility of match day stadium staff was handed over to Brighton and Hove Albion F.C..
The staff responsible for the leisure facilities of the stadium complex including the gym, squash and tennis courts, spa and the stadium on non-match days are still employed and managed by D C Leisure.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Withdean Stadium.|