It has been argued that natural landscapes play a significant role in establishing relationships
between sport and the nation (Bairner, 2009).This paper argues that the built
environment can be equally influential in this respect, not least in terms of the stories
that so-called national stadia tell us about nations and the complex relations which citizens
have with them. The main focus of the paper is sports stadia in Britain and Ireland
and, by implication, the politics of identity in a multi-national United Kingdom, arguably
more divided than at any time since the Act of Union in 1707 because of the decision
to leave the European Union.
“Space and place”, according to Yi-Fu Tuan, “are basic components of the lived world;
we take them for granted” (Tuan, 1997: 3). That said, space is only natural in part for, as
Henri Lefebvre observes, “social space contains a great diversity of objects, both natural
and social, including the networks and pathways which facilitate the exchange of material
things and information” (Lefebvre, 1991: 77). As for public or semi-public spaces,
according to Doreen Massey “from the greatest public square to the smallest public
park these places are a product of, and internally dislocated by, heterogeneous and
sometimes conflicting social identities/relations” (Massey, 2005: 152).