Rugby shrine sold to faithful

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The Independent Online
The shrine of Welsh rugby was broken up and sold piece by piece to the faithful yesterday. The Cardiff Arms Park, in the city's centre, has witnessed euphoric home-team victories and tearful defeats in the 112 years since the opening of the first grandstand.

Parts of the present superstructure were auctioned off yesterday in preparation for its demolition and the building of a new pounds 114m stadium in time for the 1999 Rugby World Cup finals.

More than 3,000 lots were on offer providing Welsh rugby fans with a unique opportunity to buy a chunk of their country's sporting heritage. Money raised from the auction was destined to be ploughed back into the development of the game in Wales.

Hundreds of people bid for squares of hallowed turf: pounds 200 for a 5ft strip. Other popular items under the hammer were red plastic seats (pounds 20 a piece), flagpoles, electricity generators, turnstiles, and even the changing rooms.

Sports clubs from across the UK bought many of the seats for their own stadiums.

The auctioneers Henry Butcher said they were delighted with the turnout and with the prices the fans had paid. The auction finished after seven- and-a-half hours with all the lots sold. The final total raised will not be known until today.