Constructed and opened in 1906 to replace the Muntz Street ground, which had become too small to meet the club's needs, the original St Andrew's could hold an estimated 75,000 spectators, housed in one grandstand and a large uncovered terrace. The attendance record, variously recorded as 66,844 or 67,341, was set at a 1939 FA Cup tie against Everton. During the Second World War, St Andrew's suffered bomb damage and the grandstand, housing a temporary fire station, burned down in an accidental fire. In the 1950s, the club replaced the stand and installed floodlights, and later erected a second small stand and roofed over the open terraces, but there were few further changes.
The ground became dilapidated: a boy was killed when a wall collapsed during rioting in the 1980s. When new owners took the club out of administration in 1993, they began a six-year redevelopment programme during which the ground was converted to an all-seater stadium to comply with the Taylor Report into safety at sports grounds, and all areas apart from the Main Stand were completely rebuilt. The seating capacity of the modern stadium is around 30,000. It has function rooms suitable for business or social events and a club store selling Birmingham City merchandise. A 2004 proposal that the club should sell the ground and move into a multi-purpose City of Birmingham Stadium remains speculative. In 2013, the ground was listed as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011.
St Andrew's has been the venue for England international football matches at all levels below the senior national team, and for semifinal matches in the FA Cup and finals of lesser competitions. It has played host to events in other sports, including rugby union and professional boxing, and more recently has staged music concerts.
Small Heath Alliance – the original name of Birmingham City Football Club – played their first home games on waste ground off Arthur Street, in the Bordesley Green district of Birmingham, very near the site where St Andrew's would be built. In 1876, they made a temporary move to a fenced-off field in Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, with an estimated capacity of 3,000 spectators; because the field was enclosed, admission could be charged. Interest in the team grew, and a year later they moved again, this time to a rented field in Small Heath, situated on the eastern edge of Birmingham's built-up area, just north of the main road to Coventry. This ground, which became known as Muntz Street, had four sides of open terracing, a small covered wooden stand, and a changing-room for the players. When first opened it could hold approximately 10,000 spectators. Over the years the height of the terracing was raised, which increased the capacity to around 30,000, but this became insufficient to cope with the demand. The attendance at a match in 1905 against local rivals Aston Villa was officially recorded as 28,000 spectators, but several thousand more climbed walls or forced turnstiles to gain entry. The landlords refused to sell the freehold of the ground, nor would they permit major extensions to be made. As the board of directors estimated that staying at Muntz Street was costing the club £2,000 a year (£197,000 at today's prices), they began the search for an alternative site.
Director Harry Morris identified a site for a new ground in Bordesley, some three-quarters of a mile (1 km) from Muntz Street towards the city centre. Covering an area of 7.5 acres (3 ha), bounded by Cattell Road, Coventry Road, Tilton Road, Garrison Lane and the railway, and near St Andrew's church, the site was where a brickworks had once operated. Though Morris described the land itself as "a wilderness of stagnant water and muddy slopes", the Sporting Mail considered it "very favourably situated for obtaining easy communication with the city and many of the suburbs, and will be served by an excellent service of electric cars , while the provision of a railway station close at hand is also considered as within the bounds of possibility."