Niigata is located on the northern Japan Sea coast, and is the largest city in a rather isolated area. This has been an advantage to Albirex Niigata in some ways, since it does not have any local baseball franchise or other sports teams to compete for fan support. As a result, Albirex became one of the most well-supported teams in the league. As they built their fanbase, they were helped by the fact that they played home games in the 42,000-seat "Big Swan" Stadium, which was one of the stadiums used to host the 2002 World Cup.
The roots of Albirex Niigata are very deep. The club can trace its history to 1955, with the formation of the Niigata Eleven Soccer Club. In 1986, with the formation of the Northern Joetsu Regional League, the club became one of the top regional powers, taking the regional championship title regularly between 1986 and 1994. In 1994, following the creation of the J.League, Niigata Eleven Soccer Club changed its name to Albireo Niigata Football Club, and set its sights on becoming a professional club. The name was taken from "Albi" (white) + "Reo" (king), which is an appropriate name for a team from one of the snowiest parts of the country. Albireo is also the name of the white snow goose that serves as the team mascot. In 1998, after being selected as one of the founding members of the J2, the team changed its name to "Albirex", which rolls off the tongue a bit more easily than "Albireo".