Ipswich played their early matches at Broomhill, but in 1884, the club moved to Portman Road and have played there ever since, while the ground was also used as a cricket pitch during the summer by the East Suffolk Cricket Club who had played there since 1855, and the cricket club had erected a pavilion, the first fixed building at the ground, but ore substantial elements of ground development did not begin for a further 11 years, though Ipswich became one of the first clubs to implement the use of goal nets in 1890, and by this time, Ipswich were an amateur side.
The first visit of a professional club came in 1892, when Preston North End traveled to Town, before this was followed six years later by a visit from Aston Villa, a game which was so popular that a temporary stand was erected in order to accommodate a crowd of around 5,000.
The first permanent stand, a wooden structure known affectionately as the "Chicken Run", was built on the Portman Road side of the ground in 1906, before thhis structure was sold in 1971 to the local speedway team, the Ipswich Witches, who installed it at Foxhall Stadium.
In 1914, the ground was commandeered by the British Army for use as a training camp for the duration of the First World War, and the contorl of Portman Road was not returned to the club until two years after the end of the war and significant work was required to repair damage to the ground caused by heavy machinery.
Town then turned professional in 1936 and the cricket club were forced to move out, so work began on the first bank of terracing at the north end of the pitch. The following year, on the back of winning the Southern League, a similar terrace was built at the southern "Churchmans" end and 650 tip-up seats, bought from Arsenal, were installed, and Portman Road was home to Ipswich Town's first Football League match on 27 August 1938, a 4–2 win against Southend United in the Division Three (South) with more than 19,000 spectators.
The Supporters' Association funded a number of improvements at Portman Road in 1952, after concrete terracing replaced the wooden terraces at the cost of £3,000 and another £3,000 was used to re-terrace the North Stand in 1954, bringing the capacity of the ground to approximately 29,000, before in 1957, the association raised £30,500 towards the building of a new West Stand, increasing ground capacity to around 31,000, and the Floodlights were installed two years later, because of the £15,000 raised by the association and they were switched on by club president Lady Blanche Cobbold for the first floodlit match at the ground, a friendly against Arsenal, in February 1960.
Television cameras made their debut at Portman Road in 1962 as Anglia Television arrived for Match of the Week, but it was another six years, before the BBC televised a match at the ground for Match of the Day as they visited Portman Road for the first time in 1968 for Ipswich's league fixture against Birmingham City.
The ground development continued with roofing enhancements to the North Stand and an increase in capacity to 31,500 by 1963, while the dressing rooms were constructed in 1965 and new turnstiles were introduced two years later, including a separate entrance for juveniles at the Churchmans end, and in 1968 the club agreed to a new 99-year lease on the ground with owners Ipswich Borough Council.
Next two-tier propped cantilever Portman Stand was built along the east side of the ground in place of the existing terraces in 1971, providing 3,500 additional seats and increasing the capacity of the ground to approximately 37,000, while advertising appeared around the perimeter of the ground in the same year, and the following year saw the construction of the "Centre Spot" restaurant underneath the Portman Stand, and then following the success in the 1978 FA Cup, the club invested in 24 executive boxes in front of the Portman Stand and, as a result of the Safety of Sports Ground Act (1975), reduced the capacity in front by introducing seats, taking the overall capacity down to 34,600.
In 1980, plastic seats replaced wooden benches in the West Stand, and in the following year, the club announced a deal with electronics company Pioneer Corporation with the stand expanded at a cost of around £1.3m, renamed as the Pioneer Stand and re-opened in 1983, before safety barriers were removed from the North Stand in 1989 following the Hillsborough disaster and following the recommendations of the Taylor Report, the terraces in both the North and South stands were also converted to all-seating, and then Pioneer Stand was renamed as the Britannia Stand following a new sponsorship deal with the building society in 1999, and in the following year a statue of Sir Alf Ramsey was unveiled at the corner of Portman Road and Sir Alf Ramsey Way.
Success for Town in promotion to the Premier League in 2000 led to further investment in the infrastructure, with the club spending around £22 million on redeveloping both the North and South stands, after the complete renovation of the South Stand into a two-tier stand added 4,000 seats to the stadium, and the subsequent demolition and reconstruction of a two-tier North Stand added a further 4,000 seats and brought the total capacity of the ground to more than 30,000.
In 2001, local brewery Greene King took on the sponsorship of the updated South Stand, and the stand was renamed the Greene King stand until 2009, before the sponsorship ended and was renamed back South Stand and then following the death of Sir Bobby Robson in 2009, the club announced that the North Stand would be renamed as the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, and on 31 March 2012, the South Stand was renamed the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand on the 50th anniversary of Town winning the old First Division title.
On 10 July 2012, the Britannia Stand was renamed East of England Co-operative Stand following a sponsorship deal with the East of England Co-operative Society.
The highest attendance recorded at Portman Road is 38,010 for a match against Leeds United in the FA Cup 6th round on 8 March 1975, and then the record modern (all-seated) attendance is 30,152, set on 21 December 2003 against local rivals Norwich City, while the largest crowd for a non-competitive game at the ground was over 23,000 for Bobby Robson's testimonial where Ipswich, including George Best, played against an England XI.
The highest seasonal average at the stadium since Ipswich turned professional was 26,431 in the 1976–77 season while Ipswich were playing in the First Division, and the lowest average attendance at Portman Road was 8,741 in the club's inaugural league season, the 1936–37 season in Division Three (South).
The highest total seasonal attendance was recorded during the 1980–81 season with more than 814,000 during a season in which Ipswich won the UEFA Cup and finished second in the First Division.