The stadium hosted its first football match in August 2005. The official opening was performed by Dame Kelly Holmes and sports minister Richard Caborn on 24 February 2007, by which time the arena had already hosted a sell-out England U21 football match against Germany as well as a full season of Coventry City matches.
The arena became the venue for Coventry City's home games at the start of the 2005–06 season, following 106 years at the Highfield Road stadium. The first competitive football match played at the stadium was against Queens Park Rangers on 20 August 2005, in front of a reduced (for safety reasons) 23,012 capacity crowd. The game ended 3–0 to Coventry, with Claus Bech Jørgensen becoming the first player to score at the arena. Hull City became the first away team to win at the Ricoh, easing their way to a 2–0 win on 24 September 2005, with both goals coming from John Welsh.
The stadium has never seen a capacity 32,600 crowd for a Coventry City match but 2009 saw their highest attendance coming against Chelsea in an FA Cup quarter-final in 2009. This game was technically a sellout as the fan segregation took up a whole block and all available tickets were sold with the overall attendance being 31,407.
In December 2009, the first hat-trick was scored at the venue when Freddy Eastwood scored three past Peterborough United. Eastwood grabbed two goals before half-time before Craig Mackail-Smith netted a brace in the second half to level the scoring. However, Coventry City secured three points in the Championship fixture after Eastwood grabbed the final goal of the fixture just a minute after Peterborough levelled. Freddy Eastwood remained the only player to have scored a hat-trick at the Ricoh Arena until Coventry City loanee Jacob Murphy scored a first-half hat-trick in a League One fixture against Gillingham on 21 November 2015. On 28 July 2011, a bronze statue of Jimmy Hill was unveiled at the entrance to the stadium after £100,000 was raised by Coventry City fans. He managed the club from 1961 to 1967 and was responsible for guiding it to the top flight. Despite this, Hill decided to resign as manager for a career in television but later returned to the Sky Blues as managing director before becoming chairman. When he died in December 2015, fans paid tribute by placing flowers and scarves by and around the statue.
The quickest ever goal scored at the ground was when Coventry striker Dan Agyei converted against Northampton Town after 19.5 seconds on 4 October 2016. This beat the previous record scored by Reading's Grzegorz Rasiak after 27 seconds in 2009, when Reading defeated Coventry 3–1. Rasiak's goal still remains the fastest one scored by an away side at the stadium. Rent dispute (2012–13) In December 2012, Coventry City owners SISU Capital became embroiled in a high-profile dispute with ACL over the rent arrangement and a lack of access to matchday revenue. The previously agreed rent amounted to £1.2 million per year, but did not give Coventry City access to matchday revenue.
A deadline of 27 December 2012 was given by ACL for unpaid rent. After the deadline passed, a winding up order was enforced through the High Court. Subsequently, after ACL planned to place Coventry City FC Ltd into administration, the club itself entered administration, accepting a 10-point penalty from the Football League as a consequence. A further 10-point penalty was incurred when ACL refused to accept the terms of a CVA proposed by the administrator. Coventry City Football Club has since been bought by Otium Entertainment Group.
On 23 March 2013, Coventry City moved all its staff and club shop stock from the venue after a long dispute over rent and access to matchday revenue with the club. Coventry City agreed to play their home games at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium to ensure that they fulfilled their fixtures. This resulted in ACL threatening to sue Northampton Town if they decided to carry on hosting Coventry City's home games. Northampton Town released a club statement saying that they "will not be bullied or threatened". ACL subsequently withdrew its legal action against Northampton Town.
Second stint at the arena (2014–19) ACL and Sisu agreed a two-year deal to bring Coventry City back to the arena in 2014. The club also had the option to play there for a further two years; they played their first match back at the stadium on 5 September 2014 against Gillingham. This followed a payment of £470,000 from SISU Capital to ACL after a Football League ruling. The deal was later extended by a year. This meant Coventry City remained at The Ricoh Arena until May 2019 before ground-sharing for two seasons with Birmingham City at St Andrew's.
Third stint at the arena (2021–) On 10 March 2021, It was announced that Coventry City and Wasps had agreed to a ten-year deal, which would mean that the club would return to the stadium from the 2021-22 season. The club still intend to build a new stadium on land near the University of Warwick on the southern edge of the city, as a break clause in their contract will allow them to leave the Ricoh for their new stadium.