Category Archives: Stadium of the Week

Stadium of the Week – BC Place – Vancouver Whitecaps and BC Lions

With the Women’s World Cup currently on in Canada I thought it was appropriate to look at one of the venues being used in the tournament. I decided on the BC Place, the venue of the final on July the 5th. It has been illuminated in a variety of colour schemes during this World Cup…

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The BC place is located in Vancouver in British Columbia. It was built in 1983 in preparation for the World’s Fair Expo in 1986. The original build had a capacity of around 60,000 and was used to host a multitude of events ranging from football to concerts to visits from the Pope. At the time it held claim to the biggest air supported roof anywhere in the world (a dome that was pressurised to maintain its shape).

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The original roof structure.

Unfortunately in 2007 the roof suffered from a structural collapse under the weight of snow and ice and as a result of this plans were drawn up to carry out $150 million worth of work on the stadium and the external structure. It took a few years of planning but in 2010 the roof was deflated for the final time and replaced by a new retractable cover (the end budget for all the work in the stadium ran to $514 million). The new retractable roof also held a record of its own being the largest in the world.

Vancouver-Jan 5, 2007-Roof of BC Place Stadium collapses Friday during a storm.  The one patch at right is the one that failed which sent the whole thing down.  Also, interior shot with workers and shot of General Manager of BC Place Howard Crosley talking to media. For Wency Leung story(Steve Bosch photo) [PNG Merlin Archive] *CALGARY HERALD MERLIN ARCHIVE*
The snow covered roof that collapsed in 2007.
Currently the stadium is home to two Canadian football teams, the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS and the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. Additionally there have been national matches scheduled here and other sports including Ice-Hockey. The stadium was chosen as one of six host venues for the 2014 Women’s World Cup and will host 9 matches in total (including the final). Controversially it has an artificial surface (along with all of the other tournament venues).

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Stadium of the Week – Stadion Narodowy – Polish National Team

Tonight the 2015 Europa League Final will be contested between Dnipro and Sevilla. The final takes place in Warsaw, Poland at the national stadium (Stadion Narodowy). First built in 2011 for the European Championships in 2012 the stadium is now home to the Polish national team and has hosted a variety of sporting events since.

The national stadium in Warsaw is built on the site of the previous national stadium, 'Stadion Dziesieciolecia'.
The national stadium in Warsaw is built on the site of the previous national stadium, ‘Stadion Dziesieciolecia’.

The stadium has a capacity of 58,145 seats for spectators during football matches (although this can be extended depending on the event). On the outside of the stadium the materials used to create the facade are in the national colours of Poland. The stadium has a unique retractable roof that is a flexible membrane rather than a solid structure.

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This image shows the membrane moving during the process of closing the roof.

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Have You Seen the Facilities? – Ajax De Toekomst

‘De Toekomst’ translates as ‘the future’. Welcome to the home of Ajax Amsterdam and their legendary training ground. 1017px-Ajax_Amsterdam.svgBuilt in the mid 1990s De Toekomst boasts some of the most advanced and developed training facilities in world football. The Ajax Academy has always been a leader in developing young talent and they are still a benchmark for clubs all over the globe.

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The complex has nine football pitches (a mixture of grass and artificial) as well as a 5,000 capacity stadium where the Ajax reserve and youth teams host their matches. There are weights rooms, gymnasiums and swimming pools that all Ajax staff can use as part of training or for conditioning. In terms of staff there are hundreds of people who work every day to provide the Ajax players with everything they need. You can find coaches, chefs, doctors, dieticians and even teachers who provide education to many of the young Ajax stars. The whole facility is geared towards ensuring that Ajax continue to develop future internationalists and they regularly have former Dutch internationalists and Ajax players come in to meet the youngsters to give them coaching and inspiration. In total there are 14 youth teams connected with the Amsterdam side.

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Stadium of the Week – Stade Vélodrome – Olympique de Marseille

Bonjour et bienvenue à Marseille! This week we are going to France to look at an iconic stadium that very recently had a rather large facelift.Olympique_Marseille

The Stade Vélodrome in the south of France has been home to Olympique de Marseille since 1937. The 67,000 capacity stadium did originally host cycling events alongside football so the name is not just for show (it hasn’t held any form of event like that for many, many years).

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Although the Marseille fans initially hated the stadium (it was meant as a replacement to their spiritual home the Stadium Huveaune) the ground has become one of the most famous in world football. It has undergone many different redevelopments with the 1970s and 80s being particularly busy as the removal of both the running track and cycling track increased the capacity dramatically. It is the largest club football ground in France and regularly plays host to the French Rugby Union as well is Marseille home matches.

Two major restructuring projects have been completed in the last 20 years. The first being the complete renovation of the stadium in preparation of it being a World Cup venue in 1998. The stadium was used to host group matches, a quarter-final and a semi-final (it was here where Dennis Bergkamp scored one of the greatest goals of all time against Argentina). It is safe to say that the fans of ‘Les Phocéens’ had a more than slight dislike for the 1994 renovation. They hated the new ground with criticism of the handling of the whole project and the treatment of supporters during its development. They hated that there was no roof and that the noise from the crowd evaporated out of the stadium meaning a poorer atmosphere.

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The stadium as it looked during the World Cup in 1998.

In 2009 the fans were finally awarded with a bit of hope as it was announced that there were formal plans to once again redevelop the ground had been approved by the Marseille city government. Work started in 2011 and finished in 2014. The capacity was increased (yet again) and a roof was finally installed around the ground.

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What makes the atmosphere so special at the Vélodrome is the atmosphere created by the fans in both the ‘Virage Nord’ and ‘Virage Sud’. Various supporters groups are housed in the two ends of the ground creating a vibrant and colourful atmosphere that is pretty much unmatched in France (and is one of the most impressive in Europe). The supporters groups are so important to Marseille as a city and a club that the north stand is named after one of the founders of a major fan association, the ‘Marseille Trop Puissant’ ( it is called the ‘Virage Nord-Patrice de Peretti’). Some of the major fans groups linked to the club are – Yankee Nord Marseille, Marseille Trop Puissant, Fanatics, Dodgers, Commando Ultras 1984, South Winners, Amis de l’OM and the Club Central des Supporteurs.  

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5 avril 2015, stade Vélodrome, Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) Les supporters marseillais ont bien fait les choses avant ce classique contre le PSG. Les tifos réalisés ont magnifiquement habillé le stade Vélodrome. L'Olympique de Marseille perd cependant le match 3 à 2 et permet au PSG de reprendre la tête du championnat. © Jérôme Prévost/ L'Équipe
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MARSEILLE, FRANCE - APRIL 27: Paul O'Connell of Munster wins the lineout ball during the Heineken Cup semi final match between Toulon and Munster at the Stade Velodrome on April 27, 2014 in Marseille, France.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Stadium of the Week – Estádio Municipal de Braga– S.C.Braga

When you design a stadium that is to be built by carving it out of a quarry you know that the result should be pretty spectacular. Sporting_Clube_BragaThat is certainly the case for the Estádio Municipal de Braga home of Portuguese side S.C.Braga. Built as a venue for Euro 2004 the stadium holds just over 30,000 people. Fans are housed in only two stands that both run parallel to the pitch (according to the original architect this is how football should be watched). Behind one goal is an open view of the city of Braga but it is at the other end that the unique nature of this stadium really kicks in. A huge rock face looms over one of the goal mouths, providing fans with one of the most fantastic views in all of football.

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There is actually a ‘roof’ on the stadium (not that you see it when watching on TV). Hundreds of steel cables criss-cross over the stands to provide a canopy that was apparently inspired by South American Inca bridges.

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Admittedly the idea of only having two stands might not be for everyone but you cannot deny just how different this stadium is compared to the hundreds of ‘identikit’ grounds you find all over the world. It has won several major awards for its design and S.C.Brage have, on the whole, enjoyed a successful spell at the Estádio Municipal.

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Stadium of the Week – Friends Arena – Sweden and AIK

For this week’s stadium of the week we travel to Stockholm, Sweden. Friends_Arena_Logo2The ‘Friends Arena’ is home to the Swedish national football team and top flight AIK Fotboll but it is a multi-use facility that regularly hosts concerts, theatre, speedway and ‘bandy’ (kind of like Ice Hockey crossed with football).       FriendsarenaThe stadium was opened in 2012 and boasts a fully retractable roof, a giant ‘media cube’ and an exterior that has enough LED lighting to be lit up in 17 million different colour schemes. Official capacity of the Friends Arena changes depending on the event, with room for up to 65,000 people for concerts and a 50,000 capacity for football.

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Stadium of the Week – Changlimithang Stadium – Bhutan

Recently the footballing world has taken notice of the tiny nation of Bhutan and their historic first ever World Cup wins. The_capital_city_o_galleryfullThey have just emerged victorious in not one but two World Cup Qualifying matches, beating Sri Lanka in both legs. The second of those matches took place at the Changlimithang Stadium located in the beautiful town (and Bhutan capital) Thimphu.

The Changlimithang Stadium was built in 1974 on the site of a unification battle that took place in 1884 and is now home to the national football team as well as a number of Thimphu-based football clubs who play in the top division in Bhutan. There are also many other events held at the stadium every year, including archery tournaments and other sports that have facilities within the main stands (there have even been weddings held there). The stadium can hold roughly 25,000 people when full and it now contains an artificial playing surface. One of the real great things about this national stadium is that it is open to the public for hire. The pitch is fully booked almost every day as locals use the pitch for a variety of sports and clubs.

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It is fairly certain that the Changlimithang Stadium must have the most unique ‘main stand’ in all of world football. A Lovely stadium in a beautiful location.

Stadium of the Week – Stade Léopold Sédar Sengh – Senegal

In 1985 a new national stadium in Senegal was built in Dakar with the name ‘Stade de l’Amitié’ which translates as ‘Stadium of Friendship’. However in 2001 it was decided that the stadium should bear the name of the most famous Senegalese poet of all time (who also so happened to be their former Prime Minister) Léopold Sédar Senghor. He died in the same year and the stadium has been known as the Stade Léopold Sédar Sengh ever since.

The stadium was built with some help from the Chinese government and was made for multi-purpose use to house not only football but athletics, concerts and other major events (including traditional Senegalese wrestling…).

This single-tiered stadium currently has a capacity of roughly 60,000 but it has been known to hold a lot more due to a lack of seats! It has hosted an African Cup of Nations Final in 1992 but more recently it was on the news for a riot involving Senegal and Ivory Coast in 2012. _63483594_63480403With Ivory Coast winning 2-0 the home fans started setting fires and throwing objects on to the pitch. The violence erupted after Ivorian striker Didier Drogba had scored his second goal from the penalty spot, with about 15 minutes left to play. This meant almost certain elimination for Senegal.

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Stadium of the Week – San Jose Earthquakes – Avaya Stadium

Welcome to a brand new feature! Stadiums are something that fascinate football fans. We like looking at new ones, love reminiscing about old ones and we are always keen to hear about those little differences that make stadiums something special.

NASLTo kick off this new weekly feature we go to California and to a brand new stadium that is only a few weeks old. SFBayBlackhawks90San Jose is home to the San Jose Earthquakes, one of the founding members of the MLS. The team have competed professionally in some capacity in the States since the old NASL days back in the in 1970s but have a troubled past in terms of the club ‘s involvement in the national leagues. San_Jose_Earthquakes_logo_1976_1979The team started off life as the Earthquakes and played in the NASL between 1974 and the folding of the league in 1984. The Earthquakes then briefly played in the Western Soccer League but the owner sold the team in 1988 and the team itself was disbanded. A new side began and in 1989 the San Francisco Blackhawks entered the WLS but it was a troubled period that ended with another name change (the San Jose Hawks) and eventual closure of the club in 1993.

640px-MLS_logo_(2014)Less than a year later the MLS was in development and there was huge interest from San Jose and the owners at that time. Discussions between the board and the new MLS ended with San Jose being awarded a place in the new league (but they had to change their name once again, this time to San Jose Clash).

‘The Clash’ enjoyed early success in the MLS but then hit troubled waters yet again as the club’s infighting returned. After a temporary relocation to Houston in 2006 (yes Houston, Texas) the San Jose Earthquakes came back to the MLS in 2008 after a two-year break. This return also meant the planning of a new purpose-built stadium in San Jose. In 2008 official plans were launched and in February 2015 the new Avaya Stadium was opened.

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The Avaya Stadium

On October 21 2012 a world record beating 6,256 people turned up to break ground on the new Earthquakes Stadium. After two and a half years and $100 million in building costs the city is now home to one of the most technologically advanced sporting arenas anywhere in the world. With a capacity of 18,000 the Avaya Stadium is not the biggest of football grounds but in terms of supporting the club and the fans it certainly fits the bill.

The stadium is the first entirely ‘cloud enabled’ sports stadium in the world and through the stadium’s own app fans have the opportunity to interact with one another and the crowd during each match. The stadium has been designed to keep in sound generated from the crowd although there is an open air end of the stadium which is like that for a reason…..it holds America’s largest outdoor bar! At over 3,000 square feet and with over 45 beer taps the bar is a unique vantage point open to all fans at all times during the matches.

The actual structure of the stadium is designed to give supporters the closest view of any MLS team and the stand is single tiered all the way round the ground. The fans also have a two acre ‘FanZone’ to ensure that everyone is looked after on match days. With a fan ‘dedication wall’ and another bar called ‘World of Beers’ it is safe to say that Avaya Stadium is catered for fans and looks set to become a well-loved home for the San Jose Earthquakes for years to come.

The Quakes won their first competitive match in their new home, beating Chicago Fire 2-1.

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Gladiators, ready!

Stadio OlimpicoThis is the Stadio Olimpico. The 72,000 seater stadium in Rome is home to S.S Lazio and A.S Roma, but not for much longer…

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Recently, and to much fanfare, A.S Roma declared that they would be building a new stadium, the Stadio della Roma. This new ground is scheduled to open for the start of the 2016/17 Serie A season and at a cost of almost £200 million it is set to be a world leader in design and innovation.

The 52,000 seater stadium (with a potential to be increased to 60,000) is designed with the history and culture of Rome at its heart. The famous Colosseum is the prime influence and the entire structure is to be built with this in mind.

“Stadio della Roma will proudly represent the city of Rome – a glorious mix of past, present and future in design and materials.”

Outside the Stadio della Roma

The exterior of the stadium is designed with a stone ‘scrim’, which is basically a stone screen that wraps around the structure to evoke images of the Colosseum.

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Both the ‘Plaza’ and the ‘Roma Village’ surround the ground with the aim of providing supporters and visitors with the ultimate match day experience. Bars, restaurants, shops and giant screens will provide pre-match entertainment but will also be open on non-matchdays. The giant screens will also double as outdoor cinemas and will show Roma away matches.

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The Roma experience does not end there. A full training facility is located right next to the ground and it is the vision for Roma to become part of their community by providing local people with the opportunity to be involved in the club.

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Inside the Stadio della Roma

Finally lets look at where the action happens and the interior of the stadium. The steep stands are designed so that every person in the ground can be close to the pitch and get an unparalleled view of each match. The traditional ‘Ultras’ have been given the 14,000 the ‘Curva Sud’. A separate stand that will house the Giallorossi’s most dedicated supporters and Roma believe that the Curva Sud “will be the heart and soul of the stadium.”

The feature that will definitely make this stadium unique is the way the players enter the pitch. A hydraulic lift will be installed to give the players the most dramatic of entrances at pitch side, mirroring the gladiators entrance into the Colosseum.

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It is difficult not to be impressed with Roma’s vision for the future of the club. It is quite fashionable nowadays to criticise new stadiums and ‘modern football’. We have seen identikit stadium designs spring up all over the world and it has alienated certain fans with the clubs they love. However this is different. At the very least it will get Roma out of their current ‘digs’ and away from having to share with their greatest rivals. It will also give the club a fresh start with a new home that their fans can be proud of. If they pull this off it will be an iconic stadium in world football for years to come.

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