This was an historic match because it was the first in our new ‘Aviva Stadium’. It was my first time in the stadium so i’ll probably talk about the new stadium more than the match itself which we lost 1-0…
First impression of the outside
I’ve seen the new stadium a few times from the outside but never really up close. It looks surprisingly small up close. Like a big shopping center or modern offices.
Ironically, the pictures above make it look huge but they were taken from below ground level. Have a look at some of the pictures later on to see the view from the top tier. You’ll see it’s not that much taller than some apartment buildings in the distance.
First impression once inside
Honestly, not good. For a brand new stadium, my first impression once inside (past the turnstiles) wasn’t good. In fact i’d say out of any modern stadium i’ve ever been in, this was the worst first impression i’ve had. The main reason for that was lack of space. It just felt cramped and i wondered how it would feel at the end of the match with 50,000 people trying to exit.
Our seats were in the top tier and the stairwells up to them were cramped and relatively narrow with low ceilings. Once you reach the concourse area (where there’s food & drink stations etc..) it too was pretty underwhelming. Very narrow corridors, not much space at all. Maybe it’s different in the lower tiers but i doubt it. In some of the toilets i went in to, there was only ONE hand drier and no paper towels in sight. Incredible.
Walking along the corridors, there is plenty of light thanks to the perspex paneling and you can also see the surrounding area but again i feel they’ve not made the most of this. The view outside is obstructed by a metal meche all the way around. It just looks cold and uninviting. Surely there’s a better solution that’s more pleasing on the eye.
That said, it wasn’t just all concrete like you get in a lot of stadiums. Of course, compared to the old Lansdowne Road, this place was a palace and let’s get that straight but for a brand new stadium, i wouldn’t say it had a ‘wow’ factor. Not when you take you first steps inside.
Space is limited around the general area, it’s not a big site and they’ve probably done the best job possible to cram as many seats in as they can. Could i have done a better job? Absolutely not! But i like big open spaces and i expect that from new buildings… this new building is very compact and i’ll put it this way; I wouldn’t want to be running for my life through the corridors and down the steps – it couldn’t handle large volumes of people panicking and rushing.
First impression looking around the stadium
Once out to the seats, i quickly forgot about the negative first impression. Again, compared to what went before it, this was luxury. More seats, more legroom, a roof over our heads and everyone else’s head. Green seats all around. Finally, a proper, modern stadium which Irish soccer (and rugby) can call ‘home’ 🙂
It’s curvy, it’s fun looking, it’s very green with proper sound systems… The north stand looks ridiculously small and it is too. About a dozen rows in total make up that stand but thanks to the curvy roof, it doesn’t look *that* out of place or unfinished like Hill 16 for example in Croke Park. It’s all very easy on the eye and that’s where the away fans will sit most of the time so it helps to single them out and detach them from the home fans.
In terms of atmosphere, it definitely has the potential to be a cauldron of noise. We were never going to get that last night at a glamor friendly match but towards the end of the match in particular the place got a bit more animated and noise wasn’t a problem. Vuvuzela-less noise might i add 😉
We lost 1-0 and it was a dodgy goal too. Offside. Still, we didn’t deserve to get much from the match, the players treated it as a friendly and there were no real chances created. The players were more concerned about not getting injured, which is understandable at this time of year, right before the season kicks off. Nobody wanted to risk 50-50 tackles or let the game get too heated… which is exactly what Ireland need to do to control a match against better opposition.
Next up at the Aviva is a competitive match against Andorra on 7th September. Nothing but victory will be accepted in that one against a side ranked as one of the worst in the world (201st out of 207).