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Monday, July 27, 2015

WOMEN'S EURO 2013 - THE STADIA

"Small but perfectly formed" was the mantra as far as the stadia used during the Women's 2013 European Championship were concerned. Seven stadia were used, and with the exception of the Friends Arena in Solna, venue for the final between Germany and Norway, and the Gåmla Ullevi in Göteborg, the capacity of any given stadium was no more than 12000.

FRIENDS ARENA, SOLNA: Just about everybody reading this will remember Zlatan Ibrahimovic's audacious strike for Sweden against England in the first-ever football match to be held at the Friends Arena on 14/11/12, but the stadium was officially opened just over two weeks earlier, on 27/10/12.

Work on the stadium, which was originally called the Swedbank Arena, commenced in May 2009, and the name changed in March 2012 when Swedbank "donated" the stadium's naming rights to Friends, a Swedish anti-bullying charity with which it is heavily involved. The Friends Arena is co-owned by the Svenska Fotbollförbundet (the Swedish FA), Solna city council and a number of Swedish companies.

The stadium, which is all-seater and mulit-purpose with a retractable roof, has a capacity of 50000 for football and bandy matches, but can hold up to 75000 people. There are 26 executive boxes, the largest of which can hold 150 people. It is also used as a venue for conferences and exhibitions, large and small, and contains a number of bars, restaurants and fast-food kiosks. There is even a ring-road underneath the stadium to facilitate the transportation of equipment used in constructing stages and sets.

MYRESJÖHUS/VÄXJÖ ARENA, VÄXJÖ: This small yet attractive stadium, completed in August 2012, hosted four matches during the tournament, and has a total capacity of 12000 people, of which 10000 are seated. The stadium is largely constructed of materials which have been locally sourced, such as glass and wood, and it is situated only a 15-minute walk from the centre of Växjö, which hosted the city's Fan Zone.

The stadium's restaurant has a seating capacity of 500, while there is also a members' lounge and supporters' pub. For those with a few krona to spare and guests in tow, there are also 16 executive boxes, each with a capacity of 10 people. The pitch itself measures 105 metres by 68 metres, and the surface consists entirely of natural grass.



Vaxjö/Myresjöhus Arena (Vaxjö)
(Image supplied courtesy of Henrik Nilsson, Växjö & Co)

NYA PARKEN, NORRKÖPING: The Nya Parken, situated in the city of Norrköping, dates from 1903 and was renovated on a number of occasions, most notably for the 1992 European Championship before it was rebuilt in 2009 with a current capacity of around 16000.

The ground, known to supporters of the three clubs which share the ground (IFK Norrköping, IF Sylvia and IK Sleipner) simply as "Parken," has seating on three sides, with terracing on its south side. Nya Parken has 16 executive boxes, 3 bars and 2 restaurants, and occasionally hosts concerts in its indoor sports arena stroke training area (Teknikhallen).

The pitch has an artificial surface, but this was temporarily removed before the Women's Euro 2013 to enable a grass pitch to be laid in its place until after the tournament ended. IFK Norrköping bought Nya Parken from the local council in 2010.

GULDFÅGELN ARENA, KALMAR: The south-eastern city of Kalmar played host to four matches during the Women's Euro 2013, and they took place in the Guldfågeln Arena, which has a capacity of 10696 (all seated) but which can rise to 15000 to accommodate concerts. The ground was opened in March 2011 and was jointly financed by local Allsvenskan club Kalmar FF and the local council.

The
Guldfågeln Arena also has a pub with a seated capacity of 300, a lounge which can potentially host 1000 people, executive boxes and a restaurant. Journalists are also well catered for; 50 people can fit into the press-box, and there is also an on-site television studio.

Guldfågeln Arena (Kalmar)
(Image supplied courtesy of Anders Bengtsson, Kalmar FF)

GÅMLA ULLEVI, GÖTEBORG/GOTHENBURG: Before Aberdeen fans get all misty-eyed at the very mention of Gothenburg's Ullevi Stadium, scene of The Dons' victory in the 1983 Cup-Winners' Cup final against Real Madrid, in this article, it should be pointed out that the Ullevi Stadium which hosted that particular game is officially known as the Nya Ullevi (or New Ullevi), and was built with the 1958 World Cup in mind.

A stone's throw away from the Nya Ullevi is the Gåmla Ullevi, or Old Ullevi, the original incarnation of which dates from 1916, but which was razed in 2007 and completely rebuilt; the new version of the stadium was completed in 2009 and has a seated capacity of 16596 (the overall capacity is 18416).

The stadium is home to the "Gothenburg Alliance;" in other words, the city's three biggest clubs, IFK Göteborg, GAIS and Örgryte IS. Gåmla Ullevi is also the national stadium as far as Swedish women's football is concerned.

Facility-wise, the stadium has 2 restaurants and 27 executive boxes; the pitch itself has a natural grass surface and measures 105 metres by 68 metres. Gåmla Ullevi is situated pretty much slap-bang in Gothenburg city-centre and is just a five-minute walk from the city's main train station.

Gamla Ullevi (Göteborg)
(Illustrator: CAP AB; image supplied courtesy of Hanna Bergendahl, Gamla Ullevi)

ARENA LINKÖPING, LINKÖPING: The Arena Linköping, situated in the city after which the stadium was named, is a very recent phenomenon and its construction was only completed some four months ahead of the start of the Women's Euro 2013.

The 8300 capacity stadium was the smallest venue to play host to the tournament, and it is unique in that, immediately the Women's Euro 2013 reached its conclusion, it became the home for the city's main football team, Linköpings FC..which plays in the top-flight of Swedish women's football.


                                                                Arena Linköping (Linköping)
(Illustration courtesy of Moghtadan Moghtadai, Botrygg)

ÖRJANS VALL, HALMSTAD: This is perhaps the only ground out of the seven used for the Women's Euro 2013 which still looks pretty much like it did when it was built back in 1922. Owned by Halmstad city council and built to help alleviate unemployment in the area, Örjans Vall was officially opened on 30/07/22 by Crown Prince Gustav Adolf. The ground was named after a hospital dating from mediæval times - St. Örjan's Hospital - which had been built where the entrance to the stadium now lay.

The stadium was the venue for two matches in the 1958 World Cup, both featuring Northern Ireland, and possessed an athletics track until the 1980s. (Its outline can still be seen from above.) It is currently home to two teams, Halmstads BK and IS Halmia, and has a capacity of 15500, and possesses two restaurants and a pub. 

Halmstad city council is due to begin to renovate much of the stadium in the autumn of 2015, with particular emphasis on basically rebuilding the main stand to include new press facilities, a VIP lounge and better facilities for disabled supporters. The project is expected to reach completion next summer.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to the individuals named in the above article who contributed information on - and images of - some of the stadiums covered in said piece. Other information was taken from the various websites related to the stadiums themselves, and, where appropriate the relevant city councils and football clubs.





                                                                        

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