Blogging the Euro 2008 stadiums (part one)

February 28, 2008

There are exactly 100 days to go before the start of Euro 2008 and if the people aren’t exactly dancing in the streets at the prospect, at least the organisers have done their bit.I’m three-quarters of the way through a tour of the eight stadiums hosting matches at the tournament and it looks like Switzerland is going to supply most of the atmosphere. The pick of the games in the first phase are there and from what I’ve seen so far, the stadiums look a lot better.

We started off at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna, with its slightly faded grandeur, took a long bus ride down to Klagenfurt and then went on to Salzburg and Innsbruck.

Yesterday we crossed into Switzerland to see the plushly rebuilt Letzigrund stadium in Zurich and I’ve just come from a walk round the St Jakob Park in Basel, where six matches will be played.

Klagenfurt is a brand new ground, a little jewel of a stadium, with a temporary top tier to take it up to a capacity of 30,000 or so, and the people there are evidently proud of it. At least they have something to be happy about.

The home team, SK Kaernten, are bottom of the Austrian Bundesliga at the moment and relegation looks inevitable, which means next year it’s going to be one of the nicest little second division grounds around.

Innsbruck is using the same type of temporary stand to boost the numbers. The views are breathtaking from the top, but it felt a bit rickety even with just a handful of journalists wandering round. I don’t know what it’ll feel like when thousands of fans are crammed into it.

Salzburg is a steep-banked stadium which reminded me of the Boavista ground in Porto but that’s really where the comparison with Euro 2004 begins and ends. None of the grounds in Austria match up to the really spectacular venues from four years ago, places like Braga or the Luz stadium in Lisbon.

It was nice, then, to get a look at the beautifully reconstructed stadium in Zurich. It’s another ground with a running track, and I’m told one of the best places to watch athletics in Europe, but they’ve added their extra seats at the front rather than on top, meaning the fans will be pretty close to the pitch.

Basel is where the opening match between the Swiss and the Czech Republic takes place in a hundred days’ time. This is a boxy stadium, the most English of the grounds we’ve seen so far, and it comes complete with an old people’s home which looks out on to the pitch.

Later I’ll be in Berne before moving on to Geneva on Friday and all being well I should have more blogs/vlogs from there.

In the meantime, please feel free to comment on my vlogging debut, and let me know what you think about the Euro 2008 grounds. Predictions for the final anyone? My money’s on Portugal v Italy, but I’m always wrong.

Kevin Fylan

7 comments

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[…] Touring the Euro 2008 stadiums (Reuters Soccer Blog) […]

Posted by Daily Dose 2.28.08 – World Cup Blog – African Cup of Nations 2008 | Report as abusive

I am not a running track fan either – best atmosphere I have ever experienced was at Sevilla’s ground the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan http://www.stadiumguide.com/ramonsanchez .htm
where the fans are virtually breathing down the players and often crucially the referee’s neck. I think that is one of the reasons Sevilla have been so successful in Europe over the last few seasons.

Posted by Owen | Report as abusive

I very much prefer stadiums where the fans are really close to the field as well, although I can fully understand the security concerns to do otherwise. It’s just very different when fans can really banter with the players when they get close.

Posted by Soccer Rag | Report as abusive

[…] Kevin Fylan (Reuters Soccer Blog) on the Euro 2008 stadiums. […]

Posted by Soccerlens Daily: Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, Arsenal and Euro 2008 | Report as abusive

Hi Soccer Rag, yeah it’s great when the fans can get close enough to smell the grass. It’s funny that the stadiums in switzerland all manage to pull this off, but in Austria … not so much. I’ll have more on that in part II.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

hey,kev!congratulations for your video, you really have a talent for tv, please keep on!kisses from spain

Posted by Estef | Report as abusive

I really liked your piece, it´s great to be able to see multimedia and multitalented reporters! Hope you keep adding so much colour to Reuters blogs. Thank you.

Posted by Elena | Report as abusive

And this is supposed to be work! How about giving us tips about the top curry houses close to each stadium?

Posted by fiona | Report as abusive

Bing back Terraces!!!

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Blogging the Euro 2008 stadiums (part one) – Reuters Soccer Blog

A guide to the stadiums for Euro 2008

Posted by footballfilter.com | Report as abusive

[…] Kevin Fylan reported from Switzerland on the new stadium being built for the 2008 Euro Cup. The venue, he pointed out, was more made for track and field but it will be an interesting structure. When finished it will give the illusion of a giant sunken shell. […]

Posted by Euro 2008 Stadium Progress | Report as abusive