City of Manchester Stadium.
I was privileged to have a personal tour of the stadium after I
had asked to take pictures for Duncan
Adams' ground guide so here are some random factoids for your
The pitch is currently being injected with plastic grass. This
apparently makes the pitch tougher and helps to support the freshly
sown real grass as it grows. The plastic grass only sticks up a
few centimetres so the mowers don't touch it when they cut the real
grass. It has been tried successfully at Millwall and Spurs.
As my guide showed me into the stadium we passed a huge open plan
office area with people milling round doing City things. "So
this is admin operation" I said. "Nope, this is just marketing"
my guide told me.
The lower concourses are huge with bars and food outlets all over
the place. There are so many bars in the stadium when you include
the special suites that it looks like we must all be alcoholics.
As you get higher the concourses get narrower towards the top of
the pyramidal space inside the stadium. TV cameras will be installed
in the concourses so we can watch the noon KO's.
The view from ground level is good and the stadium looks good but
the view from the top of East or West stand is spectacular as you
see of the curvaceous roofline, the supports and the Manchester
The eight "San Siro" spiral ramped access towers have
large toilets in the middle at the entrance/exit points. There are
There is lift access but it's in the restricted areas so you'd
have to have a pass.
Not absolutely sure about this one, but I think the capacity is
down to 47,500.
My suspicions that the first rows of seats will get wet were confirmed.
My guide has no proof of this but he too thought the first 20 rows
(which includes my seat) would suffer with rain being blown in when
it's pouring. The stadium roof is so high that this is inevitable
unless extended to cover a margin of the pitch. So take wet weather
gear in January if your seat row is A to T.
The seats for the hoi polloi are ordinary laser blue bucket type
with leg room. Hallelujah! There is leg room for people over six
feet tall! If you enjoy corporate facilities your seat is cushioned
to protect your gluteus maximus. But if you're a director you get
a deep blue armchair with extra long seat. These are very comfy
and during a match with say, Charlton Athletic to pick a side at
random, I would definitely go to sleep. The seats are so long, that
if you are over six feet like me your knees are forced to touch
the seat in front. I always thought of directors as small fat guys
with tender bums and inferiority complexes and this reinforced my
Of no consequence to most of us is that the boardroom has a very
nice oval wooden table of the usual type but with purple, yes, purple
seats. Now I'm no fashion guru but that purple simply shouts at
the redness of the fake mahogany darling. The chairman has his own
personal reception room and private bar of course.
Although the running track has gone, there is a quite wide blue
"tarmac" area round the pitch.
The letters MCFC are not spelt out anywhere in the seats which
are solid laser blue. The fact that City have taken over the stadium
is currently very understated with no big Manchester City sign anywhere
to be seen.
There will almost definitely be no scoreboard at first although
there is a place for one. The quotes City have been given for installing
a scoreboard of appropriate size and quality make it too expensive
for now. I hadn't realised how much refitting of the hundreds of
rooms, bars food outlets City have to do and pay for. Once it was
handed over to City with the major work done, there remained a huge
amount of fitting all to be paid for at a time when the club has
no income. Expect no "transfer fee" singings, the money
just isn't there.
The cells won't be used, as we have no "jailers" licence!
When you get your ticket as a card holder, ISC member or Season
ticket holder you will get a supporters guide. This excellent little
pamphlet shows how to get to the stadium by various means and details
the buses you can catch. The walking route from Piccadilly station
will be stewarded and will take about 20 minutes (for me, 30 minutes).
There are various cycle routes and there will be Cycle stands for
you to park your bike. (It reminds me of the early days: bike to
Maine Road and pay nine pence to store it in one of the backyards
near the Kippax Car Park).
City are looking to accredit car parking facilities all over the
area and hope to identify 10,000 such spaces. It seems that the
spaces at the stadium itself will only be for the corporate dudes.
I have parked in streets near the stadium in the past but City say
it will be residents only so don't assume you could find street
parking near the ground. This is going to a problem folks.
The normal traffic on Alan Turing Way and Ashton New Road is such
that it is bound to clog up near kick off. These roads are never
quiet like Lloyd Street could be. So arrive early. No - make that
very early until we get to know how parking and congestion problems
will be solved. Signs to "Sportcity" get you there in
the end. My advice to those coming from outside the city and who
don't know their way across the City centre via the Mancunian Way
(A57M) is to use the M60 - longer perhaps, but simpler to navigate.
In future years things will get better. The metro route to the
stadium has been excavated although there is no track yet. This
should be in place in two years time and I believe it will link
the main stations to Eastlands.
The metro station which will serve the stadium is part way down
a very wide access redolent of Wembley Way. Seeing thousands of
blue clad fans wandering up this wide access route will be some
Close up to the louvered vents in the corners you can experience
a howling draft - part of the stadium design of course. The vents
are opened by ground staff to assist drying in wet weather between
games. Together with the transparent roof extensions more light
should also get to the pitch. Overall there is a good chance that
this extra ventilation and wind will help avoid dreadful pitches
like those at Stamford Bridge and OT.
I mentioned the new ticket arrangements in a previous issue but
it seems that away fans will get a paper ticket with a chip embedded
so that they too can use the proximity card system. Season ticket
holders get a plastic one with name, customer number, seat number
etc. printed on it. That detail will be on a paper receipt for occasional
(card holder/ISC) fans who will have to bring their plastic card
to open the "turnstile" and their paper receipt to know
where to sit.
The players' changing rooms look excellent and there are both baths
and showers. Across the corridor is the player's reception area
with a crèche and all mod cons. What I was not expecting
was the grassed (plastic of course) indoor warm up areas. It looks
like a bit of pitch inside the stadium with the home side warm area
bigger than that of the away side.
As has been said before the away team coach will drive straight
inside the stadium before the players disembark.
The super store called Reebok City looks good and will shortly
be open for business.
The Barcelona game on 10th August which is for Season ticket holders
only I was told, isn't the first one at Eastlands - but don't worry
you aren't missing anything. The first team play the reserves behind
closed doors at Eastlands on August 6th. Bit puzzled about the Barca
Season Ticket holders only thing. I would have thought City needed
The stadium is not nearly ready in my inexpert opinion. To get
a safety certificate they will have to remove the debris and builders
rubbish from the site but inside City will have done very well to
fit out the stadium and repair trivial damage done by builders -
I saw four ripped cushioned seats which had only recently been installed.
There will be large open areas which don't have cars parked on them.
These will be built on in future. There are plans for a huge hotel
to go up in between the stadium and Alan Turing way a bit like the
There will be a Season ticket holders Open day 27th July noon until
In conclusion I saw the stadium and its complex in those inevitably
frantic days before an unmoveable deadline but I'm sure that when
the season starts this will be simply one of the best if not the
best stadium in the land. It won't be the biggest but the special
features, the integration with both community and other sporting
venues makes this a so much better planned facility for both City
and for Manchester than we could ever have got by rebuilding Maine