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Official Review by Peter Miles, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Niš (pronounced Neesh) is the third largest city in Serbia after Novi Sad and the capital Belgrade. The club Radnički Niš was formed in 1923. Radnički translates as "Workers" and the team originally played in a modest stadium called Čika Dača. The club progressed and were always a consistent member of the top division of the old Yugoslavian League and in 1981-1982 they reached the semi final of the UEFA Cup having eliminated Napoli, Grasshoppers, Feyenoord and Dundee United. They were drawn against Hamburg SV and Radnički won the first leg 2-1 in Niš. The second leg at the Volksparkstadion saw the Serbs collapse with a 5-1 defeat. Legend has it that the club accepted a bribe of a set of floodlights from the Hamburg chairman to throw the second leg.
A shock relegation in 1985 brought an end to a golden era for the club. Serbia's independence following the Balkan War saw the club in the top division of the new league, but by 2008 they had dropped into the third tier regional Srpska Liga East. Happily, by 2011-2012 they were back in the top flight and this coincided with a return to the home stadium Čair (Стадион Чаир), their home since 1963, which had undergone an €11 million revamp. However, not untypically the money ran out and some of the concourses are unfinished and there is no lighting in any of the lavatories! It is an impressive stadium though, and the second tier of the new stand offers fine views of the match and the city beyond.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
It is very common place in Serbian grounds for the only food available to be nuts and seeds sold by basket carrying traders who weave their way through the crowds throughout the games.
There are no outlets selling food and drink at all within the stadium.
Make sure you eat before you enter the stadium and be warned bottled drinks are not permitted in the stadium.
The home side has a small band of young looking "ultras" called the Meraklije which is the name given to anyone born in this province. The small group bangs drums and sings throughout the match.
The new stands are well constructed, but completely uncovered. The sightlines are great and the seats are comfortable. The old main stand is the only stand with a roof and this is where the VIP section can be found. There is a small scoreboard at one end of the stadium which just shows the score and stopwatch.
There is no music played at the stadium and a bored sounding announcer just reads the team line ups out just before kick off and that is it!
If the weather is good, then the new stand offers the best view with the curved stands behind the goal somewhat distant from the pitch. By contrast the main stand, though covered from the elements, is relatively small and cramped.
Niš has a bohemian quarter on the banks of the Nišava river opposite the imposing fortress. It's vibrant and busy with some excellent restaurants. I recommend having dinner at Katrin on the street called Klopitareva.
Other restaurants around the stadium include Visage (9 Brigade), and Dušanov Konak.
Niš Fortress, an 18th century castle on the right bank of the river Nišava situated on Duke Dinić is worth a visit if you'll be in the area for a couple of days.
If you are interested in history, then you may also want to visit Mediana, a Roman villa built by Constantine the Great located around Bulevar Svetog cara Konstantina.
Other attractions include the Nazi concentration camp on Bulevar 12 Februari, and the ancient ruins of Cele Kula (Skull Tower) located on Bulevar Dr Zorana Dindica.
If you are staying in the area, then some good possible accommodations include Hotel Panorama Lux on Svetolika Rankovica 51, or the Best Western on Kej 29 Decembar.
Modest in number for lower profile matches, but the ultras group have a strong reputation for bigger matches against the Belgrade clubs like Red Star and Partizan when the stadium will be packed and noisy.
The only games that attract well above average attendance are against Red Star and Partizan. Average gates are 4,000 to 5,000.
The ultras present are noisy enough and frankly brighten up a very dull match. They sing and bang drums throughout the match and are located in the end to the right of the main stand.
The stadium is very simple to find as the infamous floodlights are very tall and easy to spot. There is ample parking around the stadium.
The stadium is easily found next to the major city park, Park Cair, and the nearest bus stop is called Palilulska. In truth the stadium is an easy walk from the city center and fortress.
There are several car parks around the stadium, all of them are free and there is also free parking in the streets around the venue.
Body searching is in place at all entries. Once you are inside and in your chosen sector, you cannot move into another one. There is no special section for disabled fans.
For such a small entrance fee for a top division match you can forgive the lack of amenities once inside.
The stadium is easy to locate and quite an attractive stadium. It is well worth the entrance money. The lack of creature comforts inside the venue is a detraction from the overall experience.
Tickets are available from the ticket office on the new stand. Cost for less popular matches is just 200 RSD (approximately $1.85).
Standard entry is 200 RSD, and VIP entry costs 600 RSD (although these sell out quickly).
No programmes or merchandise are available at the stadium at all. Team sheets are available in the press area and VIP area.
The extremely low ticket prices are worth an extra point though.
While facilities inside the stadium are pretty basic, you will have to use the light on the phone while in the lavatories. Aside from that, the stadium is attractive and photogenic. I doubt you will see a top division soccer match anywhere in Europe for a price as low as this!
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Niš, Serbia 180001
+381 63 8339669
Cara Dušana 124 b
Niš, Serbia 18000
+ 381 (0) 18 308 340
Pop Luke Lazarevića
Niš, Serbia 18000
+381 18 521902
Bulevar Svetog cara Konstantina Rd
+381 18 550 433
Bulevar 12. februara bb
Bulevar Dr Zorana Đinđića