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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Donbass Arena located in Donetsk, Ukraine is a newly constructed stadium built in 2009 at a cost of 400 million USD. The venue hosted five games for the 2012 European Football Championships. The stadium has an all seated capacity of 51,504 and is home to top Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk who previously used the Olympic Stadium little more than one kilometre away.
The stadium, along with the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, is the top sporting venue in the country and is truly a stadium that makes a difference. Circular in design, the stadium lights up in the club colours at night and the outer panels of the complex are made of glass. There is a mall like approach to the stadium similar to that of Wembley Stadium's Wembley Way. Once inside, the arena is made up of three separate tiers offering excellent viewing facilities from all areas.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food is of good quality at Donbass Arena in Donetsk. Hot food ranges from Chicken Nuggets and fries to local pies. Kiosks also sell a wide range of ice creams, sweets, confectionary and crisps etc. Food is very affordable.
My experience at the game I attended the atmosphere was superb and even when not full one would imagine the stadium design will hold any noise generated. On this occasion English and French, during the 2012 European Championships, supporters were joined by thousands of locals and Russians who had crossed the border to generate an occasion those present will find hard to forget.
The first thing that I will say is take no notice of the travel books. Donetsk has plenty to offer. Founded by Welshman John Hughes, the city is obsessed with all things British and is now becoming a home for the Ukraine's rich so be prepared to find prices slightly higher here than the rest of the country.
The Lenin Komsomol Park and the Donetsk Art Museum are the two main tourist attractions. The Donbass Palace Hotel was the Ukraine's first 5 star hotel and the Liverpool Art Hotel and food market is also worth a visit. The entrance to the complex houses an excellent statue of the Beatles. The city has good shops and the Sun City, located on Artemia Street, is just a ten minute walk from the stadium and is highly recommended for your pre match meal. Nearer to the city centre the Barberry Restaurant also serves up excellent food.
Shakhtar possess one of the larger supporter fan bases within the Ukraine and are known for being vocal and hostile during big games. Donetsk's other team F.C. Metalurh are the club's local rivals. However it is games against the Kiev teams and Metalist which generate most interest.
The Donbass Stadium is located in the Lenin Comsomol Park and is approximately a twenty five minute walk from the city centre. The city currently has no metro system but does have an excellent and efficient trolley bus and tram system.
In addition, Bus Taxis also operate and cost the equivalent of 20p to travel from one side of the city to the other. A brand new airport terminal 8 Kilometres from the city centre was built for EURO 2012 and the new high speed trains have reduced the thirteen hour journey to Kiev by half and represent good value. There are a few car parks in the vicinity of the stadium if travelling in by car.
Tickets to Shakhtar games are excellent value at 100 UAH, which is less than Ł10 in English currency. This is value for one's money in any circumstances for top flight football but represents excellent value when you are sat in a venue of this stature.
The stadium has two big screens, one located behind each goal, ensuring that you miss none of the action. Televisions are also evident within the stadium's concourse.
Stadium tours can be purchased for 250UAH. There is also a large club superstore within the stadium selling a wide range of club souvenirs.
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