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Official Review by Matt Rees, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The DW Stadium was built in 1999 as a home for Wigan Athletic soccer team. Wigan's previous home was Springfield Park, where most of the success came towards the end of their 67-year stay. The DW has a capacity of 25,133 and also provides a home for the Wigan Warriors Rugby League Team. Like most newly built stadiums in the Premier League, The DW is situated in the middle of a huge retail park.
Wigan Athletic are renowned for their quite remarkable climb from the 4th tier of English football (Football League 2) in 1995 to the English Premier League in just a matter of 10 years. In addition to this, Wigan's chairman, Dave Wheelan, is arguably the man who made this all happen when he took over the club that year. Wheelan is arguably one of the most famous and popular chairmans in English football history. Wigan have now endured seven consecutive years in the Premier League; in recent years, however, they have struggled to avoid relegation.
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".
Wigan can boast some of the best pies in Britain, and that's why I've given them full marks. The service is fairly quick, and the beer is to a good quality as well, which is a rarity in soccer stadiums. The usual food is served (sweets, crisps and hot dogs), but the delicious variety of pies are clearly the most popular option. The food and beverage prices are very reasonable, but if you aren't willing to eat in the ground, a huge fish and chip restaurant is situated just outside, and a couple of fast food outlets are in the retail park.
Unless Wigan play Manchester United or Manchester City, the atmosphere is pretty poor. Very rarely will Wigan have a sell out, and the only seats that get filled are the ones of the away supporters. The average attendance for Wigan is about 17,000 per game. However, for many games they will only attract about 13,000-14,000 fans. Most of the noise is made by a hardcore group of fans located at the side of the away supporters, constantly chanting and teasing them. Personally, I prefer a group of idiots like that. About 90% of the noise is made by the away support, which doesn't make the DW a fortress.
Years ago, Wigan was an industrial place, which can clearly be told walking to the ground. Many of the mines have been converted into deserted wasteland, which is now a yearround building site.
Despite this, the surroundings of the DW are fine with a safe neighbourhood and plenty of places to eat. The retail park includes a McDonalds, Burger King, and a Frankie and Bennies. The main attraction in the retail park is the "Red Robin", which is an away fans only pub, where you can enjoy a pre-match drink and pie.
Despite having a decent 25,133 seater stadium, Wigan has the worst attendance record in the Premier League. The only positive I can grab is the support of the young children that will nearly fill the Boston Stand every game. The poor attendances are understandable, though, as nearly every year Wigan are fighting for survival in the Premier League.
The DW is easily accessible via car by coming off from the M6 at Junction 25 and taking the A49 (Wigan Road). From then on, the ground is well signposted and a huge car park is just outside the ground. My only concern is when travelling by train. Once off the train, it's a 20 minute walk to the stadium, and the bus and taxi services are rather iffy and inconsistent.
Although Wigan don't play the most attractive football, the ticket prices are one of the cheapest in the Premiership. Ticket prices range from £10 for an "Under 16", £15 for a concession, and £25 for an adult. A family trip to the DW would not only be cheap, but you can say you have had the experience of watching a Premier League match!
Wigan has a club shop outside the stadium, and also programmes are on sale at £3.00. In addition to this, Wigan have a very good goalkeeper in Ali Al-Habsi and striker in Franko Di Santo.
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