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Official Review by Jason Marquitz, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Like many countries in the Americas, the roots of Mexican soccer can largely be tied back to the British. Cornish miners settled in the state of Hidalgo and brought their mining expertise to the silver mines in the area. Along with their knowledge of the trade, they brought other aspects of their culture, including soccer. CF Pachuca was first formed in 1901 by these immigrants. Their mascot, the Tuzos, still carries on this tradition. Tuzos are gophers. This is also a slang term for people who spend plenty of time under the earth (i.e. miners). Pachuca, the capital of Hidalgo, still carries many cultural characteristics from these British settlers. Unwavering support of their football club could easily be considered another.
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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".
There's not a lot of food to speak of inside the stadium. The general Mexican fare of fried chicharrones, potato chips, popcorn, and peanuts are readily available. Anything of more substance is tougher to come by.
Soft drinks and beer are inexpensive and easily obtained through the large number of vendors roaming the aisles. The large volume and low price of these can ease in the lack of other concession items.
The approach to Estadio Hidalgo is very much a unique experience. Built on a plateau of rock, the stadium overlooks a large swath of Pachuca, including the overlooking mountains.
This setting while creating a beautiful backdrop to the stadium also makes a windy environment. Both inside the stands and the surrounding area outside of the grounds feel significantly colder than the general temperature in the city. The seating area is partially covered with the seats closest to the field on the bottom level being exposed to the elements. With the majority of games occurring in the evenings, the only fear with this would be rain.
The stadium is exceptionally constructed with the thought of the audience's viewing experience in mind. The field is in close proximity to the stands. The pitch and the seating is in perfect balance to optimize this without feeling overly steep. The grass surface is of the highest quality and is obviously well looked after. There wouldn't be too many visitors who would find themselves disappointed with their view of the field, no matter their seat location.
Ticket prices vary and are dependent upon the type of match, date, and popularity of the opposition. However, for even the higher demand tickets, the prices remain very reasonable. The lower ring is divided into two price categories for the sides and the ends. The upper ring ticket costs are based on price value. For the match I attended, the prices were 250 pesos, 150 pesos, and 75 pesos respectively (appx. $20. $12, $6).
The stadium features some newer amenities from its recent update, but in a strange fashion. Two large video screens are located on the ends in the upper façade. However, these screens display commercials from the team's sponsors throughout the entirety of the match. Without any other scoreboard, your eyes are drawn to the boards hoping to see a game clock, but are left with only options on where to buy quality cement. The lack of a game clock or scoreboard of any kind is an odd quirk in this modern stadium.
The stadium is located along a major thoroughfare in Pachuca. The area around the stadium is more shaped by the traffic artery than by the stadium itself. In the immediate vicinity, there isn't a lot to speak of in the name of food or entertainment. In fact, there appeared to be very little that was open for business in the evening.
Pachuca is known to be a relatively safe city and the area around the stadium matches that thought. Significant numbers of families attended the matches with a great number walking to the stadium.
Estadio Hidalgo boasts a crowd that is focused yet low key. The majority of the fans are what I would describe as ardent supporters of the club. There aren't many people stepping away from the action once the game commences. They are also a mixed group of fans with all age ranges represented by decent numbers. The home fans are also largely accepting of visiting supporters. The match I attended saw visiting supporters scattered through every section without any apparent problems.
There are several chants that occur throughout the crowd during the course of the match. By far the most prevalent is also the most basic. The repetition of "Tuzos, Tuzos, Tuzos" in fast succession is a mainstay throughout the match.
The stadium is easily accessible in the city of Pachuca. It is roughly a two hour drive from Mexico City, but this time is highly dependent upon traffic. It is incredibly simple to get to the stadium as the road to the stadium becomes the highway to Mexico City outside of town.
Parking can be a little tricky. The stadium is surrounded by a pretty sizable parking lot, but access to this lot is a touch murky. There is some open parking for a modest fee, but access is restricted at various times by security. Many attendees park along the various side streets that surround the stadium, wherever a car-sized space can be found. If driving to the stadium, it's advisable to allot extra time to find a suitable parking spot.
Security at the stadium is fairly low-key, with the standard check for unwanted items. Finding your seat once entering the stadium could be a little trickier. There is very little signage inside the stadium and the section locations are murky. Seating attendants are available, but not super helpful if you happen in to the wrong section. Seat numbers are indicated on the seat backs, but there is no apparent row numbers anywhere in the stadium. Hence, finding your seat independently is apparently impossible.
There are assigned seats for the majority of the lower ring of the stadium, but it's only loosely followed. It appears that many fans don't try overly hard to find their seats and pick whatever seats are available. In fact, many of the stairways became the de facto seats for large groups of fans.
Pachuca is one of the most successful and historic clubs in Mexico. They generally put forth a competitive, if not superior squad. With the prices as low as they are, this stadium experience is an absolute bargain. There aren't a ton of frills, but it presents the opportunity to see top quality soccer in a beautiful environment. Seeing a match here is absolutely worth the trip.
Credit must be given to whoever is controlling the audio inside of the stadium. Throughout the course of the halftime proceedings, a sampling of songs from various Rocky soundtracks was played over the PA. This was well received, at least by me.
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