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Official Review by Rich Carpenter , Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Sevilla FC are the reigning Europa League Champions having won the competition a record three times in a row. Although not as famous as the mighty Real Madrid and Barcelona, Sevilla are a prominent Spanish team who have featured heavily in European competition throughout their history.
The Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium, home to the club for 59 years, has a capacity of 42,500, although with its open-air features and double tiers wrapped around in a bowl-like construction the stadium appears to hold much more.
For its age the stadium is very well presented having had a major refurbishment in 2015, which included a facelift of the interior, improvements in the concourse facilities, as well as the replacement of the old red and white seats with new red-only seats giving the stadium a much more modern feel.
The stadium has played host to many International fixtures, including a group game between the Soviet Union and Brazil as well as a semi-final between France and West Germany during the 1982 FIFA World Cup. The 1986 European Cup Final was held in the stadium, won by Steaua București against fellow Spanish side Barcelona. The stadium also holds the unlikely record of playing host to the Spanish National Team and seeing them unbeaten in all 26 fixtures played there, winning 21 and drawing five.
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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".
Although a recent refurbishment of the concourse areas was completed there are limited food and drink options with only one small kiosk available to supporters within the away section. Soft drinks, snacks and hot dogs seem to be the only options available. With no signage advertising what is actually for sale and with a long queue to the only kiosk available I didn't waste my time queuing for something when I didn't know what was for sale.
The stadium is situated in a popular area of the city with many restaurants and bars including a shopping mall right on its doorstep so I'd certainly recommend grabbing a bite to eat or soaking up the atmosphere in one of the bars just outside of the stadium.
It seems a common feature amongst many European stadiums I have visited that food and drink options are severely limited within the stadiums. I can't comment for the home sections but I feel it's a trick being missed by the club not to explore multiple food outlets which would certainly help generate further income. As the game (of this review) was an evening kick off the majority of supporters would have been looking for food options and it certainly would have been a risk waiting until you were inside the stadium. Fortunately for me I came across a Pizza Hut on the way to the stadium!
The stadium has a traditional European feel to it with its completely open-air terraces and bowl-like stadium. A double tier wraps around the whole stadium with huge floodlight towers and advertising positioned on the top edge of the stadium. A giant scoreboard is positioned above the back rows at each end of the stadium offering an excellent view for all supports which displays action replays and the goals throughout the game.
The PA system is very clear and loud, offering English interpretations of all the pre-match team announcements as well as greeting all away support who had travelled. I am particularly impressed with the pre-match, half time and full time music playlist. Plenty of upbeat feel good music blasts out of the speakers which certainly has an impact on the lively atmosphere. It is good to hear a few classics too that Leicester City fans associates with their typical club songs which encourages everyone to sing along.
European Champions League fixtures see a typical trend inside stadiums with prominent advertising of the UEFA Champions League brand heavily featured throughout the entire stadium bowl with wraps and banners covering what would usually be normal club wide advertising. Pitch perimeter LED advertising is in place to conform to UEFA commercial guidelines for its worldwide TV audience. To me it looks smart and clean and shows off the stadium particularly well which is exactly what FIFA wants.
You will not get a bad seat here, with excellent views offered from every location within the stadium. The upper tiers are steep so I chose to sit on the very back row which offers an amazing view of the game. It also feels like you're very high up, especially as there is no roof to the stadium and by turning around you can see the city skyline and the streets below.... Probably not for those who get a bit queasy with heights!
The stadium is located in a busy area east of the centre of Seville. The fourth largest city in Spain, you have many different areas to choose from to visit whilst in this beautiful city and with an extensive bus and metro network, navigating the city is fairly simple with bus and tram stops all within the major areas of the city. It's a pleasant 40 minute walk from the stadium to the canal on the west side of the city where you'll take in many historic buildings including Seville's medieval cathedral as well as countless cafés, open plaza's, restaurants and bars within what is a thriving city.
There are too many places to mention for food and drink, though I would recommend either heading into the city centre via the Calle San Fernando where you'll find streets lined with orange trees and a good selection of cafés and restaurants. Follow this road further into the town and your options increase. You've got a wide variety of cuisines on offer including tapas and your typical fast food outlets such as Pizza Hut, Burger King & McDonalds.
For tourist attractions you've got the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, a 14,000-seater bull fighting arena, the 16th century Seville Cathedral, complete with horse and carriage rides available for tourists and the Alcazar of Seville - a regular residence of the Spanish Royal Family - just to name a few. If taking in an overnight stay I'd recommend staying in the city so you're close to all the local amenities. You'll be a 20 minute walk away from the stadium but you'll have good transport links to rely on should you not want to do too much walking.
Seville is home to a dedicated and passionate set of fans where you'll expect a lively atmosphere for whatever home game you decide to attend. Behind each goal you'll encounter the most dedicated of the supporters where the local Ultras are based.
You'll read stories about football hooligans associated with every football club and Seville is no different, having a fearsome reputation for violence amongst some of their most dedicated supporters. But on a warm sunny day attended by a reported 5,000 away supporters who drank, ate and sang in areas all around the city there was no violence and any interaction between home and away supporters was in good nature.
Around 39,000 fans attended this game, which is a few thousand below capacity but empty seats were sporadic and the stadium appeared full. Away fans were in full voice as were the home support, though with this being a European Champions League fixture the language barrier had an impact on the interaction with both sets of supporters. This is something you'd see much more frequently in a domestic fixture, but it did not affect the lively atmosphere. Average attendances for Seville home games are typically around the 30,000 mark with higher attendances expected for fixtures such as this one in European competition.
Moving around the stadium externally is fairly easy and something I'd recommend so you can take in the huge mosaic mural as well as see the stadium shell lit up in different colours. Inside, the areas and different sections are segregated which is typical of most European football stadiums to ensure opposing supporters are kept apart.
Access to and from the stadium is good with alternate transport links available to areas throughout the city as well as being a 10 minute walk from the main train station and just 10km from the airport which can be reached by bus or taxi.
Access via the correct turnstiles as indicated on your ticket is simple with entry points clearly marked in large numbers. Entry via the turnstiles is fairly straightforward, though I would always recommend arriving at least 15 minutes prior to kick off to ensure you get to your seat in time. A large security and police presence is evident around the stadium, in particular upon entering the away supporters section with numerous check points for body searching and ticket checking as you approach what is an open plan turnstile entry point.
I arrived in plenty of time with no queue at this point, though was a little unimpressed with the vigorous body searching techniques the police were using. I felt more like a convict entering a prison camp than I did a supporter entering a football match! I was situated in the upper tier and access was via a concrete stairwell which obviously would not be suitable for someone with walking difficulties though I did notice a number of disabled supports in the lower tiers which I assume had accessible facilities available on the concourse.
Football match ticket prices have steadily increased over the years reflecting in the enormous popularity of the sport, especially within the popular European leagues. Seville is no different and at Ł50 for a ticket, it's certainly one of the most expensive tickets I've purchased for an away fixture, but seeing as this was a round 16 Champions League fixture, the high ticket cost was to be expected.
Domestic league matches are typically on Sundays and ticket costs vary depending on where you purchase your ticket. Viagogo is one popular website selling legitimate match day tickets or you can attempt to purchase via the club's main box office.
Other than gaining access to the stadium to watch the main event there isn't really anything else available which makes the cost of the ticket a fair reflection of the value of entertainment received. Fan zones and fan parks are evident amongst most English football stadiums these days which encourage supporters to take part in a range of pre-match entertainment and activities on offer, but there is no evidence of any such activity at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán with much of the entertainment limited to the surrounding bars and restaurants.
I arrived at the stadium early and was surprised by the hub of activity from local traders which included market stalls selling club memorabilia including scarves, hats, and badges of both home and away teams. A club shop was also local to the stadium which was busy with supporters from both teams.
I noticed and took full advantage of a Pepsi truck giving out free samples to the hordes of supporters passing by and there were also food carts with locals selling food and drinks.
There seemed to be a real buzz around the stadium and many supporters had made their way to the game in plenty of time prior to kick off with many of the local bars, cafés and restaurants packed with supporters enjoying their pre-match drink or food.
Sevilla FC being a successful Spanish team playing in a very popular and competitive league is certainly worth a visit if not just for the football but to take in what is a large but very attractive city with orange tree-lined streets, many cafés and bars, friendly locals and warm sunshine. What else would a travelling supporter want... apart from a win!
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