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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The GelreDome is a football stadium and event complex situated in the southern part of the city of Arnhem, The Netherlands. On the 25th of March 1998 the 29,600-capacity stadium was opened. The stadium is mainly used as the home of football club Vitesse Arnhem of the Eredivisie. It has also hosted events like pop concerts, conferences and fairs. Some of the greatest artists (Madonna, U2, Paul McCartney and Tina Turner) have performed at the GelreDome. Nowadays the capacity is 25,500 for football games and just over 40,000 for concerts.
By the end of the 1980s there were plans to build a new stadium for Vitesse. At that time the club was playing at the old ‘Nieuw Monnikenhuize’ stadium which held a capacity of just 14,000 spectators. The main figure responsible for these plans was Karel Aalbers who later became president of Vitesse Arnhem. It would take until the 12th of July 1996 before construction work began to build the GelreDome.
Why is this stadium the first of its kind in Europe? Well, it has a retractable roof and a retractable pitch. The only other stadium in Europe which has both features is the Veltins-Arena the home of FC Schalke’04 in Germany. Veltins-Arena opened three years after the opening of the GelreDome.
The roof consists of two enormous light-proof domes which can be opened or closed as needed. The other feature is the retractable field. The three stands of the GelreDome are made of concrete, but the South Stand is made of steel. Under the South Stand is a hole which is 85 meters wide where the field, which lies into a heavy concrete box, can be shifted within six hours to the adjacent property outside the stadium.
The second floor of the GelreDome has a nearly 600-meter-long promenade around the entire stadium. The promenade is available for activities such as product presentations, fairs, markets, dinner buffets, and parties. Besides a couple of thousand business seats, the GelreDome accommodates on the fourth and fifth floor a total of 49 business units which can accommodate up to 12 guests each.
During the 2000 European Football Championship the GelreDome hosted three matches in the group stage (Italy-Turkey, Portugal-Romania, and Slovenia-Norway).
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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".
At the various counters inside the promenade of the GelreDome there is a very large choice of food and drinks. To pay for your food and drinks you need to have coins. These coins are available from the vending machines and cash registers outside and on the promenade inside the ground (these vending machines can be easily identified by their purple colour).
At the various counters you can buy Belgian fries, fresh fruit salads, focaccias with homemade tuna salad, artisan pizza with salami, mozzarella, tomato and basil, noodles, satay and other Asian dishes.
For drinks there is a large variety of beers and sodas, fair trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate with freshly baked cake, fruit juices and yogurt shakes. The prices of the food and drinks are reasonable.
The atmosphere inside the dome is what one would expect from a relatively new ground. All facilities are very good and meet the demand of the modern visitor. Whilst empty you can see the seats inside the ground are very colourful, the colour blue dominating in each stand.
With its light-proof domes, the stadium is perfect for hosting concerts. In the four corners of ground there are no seats but just walls, making the stadium less attractive for attending football matches.
In the nearby area around the stadium there is not much to do. At the parking area in front of the Main Stand of the GelreDome you will find a McDonald's restaurant.
Take a 10 minute walk and you will find the shopping centre 'Kronenburg.' There you can find some restaurants and additional fast food shops.
A better option is to go in the opposite direction, where you find the village of Elden. Here in the community centre are a couple of pubs (café De Betuwe and café Ons Huis), a snackbar and a couple of restaurants. Elden is situated on the south of the GelreDome and it takes you about 15 minutes by foot to get there. We parked our car here and had a few drinks and dinner in café-restaurant 'Ons Huis' (translated: 'Our Home').
Many of the Vitesse Arnhem fans which visit a match of their team are dressed in the yellow and black club colours. Their most fanatic fan group is called the 'Rijnfront.' They are housed in the South Stand of the GelreDome. This stand is nowadays called the 'Theo Bos tribune,' named after former player and manager who died of cancer at the age of 47.
The GelreDome is located on the south bank of the river Rhine, about 2.5 kilometres away from the city centre of Arnhem. When you arrive by car from the A12 motorway you can take exit 27 signposted Arnhem/Zutphen/Velp and then follow the N325 for about 7 kilometres (direction Arnhem). From there signs will lead you across the river Rhine towards the GelreDome. The stadium is easily accessible by car.
This is no problem buying your tickets online as Vitesse hardly ever sells out their home games. The ticket prices for European Cup matches are cheaper than regular league matches, probably because of the summer holidays (the match we recently attended was played on the 6th of August 2015). The ticket prices for this match start from € 10 for a seat behind one of the goals. Tickets for the Main Stand can be bought between € 21,50 and € 24,50. So attending a match here is a real bargain.
The GelreDome offers guided tours which can be attended for € 8.95 per person. There are also special guided tours for kids which can be attended for just € 6.
In the city of Arnhem there is plenty to do. They have a very nice old city centre with loads of pubs (De Korenmarkt), but there are also a lot of museums in the area, like the Nederlands Openlucht Museum (Dutch Open Air Museum), Nederlands Watermuseum (Dutch Water Museum), the Kröller-Müller Museum, as well as a large Zoo named Burgers' Bush.
When you are go to Arnhem for a football match or a pop concert try to combine your trip with a museum nearby. This is easy to do in one day. This unique stadium makes a trip to Arnhem a worthwhile experience.
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De Brink 9
Arnhem, The Netherlands 6842
+31 26 213 1598
Arnhem, The Netherlands 6842
+31 26 381 4340
Arnhem, The Netherlands 6816
+31 26 357 6111
Arnhem, The Netherlands 6814
+31 26 445 2548
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