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Official Review by Sasa Grujic, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Gradski Stadion (or City Stadium) is a multi-use venue in the northern Serbian city of Subotica. It is home to two Serbian football clubs, FK Spartak and the women`s club, ŽFK Spartak. Also one of the tenants of the stadium is athletic club Spartak. Despite the official name, Spartak is a common name for the stadium used by fans and locals.
FK Spartak was founded in 1945 and throughout its history the club has mostly played between the first and second league. In the last decade they have even played in the third rank of the competition, but after a merger with the local club Zlatibor Voda they have come to better times. In the 2009-2010 season the club achieved its highest placing, winning 4th place and playing in the UEFA League qualifications. The club has played in the national cup final twice, but without trophies.
Women`s ŽFK Spartak was founded in 1970 under the name Željezničar, but was later renamed Spartak. The club has won six national titles and four national cups. In recent years, they have been a regular participant in the Women's Champions League. Twice the club hosted qualifying tournaments of the Champions League at Gradski Stadion.
The stadium was opened on 6 June 1936. It served as a place for the Sokol movement rally of that year. Until World War II the stadium was known as “stadion Kralja Petra II” (King Peter 2nd Stadium). It was built by leveling and filling the stands in the form of a rectangle, therefore the pitch itself is below ground level.
During the years, it has gone through several renovations. In 1972 concrete was added for the stands. In 1978 new facilities were built with dressing rooms and a gym, and the stadium received a tartan running track and the new lounge. A few years ago, in the eastern and central west, new plastic seats were added, and in 2014 the big old scoreboard was replaced with a new smaller digital scoreboard.
It is expected that floodlights will be added in the near future.
The current capacity of the stadium is 3,500 seats and along with terracing the total capacity is around 13,000. During the 1980s, the stadium held two matches of the national team and several youth national teams matches, including the European Youth Championships in 1986. During that period the stadium was able to hold up to 25,000 spectators.
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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".
When it comes to drink you will be disappointed, because laws in Serbia prohibit the use of beer and other alcoholic drinks in and around the stadium on the day when a match is played. Located below the central boxes on the west stand is a café where you can buy tea or get a glass of water. The guys from security at the entrance of the stadium do not allow any drink to be brought into the stadium, not even water in plastic packaging.
As with many multi-purpose stadiums, the atmosphere for soccer matches is somewhat lost due to the pitch being surrounded by a running track.
One of the main characteristics of the Gradski Stadion in Subotica is its rectangular shape. The pitch is separated from the stands with the running track so if you try to sit in the corners of the stands you will be very distant from what is happening on the pitch. Some parts of the stands in the corners are prohibited to use, so it makes little difference. Regularly the eastern stand and central part of the western stand are in use, while the stands behind the goals are reserved for hard core fans; north for home supporters and the southern stand for away fans.
Although this is not the case for the 2015-16 season, before the match a fan song could be heard through loudspeakers, and a mascot named "Blue pigeon" was entertaining around the pitch. At the half time there is usually a raffle for fans who bought tickets, and prizes are club souvenirs and merchandise.
The central part of the west stand is the only covered portion, and provides protection from the sun in the summer months or protection from the rain.
The club headquarters are located downtown, while the stadium is located around the perimeter of the settlement of Prozivka, directly opposite the city hospital. Around the stadium there is nothing that could be recommended as an option for food and drink.
Within a one mile walking distance there is Prozivka promenade with several old and new coffee shops and bars, and with some new restaurants that are worth a visit. Cafe and restaurant "All'oro" and the pizzeria "Don" stand out from the crowd. Most main courses (including pizzas, pasta, grills etc) cost from 370 to 740 dinars (1Rsd=120€), pancakes are 1-2€ and even lovers of cocktails can find something for themselves.
The center of the city is around 2.5 miles away, and there are many more options for food and drink. If you want more of a "fancy" option, then maybe Bosscaffe is for you. If you prefer pljeskavica or ćevapi (famous Serbian meatballs), then "Best," more of a fast food option is a good choice. There are many more options from which it is difficult to choose only one.
Many historical attractions and facilities built in the spirit of Art Nouveau are located in the center of the city, but also worth a visit is the town of Palić, situated about five miles away. Regular bus city line No.6 can take you there. Palić and the Palić lake in the early 20th century were known as a spa resort and host of Palić Olympics.
Also, there is a Palić Zoo which occupies 10 hectares of land. If someone wants to try old, authentic dishes, then you can find them in the restaurant "Mala gostiona." The curiosity is that the current establishment opened back in 1852, and is the forerunner of today's restaurant on the lake shore in the same place.
Overnight prices for three hotels, all in the city center, are moderately high with prices from 40€ per night for single room. Numerous private accommodation and hostels allow something cheaper with prices starting from 15€. Lodging options in the immediate area of the stadium do not exist, so the center of the city is probably the best choice.
Fans, as an organized group, came to the scene in 1989. It was at this time that the first large supporter section emerged, and the group adopted the name "Blue Marines" or simply Marinci (Marines).
Football (soccer) in Subotica has remarkable popularity and a long, very rich tradition. Nevertheless, these days attendance is below average. Only for matches against the eternal rivals (common name for Partizan and Red Star) will attendance reach 5,000-7,000. For most other matches the attendance is below a thousand, and perhaps only a few hundred. It could be said that the audience is somewhat spoiled.
General hard core fans are both loyal and loud. They are engaged throughout the game and stay involved. The rest of the audience show only mild interest and cheer only during big moments.
Overall the stadium is easily accessible from any direction. When entering the city from the south, there are plenty of signs leading to, as it is written on them, "town stadium." From the north, you just need to follow the main road that runs through the city and the stadium will appear on the left side of the road.
If you prefer public transportation, from the downtown train station you can take bus No.16, which leads to the main entrance of the stadium (west side). From the main bus station you can take bus No.1 that leads to the city hospital, which is located across the street from the stadium. Bus tickets cost 90 dinars. Also, in less than half an hour the stadium can be reached by foot from the city center.
The stadium does not have arranged car parking. There is a little place near the entrance to the east stands and a large meadow between the west and south. Also nearby is a hospital parking lot and a little further is a large parking lot near the supermarket.
Tickets are available at the box offices around the stadium with the main window on the west side. It is possible to buy tickets by presale at the club premises in the city center. Entry into the stadium is usually fast, considering the number of viewers lately, after the usual search for safety.
Outside the stadium, the path through the woods leads from the west to the east side. Also inside the stadium, in part from its enclosure to stands, there is an earthen path which leads in the same direction. Right away to the left of the main entrance there is a toilet, which has seen better days.
On the eastern side is access for those who need assistance with mobility.
Lately, the quality of soccer has not been very good at Gradski Stadion, but in any case you are seeing the major league at such a low price, so it is difficult to refuse such an experience.
For any ticket you will only have to pay a couple of euros, depending on the stands and sometimes the opponents. The regular price is 200-300 dinars while for matches eternal rivals you will have to pay a few hundreds more. The match program is free of charge, but contains only four pages.
There are not a lot of other options besides watching soccer in Subotica, but the cheap admission and that feeling when you walk into the stadium with the pitch below you is still priceless.
One extra point for almost 80 years of existence of this stadium and 70 years of playing soccer at the same place. There's a lot of history at this old ground.
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Subotica, Serbia 24000
+381 24 515100
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