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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Madejski Stadium is home to English Football Championship club Reading and is named after their Chairman Sir John Madejski. The stadium was built in 1998 following the clubs departure from their Elm Park residence of over one hundred years. The stadium has an all seated capacity of 24,161 and also hosts the home games of Rugby Union club London Irish.
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Once inside, the stadium is well served by food outlets selling a range of hot dogs, burgers, pies and stir fry noodles as the vegetarian option. A hot dog retails for £3.20 with tea and coffee priced at £1.50 per cup. Pepsi is slightly over priced at £2 a cup with lager costing £3 per pint. The kiosks also sell chocolate and crisps.
By Championship standards Reading are a well supported club with an average attendance of 18,000. However despite playing to a three quarters full stadium for most home games the atmosphere within the ground can at times be quite muted. The noise levels do increase against sides with large away followings, however this is mainly when Reading play local derbies or one of the bigger clubs.
The town of Reading is situated in the county of Berkshire and is a mere forty minute drive from London and Heathrow Airport. The stadium is within easy reach of Junction 11 of the M4 Motorway adjacent to the A33 which runs directly in to the Town Centre. The Mad Stad, as it is nicknamed locally, is a typical new British stadium development situated on the outskirts of town surrounded by retail parks. If it is here that you wish to while away the hours leading up to kick off then its visits to DIY Superstores that will be the order of the day. There are also fast food outlets here in the form of Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC . A better recommendation would be to take the three kilometre journey in to town where you will find the Oracle Shopping Centre with its selection of High Street stores, Bars, Coffee Shops and Restaurants including one from the Jamie Oliver range. These are located in the pleasant canal side area of the complex.
Reading supporters are not renowned for being the most noisy in the land, however the core fan base has grown from approximately eight to eighteen thousand since the club took up residence at the Madejski. Those supporters who wish to spend the duration of the ninety minutes singing and chanting congregate in the East Stand where it adjoins the South Stand, the end where away supporters are located.
The stadium is easily reached by car exiting Junction 11 of the M4 motorway which runs between Bristol and London. There is plenty of parking, but be aware that this is limited to two hours on the retail parks. The official car park is for season tickets and guests only, but paid parking is available for £8 per vehicle and is between a five and ten minute walk away. The nearest railway station is Reading Central and Bus 50 arrives and departs from directly outside the stadium.
Unless Reading are playing one of the big four then tickets for most matches can be easily purchased in advance over the internet or by arriving early on the day of the game. Ticket prices are £23 and £26 if purchased in advance but rise by £4 if bought on the day. There are discounts for under 16's and OAP's. This is the average cost of a ticket for the English Championship, however occasionally there are special offers for £10 in an effort to increase attendance.
There is the normal superstore selling a wide range of both Reading and London Irish merchandise situated by the main entrance to the stadium. A match day programme is available for all home games priced at £3. All sporting venues in Britain are now non smoking areas, however Reading allows supporters out onto the concourse at half time to enable smokers to get their fix, which is particularly needed when their team is losing.
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