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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Metalist Stadium is home to the Ukrainian Soccer team F.C. Metalist and is located in the city of Kharkiv. The team is a member of the Ukrainian Premier Liha. The team has finished in third place in the league for six consecutive seasons (2007-2012). Metalist Stadium has an all seated capacity of 38,633 and was originally built in 1926 but has been reconstructed for the 2012 European Football Championships which took place in Poland and the Ukraine.
The stadium’s original construction was of four separate stands, but following renovation it is now one complete stand built with the corners filled in. The complex’s main features are the external goal post frame supports to each stand that protrude out to the stadium’s concourse. Original parts of the stadiums brickwork have been retained in the new build which enables the stadium to retain some of its original decor. Floodlights are suspended to structures at the top of each stand with all of the stadium’s steel work being painted blue.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The prices are extremely cheap and the food is also of good quality. Potato and mushroom pies were priced at 15 Hryvnia, sandwiches 12 Hryvnia, cherry strudel 12 Hryvnia, and tea and coffee also at 12 Hryvnia. There are plenty of food outlets on the stadium's concourse and queues were not a problem despite large crowds.
I attended a game at Metalist Stadium during the 2012 European Championship. On this occasion, as it is with most events of this nature, the atmosphere was electric and the stadium's design helped retain the noise levels the Holland and Denmark supporters generated. I'm informed that Metalist supporters are very vocal so one would imagine that for a normal league game a visit to the Metalist Stadium can be very intimidating.
Kharkiv is a typical ex-Russian city and has little to offer visitors from overseas. Hotels for EURO 2012 were in short supply and most supporters stayed in other cities and travelled in.
Nowadays Kharkiv is known for being a city of Russian speaking scientists and engineers. The city's main attraction is Ploshcha Svobody a large square that locals claim is the second largest in the world behind Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Shevchenko Park is another area where locals enjoy their time during the summer months. The main shopping area has a variety of shops and Verssay Café and Metropol Café both located near Universytet Metro Station can be recommended. Eating out in the Ukraine is really cheap compared to most European countries. A three course meal in a restaurant will only cost about the equivalent of £10 for good quality food and drink.
Having a wonderful stadium is a great advantage for the fans, and the Kharkiv fans are supportive of their team in return.
Kharkiv's transport links have been upgraded for EURO 2012. This includes the airport where internal and external flights arrive and depart daily. The city has rail connections to all major cities, but be aware that distances in the Ukraine are vast and overnight sleeper trains are sometimes needed.
Just in time for the tournament the Ukraine took delivery of a dozen or so high speed trains that have reduced travel times by half. For example Kiev can now be reached within four and a half hours. The city's metro system is efficient and the stadium can be reached by one of the following three stations, Sportyvna, Metrobudivnykiv or Zavod im Malysheva which are all within walking distance.
Tickets for the EURO's ranged between 30 and 120 Euros per game and for a tournament of this stature represent decent value as you are watching some of Europe's top stars. Like their neighbour Russia, the Ukraine is starting to attract some of Europe's cream to their league and it remains to be seen if this leads to an increase in admission charges for normal league games. Currently admission to Metalist games will be cheap to the foreign visitor compared to attending games in the English Premiership and Spain's La Liga. Overall, a trip to watch Ukrainian football in good stadia is excellent value for the money.
F.C Metalist operate an excellent website which is available in four different languages. On here you will find information on stadium tours and their club shop. For EURO 2012 a tournament programme was available in Russian and English priced at £5.
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50 Sumskaya St
Kharkiv, Ukraine 61000
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