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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Riverside Stadium was opened in 1995 following Middlesbrough's relocation from their historic but outdated Ayresome Park home a little over a mile away. The Riverside was one of the first newly built larger stadiums within Britain at that time and now has an all seated capacity of 35,100. The stadium has nearly reached its capacity on a number of occasions during Boro's time in the English Premier League but the stadiums record attendance is 35,000 for England's game against Slovakia in June 2003 whilst Wembley was being rebuilt. The stadium is completely enclosed with the West Stand being slightly larger than its counterparts. The old Ayresome Park gates are located directly outside the main entrance to the stadium keeping the clubs links to the past.
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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".
Once inside, the stadium is well populated with food and drink kiosks offering the normal range of stadium food. Hot drinks £2.00, pies £2.70, Chips £2.00 and Hot Dogs £3.00 are a selection of what is on offer. Meal deals are also available to purchase.
Having been to the Riverside on many occasions, it is a stadium that is lacking in atmosphere since Boro's relegation from the top flight of English football. When full it rivals any other venue in Britain, but the club's poor form on the pitch since the heady days of signing famous international super stars and the hard economical climate within the north east of England of late has seen thousands of seats remain empty on match days.
The approach to the stadium is well populated with places to eat and drink. The retail park situated near to the stadium has McDonalds, KFC and Frankie & Bennies. Also near here is the Doctor Browns Public House which is a pre match drinking venue for many fans.
The Town Centre is a mere ten minute walk from the stadium and the normal range of Coffee Houses and Restaurants can be found here. Although Middlesbrough has the major high street shops, it is a drab town centre and not one to rush to unless you have other reasons to be there. Middlesbrough's most famous landmark is its Transporter Bridge and although the town is not a tourist attraction, its surrounding countryside and market towns certainly are. The closure of the steel works has hit the town hard and various regeneration projects are on the go, however despite this, Middlesbrough folk are a friendly bunch and guarantee you a friendly welcome.
Like most clubs, Boro have their hard core loyal supporters and it was these that got the club through in the late eighties when the club fell on hard times and even had the gates to Ayresome Park locked by the Administrator, meaning that the club had to play a few games at the ground of nearby Hartlepool United. Local rivals are Sunderland and Newcastle United and games against these clubs are often heated affairs both on and off the pitch.
If travelling by car, take the A66 from the A1 or A19 major trunk roads towards the Town Centre. The stadium is well signposted. Although there are no public car parks at the stadium there is a free park just the other side of the railway line by the Retail Park. There are also plenty of other Town Centre car parks within a ten minute walk. If arriving by rail then the station is situated in the Town Centre on Albert Road.
Boro's prices are the norm for Championship football in England and the club do their best to keep prices down, being mindful of the high unemployment rate in the area following the closure of the Steel Works. Prices start at £25, but be aware the club do operate a match grading system where prices are higher for some games.
Stadium tours are available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and are good value at £6. Betting facilities are available inside the stadium and a match day programme is produced for each game priced £3.00. There are also various Fanzines for sale on the approach to the stadium. The club's large megastore at the stadium also sells a wide range of merchandise.
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135 Corporation Road
Middlesbrough, England TS1 2RR
01642 213 213
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