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St Mary's Stadium

Southampton, England

Home of the Southampton FC

3.7

3.3

St Mary's Stadium (map it)
Britannia Rd
Southampton, England SO14 5FP
United Kingdom


Southampton FC website

St Mary's Stadium website

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 32,689

There are no tickets available at this time.

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New Review: Southampton FC

In its 15th season since opening, St Mary's Stadium is hosting its 6th European fixture for Southampton FC - maybe it's finally time for the locals to call this ground home.

I attended the Europa League group stage fixture against the Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva and under LED floodlights, watched by over 30,000 fans, as both teams fought hard to progress into the knockout phase. As a four-star-rated UEFA stadium, it's the kind of fixture this place was built for. The Dell (1898-2001) of course holds the hearts of most Southampton fans over the age of 30 as a quirky, smaller ground that provided some big European nights of its own. Before that the Antelope Ground was home, but a plaque is all that remains on the edge of the RSH hospital grounds a mile from St Mary's.

The move to St Mary's in 2001 was a homecoming of sorts - the club originally hailed from that area of the city. Indeed its original name from 1885 was St Mary's Church of England YMA. This church team has certainly come a long way.

St Mary's stadium was built for around £32 million (compared to the estimated £390 million Emirates Stadium in London). In some ways you get what you pay for, since the ground differs little from similarly modern constructions found in Derby, Middlesbrough and Leicester. After the club was saved from extinction by the German-born billionaire Markus Liebherr the stadium has been looked after well and looks resplendent under the watchful eye of Ted Bates, the Southampton FC legend whose statue sits just outside the ground.

It's a bowl shaped stadium, just ten minutes from the city centre with two large screens at each end of the ground. The four stands are named after the areas of the city adjacent; the Chapel, Kingsland, Itchen and Northam. The latter two house the more vociferous home fans where you should expect to stand more than you sit. Away fans can have up to 3200 seats on one side of the Northam stand. On this occasion Hapoel impressively brought around 1000 fans and progressed after a tense 1-1 draw. More memories, albeit disappointing ones for most in attendance, continue to confirm this stadium is also ‘home’.

3.7

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

You may well decide to eat in the city centre or from one of the burger van outlets dotted around the perimeter of the ground. There is a (home) supporters bar under the Kingsland stand with a great variety of food including a decent jacket potato and chilli for just £3.50.

Inside the stadium the catering hasn't got any Michelin Stars but it's got what you need. Locally-sourced meat is used in the burgers, while the usual pies and confectionery items are on offer. Prices are in line with what you'd expect at a Premier League ground these days, but fast pour beer systems ensure the queues are not too bad for your half time pint. A local ale, tea, coffee and soft drinks are all available too.

The jacket potato with chilli and a pint of San Miguel is the recommendation if you can get into the supporters bar, which will set you back £8.

Atmosphere    4

St Mary's could never replicate the atmosphere of the Dell, where fans were so close to the pitch making it an intimidating place for visiting players. The roof can still be raised at times and when there is a sizable away support there can be some great banter between the fans. 'Oh When the Saints' is sung with a real passion as well as the other usual songs that do the rounds. It's the biggest ground south of London and definitely worth a visit.

Southampton were England's first club to install an LED lighting system which is cheaper, greener and gives a distinct look at these night matches. The playing surface is immaculate at all times of the season, the ground staff keep things interesting with a new grass pattern nearly every home game.

In late 2016 a brand new PA system was installed which, if you wanted to, you could probably hear from your hotel room! No marching bands these days, but the pre-match announcer Kenzie Benali is popular, not just because she is the daughter of Saints legend Francis Benali. Super Saint is the cuddly mascot, who, together with his son Sammy Saint raise a smile or two - put 'super saint gangnam style' into youtube and you will get the idea.

There isn't really a bad view in the whole ground although you will find it hard in rows a, b and c to get an overall impression of how the game is going. The sunsets seen from the Itchen and Northam corners are sometimes stunning!

Neighborhood    3

The stadium is not in the most salubrious area of the city but it is only a short walk into the town centre or to some waterside developments with accompanying bars and restaurants.

From 2017 the brand new West Quay Watermark development will be open with all the usual brands available like Zizzi, TGI, Jamie's Italian and Nandos. Fans tend to be spread out across the city for pre match beverages. The Grapes in Oxford Street is famous for being the last drinking den of passengers who boarded the Titanic which of course ended in tragedy. The Alexandra pub on Bellevue Road is worth a visit as are the three Wetherspoons pubs called the Standing Order, the Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis and the Giddy Bridge.

Whilst in Southampton check out the Mayflower Theatre, the Sea City Museum and go for a walk in any of the numerous green spaces that the city boasts. Keep an eye out for the huge cruise ships that visit the city regularly and a guided walk around the city walls will bring the city's history alive. If you want to venture slightly further afield then extend your stay by visiting the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and nearby beaches in Southbourne, Boscombe and Bournemouth. On Sunday head to Above Bar Church for a friendly welcome and great free coffee.

All the usual chain hotels are here. The Jury's Inn is in a great location for the stadium and the city centre. The Grand Harbour Hotel has an impressive glass frontage with great views of the Solent. The Pig in the Wall is just opposite which is a more homely experience than the hotels although no less heavy on the wallet!

Fans    4

The fan culture in the UK is second to none. Yes it lacks the 'tifo' choreography and the organised chanting of its European neighbors, and it can rarely be promoted as family friendly either, although grounds are far less intimidating here than they were 20 years ago. What you do get though is pure tribalism, humour (often coarse) and knowledgeable fans, and Southampton fans are no different.

No club on the south coast can match the large attendances at Southampton, which is regularly over 90% full each season (averaging over 30,000). This is about mid-level for the Premier League. Away from home Southampton take good numbers across the UK and have sold out allocations in Prague, Arnhem and Bucharest in recent years. In the local area Brighton and Hove Albion are the closest attendance wise, with over 25,000 regularly attending their games in the Championship. In the Premier League Bournemouth are the closest geographically but with a restricted capacity of under 12,000 they will soon be looking for a newer, larger stadium.

As in all UK grounds the away fans are often the most vociferous. On this occasion the Israeli fans were in good voice with the main home singing sections either side of them in the Itchen and the Northam. This game was almost too tense to be raucous but with the match on a knife edge both fans supported their sides passionately. Songs other than 'Oh When the Saints' are normally aimed at individual players and the club's saviour Markus Liebherr.

Access    4

Access is excellent within the stadium and there are numerous links to Southampton via air, rail and road. The area around the ground will get busy after games, particularly on the main routes out of the city.

A train from London Waterloo takes an hour and 10 minutes. The ground is a 15 minute walk from Southampton Central train station. Flights arrive at Southampton Airport, and you can take a train from outside the airport (Southampton Parkway) to Southampton central in just a few minutes. Drive to Southampton via the M27 or M3.

If you head towards the city centre you can park in any of the numerous city centre car parks. Nearer the ground look out for makeshift car parks or head out over Northam Bridge and park in Centurion Industrial Estate. Follow the directions on your ticket to gain entry. You can expect to be searched and your bag checked but this is routine in the UK and stewards are friendly and courteous.

You can use the concourse areas to get a drink, use the toilet or place a bet. The concourse areas are roomy enough but expect to queue for the toilet at busy times. If you have any accessibility requirements contact the club before you visit.

Return on Investment    4

The Premier League is expensive compared to German football or UK non-league football, but it's an exciting league and Southampton is in the more expensive south east area of the country. It's a modern stadium, well organised and the clubs social media platforms provide all the info you need to have a positive visit. Away fans pay a reduced cost of just £20 in 2016/17 - there's a decent ROI!

It's just over £30 for the cheapest adult price at St Mary's and season ticket holders of course get an even better deal. For a one time visit a cup game could be the way forward as tickets are often reduced to just £10 or £15. Refreshments will always be more expensive in and around the ground though, and when you add a £4 matchday programme Premier League football is an expensive animal these days.

Sponsors Virgin Media are helping discount away fan tickets to just £20 this season. This is in response the excellent 'twenty is plenty' campaign, although most clubs only reduced to £30.

Extras    3

Tours of the stadium are available and there is a large megastore for your merchandise needs.

Final Thoughts

Southampton has a strong maritime history and you will find more than enough to keep you entertained if you visit for a weekend. On the football front they have always been entertainers, except a brief spell under Ian Branfoot who didn't quite understand that tradition. The club's best player, Matthew Le Tissier, is still a fan of this friendly club and often attends games. The team is flying high these days after a dip into the lower leagues in the mid 2000s and although this evening saw them exit the Europa Cup, this home of South Coast football has many great nights ahead of it.

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Crowd Reviews

Proud St Mary's

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

St Mary's Stadium has been the home of Southampton F.C. since 2001, and is situated close to the city centre of Southampton. With a capacity of 32,689, it is a UEFA 4-star rated stadium. It is the largest football stadium at the south coast of England.

The need for a new stadium became more and more apparent in the 1980s when the club was among the best sides in English football. At that time, Southampton F.C. played at The Dell, which only had a capacity of just 15,000 seats. Obviously, this was unworthy of Premier League standards. The city council offered the club the chance to build a new ground on the disused gas work site in the heart of the city, about one and a half miles from The Dell.

The move was cited as the club "returning home", because the club was formed by members of the nearby St. Mary's Church as the football team of St. Mary's Church Young Men's Association before becoming Southampton St. Mary's F.C., and eventually Southampton F.C. So, it’s no wonder that the stadium was named St Mary’s Stadium. This piece of history also explains why the club is nicknamed "The Saints".

The stadium, which cost £32 million to build, is a complete bowl, as all stands are equal in height. There are two large video screens at each end. The stadium has four stands, each named after neighbourhoods of Southampton in which the entrances themselves face. The eastern grandstand, named the Itchen Stand as it faces the River Itchen, is considered the main stand since it contains all the executive boxes, press area, a police room, and even four hospitality suites named after players considered to be the Saints' greatest: Bobby Stokes, Terry Paine, Mick Channon, and Matt Le Tissier. The stand across the pitch from the Itchen is called the Kingsland Stand, while the south goal rests in front of the Chapel Stand, and across the pitch is the Northam Stand.

32,363 fans were at the 28 April 2012 Saints match against Coventry City, the record attendance at St Mary's. If needed, the stadium was built to be able to expand to around 50,000 seats.

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