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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Stade de Genève is home to Swiss soccer club Servette, known as "Les Grenats" (The Garnets). The venue also stages Switzerland and other international soccer games, in addition to rugby matches and many pop concerts. The stadium was built in 2003 at a cost of Fr. 240 million ($256.8 million, €194.2 million) in readiness for the Euro 2008 football championships, and has an all seated capacity of 30,084. The stadium is a single tiered bowl with a continuous curved roof and is hemmed in between the motorway and railway sidings. Seats are comfortable with plenty of leg room and the stadium is part of the hotel and business centre complex that adjoins it.
(Note: All price equivalents listed are as of June 2013.)
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".
For a modern stadium, the food and drink kiosks are not of the quality of some of the world's other new builds, and the selection of food on offer is not that varied for a top venue. However, what is available is of good quality and the Donor Kebabs are excellent. Hot, cold, and alcoholic drinks are also available, but as with elsewhere in Switzerland, buying food and drink out is not cheap.
I have to admit this is difficult to judge. When full, I would imagine the atmosphere to be good. However, for Servette games where crowds are often less than 5,000 in the stadium, there is barely any atmosphere at all despite the best efforts of the home supporters. Despite body and bag searches, they somehow manage to smuggle flares into the stadium, and the Ultras down at the front spend the entire ninety minutes leading the singing.
Although Switzerland, and Geneva in particular, are expensive to visit, a trip there is highly recommended. The Lake is wonderful, and the snow-capped mountains on a sunny day are a sight to witness on its own. Geneva is a quaint small city that is easy to get around that also offers exclusive shops, particularly in the watch, jewellery, and chocolate departments.
There are also other small towns and villages worth visiting and the French Border is less than ten minutes away. The headquarters of UEFA are based on the lake at Nyon, and you are allowed to look around free of charge. The La Praille Shopping Centre is adjacent to the stadium, and there are a few cafes and bars. Hotels in the city are really expensive, but if you don't mind a forty minute drive, the Rêves Gourmands B&B near the town of Martingy with excellent views of the hills is an excellent value for money with very hospitable hosts.
Crowds for soccer games in Switzerland are nowhere near the levels of most other European countries. Servette,despite suffering from low attendances, have a loyal hard core support of around 4,500. Having attended a game at their small and now demolished Charmillies Stadium, one would imagine that despite it being outdated, they would prefer life back there compared to a stadium that is too big for the club.
The stadium is located in the Grand Lancy district of the city and is easily reached by all modes of transport. By car, exit Junction 3 off the A1a motorway where the stadium is clearly visible. Parking is available in the La Praille Shopping Centre and is reasonably priced. Tram 15 from the Railway Station goes to the stadium, as do many buses from the city centre, which is a mere 3.5 kilometres away. Geneva International Airport is less than ten minutes from the city centre.
Tickets are priced at Fr. 25 ($26.75, €20.23) behind the goals and Fr. 50 ($53.50, €40.46) and Fr. 75 ($80.25, €60.68) in the main stands. For the standard of soccer on offer, this is extremely expensive. We took the cheaper option, and were able to sit where we chose behind the goal, keeping away from the flares and smoke, as smoking in public is still allowed in Switzerland.
The club has a couple of small souvenir stalls in the stadium's concourses, and match day programmes are available for free both inside and outside of the stadium. Servette have to be commended for offering entertainment outside the stadium in the form of live Bands and bouncy castles for the children.
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