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Official Review by Peter Miles, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
FC Dinamo București were formed in May 1948 and have since become one of Romania’s most successful clubs, winning 18 national titles and 13 Romanian cups. The formation of the club was the result of a merger between Unirea Tricolor București and Ciocanul București, a merger coerced by the Interior Affairs Ministry.
The club moved to the present stadium in 1951 with the inaugural match taking place against Locomotiva Timișoara. While sporadic renovation has occurred, invariably funding issues have seen few projects fully realised. There are plans to rebuild it into a modern arena style stadium but as the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly several of the club’s bigger matches have been staged at the National Stadium. Since 2015 FC Voluntari have ground-shared with Dinamo as they look to replace their aging Stadionul Anghel Iordansecu in the northeast part of the city.
The Dinamo Stadium has the unfortunate nickname of Groapa which translates as “the Hole,” not a reflection of the facilities, but due to the fact that the ground was dug out to fit the stands into a bowl rather than raising the stands vertically.
The Red Dog's golden era was undoubtedly the 1970’s and 80’s when they annexed eight of their League titles and enjoyed considerable success in European competition. Their zenith in Europe came in the 1982/83 season when they defeated Kuusysi Lahti of Finland, Hamburg SV, and Dinamo Minsk on the way to a semi-final defeat to eventual winners Liverpool.
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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".
Typical with eastern European grounds, food and drink are not widely available in the stadium and it is recommended to eat in the city or around the stadium prior to the match.
While food and drink isn't exactly in copious supply at the Dinamo Stadium, most make do with a carton of popcorn and nuts/seeds available from a small stall at the top of the tribune. There is no drink available in the stadium.
With the game being screened on live TV and despite the offer of free tickets the crowd is still rather meagre. The club initially had two small ultras groups called Dracula and Rams Pantelimon who would congregate in the North End of the stadium (also known as Peluza Catalin Hîldan). However, another group called Nuova Guardia, comprising of mainly younger supporters, became the biggest ultras group. Their singing and support during the game is impressive. There are no pyrotechnics and security guards at the gates are clearly targeting pyro and lighters in their body searches.
Dinamo Stadion is a typical former Communist state bowl style arena. Cosmetic improvements like new floodlights arrived in 2001 and more recently a modern LED scoreboard have given the old ground a fresher feel although the capacity remains a modest 15,000.
The is a PA and some music and announcements are made before the game. The impressive scoreboard also adds to the engagement.
My ticket was in the West Tribune (Tribune 0) which was uncovered seating. On a wet night and with a small attendance there was no problem moving into the covered center section of the stand. The old main stand has an old fashioned attraction to it and mainly houses VIPs and guests. The two ends are curved opened seating sections.
The stadium is walkable in about 45 minutes from the Parcul Izvor area. Bucharest is a fascinating city, a mixture of old and new buildings and the Old Town area, albeit a little rowdy at night, has some beguiling architecture. A weekend stay may leave you wishing you had stayed a little longer!
There are two restaurants worth recommending; Nenea Iancu and Pub Horezu. The former serves meat based dishes although can cater to vegetarians. It also serves extremely tasty unfiltered beer under their own brand name. Pub Horezu is a traditional old Romanian eatery where food and service is absolutely top notch.
The audaciously huge parliament building, the Palatul Parlamentului is well worth seeing. It took 13 years to build, starting in 1984, and is a modern interpretation of neoclassical architecture. It is the second largest administrative building in the world after The Pentagon. It was built under the auspices of Nicolae Ceaușescu and replaced the former parliament building badly damaged in the 1977 earthquake. It allegedly costs $6 million per year to heat alone!
Strada Xenofon is a famous painted stepped passage close to Carol Park. Beautifully illustrated it appears as if water is gushing down the steps. It is also redesigned and repainted regularly and has become a major tourist attraction.
The functional Ibis hotel in the shadow of the huge Palatul Parlamentului building is a good place to stay while in Bucharest. The check in procedure is a little slow, but the rooms themselves are spacious and clean. Be wary that some bookings do not include breakfast and this has to be paid for at the dining room reception. The hotel is part of the Accor group.
The Red Dogs always carry the label of the city's "second" club after Steaua despite no less than 18 championship wins. The crowd is vocal and enthusiastic, but a clampdown on pyrotechnics has left the ultras to singing and flag waving.
Matches against eternal rivals Steaua Bucharest have often been sold out and can attract trouble. In recent seasons this match has been staged at the National Stadium. Average attendances for Dinamo home matches is around 5,000 and tickets are easily purchased on the day of the match.
The noise is decent for a modest crowd and one can only imagine how this multiplies for a derby match against Steaua.
The overall access experience is decent once you have got past the intrusive body and bag searches. The tribune is spacious and entry from the top gives a wide concourse before you reach the seating.
The station is adjacent to the Stefan cel Mare metro station which is the quickest and most efficient way to reach the stadium.
There is also a bus stop called Stadion Dinamo and a myriad of buses transit down both Soseaua Stefan cel Mare and Strada Barbu Vacarescu.
Free street parking is readily available around the stadium if you choose to drive.
Tickets have barcodes and the scanning is quick and efficient. There are rigorous body and bag searches and it is obvious the security team are only interested in confiscating pyro and lighters. Cameras and other items are completely ignored.
While I did not see disabled access specifically marked, the street entry level at the top of the stands makes access very easy indeed. Moving around is restricted to the side of the stadium you enter.
The whole experience is very friendly on the wallet and is highly recommended to any visitor to the city.
The ticket was free during my visit due to television coverage (not uncommon in Romania) and standard prices (Derby with Steaua excepted) is around $5, which is excellent value for top flight football. There was no progamme available for the match I attended, although for bigger matches the club has produced programmes.
Matches transmitted on live television are generally made free to supporters.
The club has retired numbers 11 and 14 in memory of Cătălin Hîldan and Patrick Ekeng who both tragically died of heart attacks while playing for Dinamo.
Teamsheets are freely available from the club offices.
This is a great old school stadium that has struggled to be pulled into the 21st Century. It's comfortable enough not to be chastised for its shortcomings, and should be on your itinerary if you make the trip to Bucharest.
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Strada Covaci Nr 3, Sectorul 3
+40 075 203 4171
Strada Izvor 2-4
Bucharest, Romania 04054
82-84 Izvor St