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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
In 1992, Denmark shocked the soccer world by winning the Euro championship, a tournament that they only qualified for when their qualifying group winner, Yugoslavia, was disqualified due to the Balkan conflicts underway at the time.
Just six weeks after that unlikely triumph, Danish soccer fans had another reason to celebrate as their national stadium reopened after two years of rebuilding.
The original stadium was known as Idraetspark and had stood in suburban Copenhagen since 1911. It was referred to by the locals as Parken (literally The Park) and so when it was torn down in 1990 and replaced by a new stadium, authorities just decided to use that nickname as its actual moniker. In 2014, telecoms provider Telia took over naming rights and established stadium-wide high-speed Wi-Fi.
The stadium is relatively small for a national venue with capacity just over 38,000, divided into four separate stands. It is also home to F.C. Křbenhavn, but this review is for the Danish National Team, which is finishing up Euro 2016 qualifying as this is written. Note that all prices are in Danish Krone (DKK) with 1 USD = 6.63 DKK.
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Food options at European soccer stadiums are generally quite basic and that is no different here. Games are just not long enough to justify massive variety that will likely remain unsold. Single items are priced much like in the US, with a hot dog (known as a Parkdog) at 32DKK. The hot dog is delivered in a slightly different format than you might be used to, the bun is a hollowed out roll with an open end. You are supposed to pump your condiments (ketchup and French dressing) into the hole and then insert the wiener. I will leave the juvenile jokes to you, but this is definitely worth trying.
There are only two other "meals," a Parkburger and a Pulled Pork sandwich that missed the obvious Pulled Park pun, both 50DKK. For value seekers, there are specials here such as the Parkdog menu, which is the Parkdog and a small soda (Coke, Coke Zero, or Sport) for 50DKK, a savings of 12DKK when bought together. Snacks are more common with popcorn, chips, and chocolate bars ranging from 15-25 DKK. My hearty recommendation is a bag of Dumle chocolates with caramel for 25DKK; they make great gifts when you get back home too.
Beer (Carlsberg naturally) is available here and bargain hunters can pick up 5 medium cups for 200 DKK and 5 large cups for 275. These come with a handy carrying case that allows you to get to your seat without spilling a drop. Single cups are 50 and 65 respectively, so there are substantial savings if you want to chug 5 beers in 2 hours.
There are four separate stands here, three of which have two levels of seating. You must enter by the gate shown on your ticket and once you are inside, you cannot move to another stand, or even to another level from what I could tell. The seats are uniformly red, which matches the team's kit.
There is a retractable roof here; it is rarely used for soccer, even in inclement weather. Fortunately, all seats are covered so even if it is raining, you will not get wet unless there is a very strong wind blowing.
There are two scoreboards diagonally opposite each other in the corners, which show replays on occasion but little else.
The stadium is rectangular but there is a small lane about 2 meters wide between the first row and the pitch. Security takes their place here, and they are required after an incident in 2007 in which a fan attacked a referee. That doesn't affect the view and seats down low are more than close enough should you prefer that angle.
The strangest aspect here is that smoking is allowed in the stands, except for the Family Stand. Even during the game, fans will be puffing away, creating a distracting environment for those used to clean air.
Telia Parken is located in a mostly residential area just outside of Copenhagen's city center. Faelledparken Park borders the stadium on the north and west and is worth a stroll should you be visiting during a bit of nice weather. Sankt Jacobs Kirke (St. James's Church) lies just east, and Řsterbro Stadium, home to some lower level clubs, is right there as well.
Řsterbrogade is the main street that runs east of the stadium and among its many shops and bars is Halifax Burger, which offers customized burgers along with craft beers and is a good place to stop, though it will be extremely busy on game days. If you want to act like a local, just grab a hot dog from one of the many stands around.
Generally speaking, you will want to return to Copenhagen proper for your post game celebrations. There are many more options here and a much livelier environment can be found, along with most of the tourist attractions.
Fans are definitely more rambunctious than in other Nordic countries, helped by the sales of beer in the fan zone just north of the stadium, which is very popular. Inside though, they watch the game intently while the supporters make lots of noise. During my recent visit, one fan threw an empty beer cup onto the pitch after Denmark had scored, and it remained there until halftime, but that was about the only trouble I saw.
You will likely take public transit to Řsterport Station, from where you will walk about 20 minutes to get to Parken. This station is on the same line as the airport so you can fly in and out on game day without any undue hassle.
The main problem here is that the stands are separated and thus you are confined to your stand once you enter. Moving around the stands is no problem and leg room in the seating bowl is more than adequate.
Nearby neighborhoods have street parking if you happen to be doing a car tour of Europe but I think this would be more hassle than it is worth.
Tickets vary widely in price and also depending on the opponent. For the match I saw against Serbia, the most expensive ticket was 600DKK, while I paid 425 to sit five rows from the field. This is considered a second-tier seat because soccer is better viewed from higher rows where you can see the tactical battle more clearly. For an upcoming match against weaker Albania, tickets range from 150 to 400DKK. You can buy tickets online without understanding Danish (there is an option to display pages in English which is good enough) at the Danish Football Union's site.
At the main entrance to the stadium stands a statue of three soccer players atop a tall column, signifying you have arrived at the right place.
The Fan Zone next to the stadium is filled with drinking Danes and is well worth a visit if you get there early and want to experience the local culture more fully.
On the sides of the stadium hang several large banners of past Danish soccer greats.
The Danish national team flies under the radar for most soccer enthusiasts, but they have a few star players and are well worth a visit if you are in Northern Europe. Copenhagen offers plenty to do and the stadium is easy to get to from the airport or anywhere in the city. National fixtures are tough to plan for because there are so few and the Danes only have one left during Euro 2016 qualifying on September 7, 2015, but after that World Cup qualifying will begin in late 2016 and should offer plenty more chances to see a match at Parken.
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