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Official Review by Boštjan Cernenšek, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Mini Estadi, or Small Stadium in English, is the home of FC Barcelona's reserve side, FC Barcelona B. Filled with next generation of talent, the B team excites their fans with skills that many first teams would be lucky to have. However, the Mini Estadi is very rarely sold out. The reality is, that even though the ticket prices aren't steep, the fact that Barcelona B play in the Segunda División (the second division) just isn't very appealing.
The stadium can seat 15,276 fans over two tiers. The second tier completely covers the (smaller) first tier, so in the case of rain, fans sitting there don't need any protection from the rain. That cannot be said for those sitting in the upper level as only one part, the “Tribuna” stand, has a roof, similar to the Camp Nou.
Built in 1982, according to plans made by architect Josep Casals, it was inaugurated on 23 September of that year. Since then it has been the home of two Barcelona reserve sides – B and C, as well as the highest club youth selection, Juvenil A. Occasionally the stadium also hosts the Andorran national football team, while several well-known bands have performed there, including Queen.
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".
Food and drink stands can be found throughout the stadium, but the selection isn't very wide. The vendors offer you a typical selection of fast food items, though they come with a local flavor. It's nothing fancy, but just enough that you know you're in Catalonia.
On the drinking side of the selection menu, you can choose from the classic non-alcoholic drinks, inducing alcohol-free beer, and various choices of beer. The prices aren't cheap, however, so be prepared to open your wallet.
The atmosphere in the stadium is usually pretty quiet, because on average there are only about 1,500 to 3,000 fans in the stands. Fans in Spain are known to just sit back and enjoy the football match, especially in games that have little significance.
However, in games of personal importance to the fan base, like matches against other Catalan teams or Real Madrid's second team, the Castilla, the atmosphere is very different. Those games are usually attended by over 6,000 fans, with the Castilla games sold out. On those occasions the atmosphere can be electric but, games with such high attendance are only two to four per season.
The Mini Estadi is located just across the street from the famous Camp Nou near the University Campus. A little further down the road is the original La Masia, the famed FC Barcelona academy.
One of several perks of the city of Barcelona is its public transport, which means you are approximately 15-20 minutes removed from basically any location in the city. There are several must-visit locations while in the Catalan capital. One of them is "La Rambla", a very popular tourist street that connects the well-known Plaça de Catalunya with Port Vell.
Well worth a visit are also the Sagrada Família, a church which has been in the process of being built for the past 130 years, and Tibidabo, a mountain overlooking Barcelona that offers a spectacular view of the surroundings. Those a just a few spots from a long list of must-see places.
Fans that come to Barça B games are very similar to those that come to the club's first team games. A large percentage of them actually visit both clubs, especially fans that are socios (official members of the club) as they have free entrance to all Barcelona B home games.
Most fans at the stadium are very respectful as they go to the Mini Estadi to relax and enjoy the attacking football the team plays. So even though there might not be a lot of cheering, one will without a question enjoy good football at the "Mini".
With one of the best public transport systems in Europe, access to the Mini Estadi is very well organized. The easiest and cheapest option is to use the Metro which will drop you off five minutes away from the grounds. And the short stroll to the stadium is always relaxing.
Several bus lines also have stops in the near vicinity of the Mini Estadi, so that is also a very good option, but again you'll have to take a short walk from the bus stop to the stadium. If you're not a fan of walking, you can use the services of a fleet of taxis, that have been voted the best in Europe in 2012.
If you want to drive your own car to the stadium that is also an option, as there are lots of parking spaces around the Mini Estadi. However, with Barcelona's terrific public transport system it's advisable to use one of the first three choices.
Similar to their first team, Barcelona B play some of the most attractive football in their division. With ticket prices ranging from 5€ (behind the goals) to 19€ (central stand) the prices aren't steep. Add to that the fact that socios and children under the age of 12 can get into the stadium for free, you know you're getting a good deal for your money.
The view from all seats is very good as there is no athletic track, meaning that fans can enjoy the game from very close to the pitch. Judging by the ticket prices and quality of football one would expect more fans would be attending games, but the fact that the club is in the second division with no chance of a promotion (first and reserve teams can't be in the same division) is probably the main reason why the stands aren't packed every game.
Because of the premium location in which the stadium is located, a lot is available for you to explore. However, just about everything in the stadium's near vicinity is focused on the club's first team. That being said, many of Barcelona's stars have gone through the club's youth ranks and those have at some point in their careers played at the Mini Estadi. So, whenever you're at a Barcelona B game there is a good chance that some of the players you are watching, will one day play at the Camp Nou.
Between the Camp Nou and the Mini Estadi is FC Barcelona's official store where you can buy official club gear as well as souvenirs. A must visit is also the Barcelona museum where you will find many players that once played for the B team.
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