- Gary Foxhall
American Express Community Stadium – Brighton & Hove Albion
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
American Express Community Stadium Village Way Brighton, England BN1 9BL United Kingdom
Brighton & Hove Albion website American Express Community Stadium website
Year Opened: 2011 Capacity: 30,250
The Seagulls’ Long-Awaited Nest
The American Express Community Stadium, known primarily as “the Amex” or its locational name of “Falmer Stadium,” is the home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. It opened in July 2011 and had long been in the pipeline since the club was forced out of its historic Goldstone ground in 1997. Following a ground share at Gillingham, the club returned to Brighton in 1999 to play at the whilst planning permission was sought for a new development in Falmer on the outskirts of the city.
The directors had sold Goldstone Grounds in 1995, an old-fashion venue that was surrounded by residential homes and that was the home for generations of fans. The grounds were dilapidated and rundown at the time, but fans loved it and did not want to see their football club disappear.
The supporters also pushed for a regime change to secure the future of the club. A dozen local fans met 2-3 times a week to plan and organize media attention to alert everyone what was going on with the club through protests and pitch invasions. The Seagulls won their last game at the 95-year-old stadium and secured its place in the Premiership for the next season.
However, the club did not have a home and had to play at Priestfield at Gillingham, 140-miles way from Brighton for the next two years. The home club was treated more like away fans and had to abide by certain restrictions A movement began to bring the team back home with the council threatening that a Seagulls political party would be formed to run against them in the next elections.
The council found the club home in a very small, Withdean Athletics Stadium was converted for football but offered uncovered grandstands. However, a national campaign began that included player involvement with banners at games, a bouquet of flowers being sent by other EFL teams to city council, and a chart-topping hit in the UK charts.
Planning permission was given by the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove in June 2002, with a completion date of 2005. However, due to several delays, the stadium did not open until 2011. The persistence paid off by its supporters’ ad the 30,000 plus venue is the home to Brighton & Hove Albion in the highest level of English Football.
Food & Beverage 4
The concession stands and kiosks provide beef and brisket burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chicken burgers, vegan rolls, and fan favorite, Piglet’s Pie. Piglet’s Pies are made locally and the stadium sells around 5,000-10,000 per game. The pies have captured 30 awards including the Football Hospitality Awards. Options include steak and blue cheese, chicken balti, chicken gammon and leek, butternut squatch with spicy vegetables, steak in Harvey Ale’s pie
There is also a variety of crisps, sweets, chocolate and non-alcoholic drinks. Kiosks now include new digital signage and additional faster contactless payment points to speed up service.
The Amex’s layout of the stadium helps retain the noise levels, and when full, the atmosphere is as good as any in the Championship. The club also does its best with regards to pre-match entertainment to get the crowd singing. The West Stand is a three-tiered structure housing luxury boxes and the majority of the club’s facilities that includes banqueting suites, conference rooms, and a nursery.
The East Stand was expanded to two tiers, while the remaining stands are single-tiered, with the whole structure joined by a continuous sloping roof. Although ten years in the making, the stadium is amongst one of the best for comfort in English sport and blends in well with the surrounding Sussex countryside.
Match Day activities begin two hours before kickoff at the northeast corner that includes musical performances from local talent, activities for the kids, and the ability to grab a bite or pint before the game at Dick’s Bar. Fans also have access to the Seagulls Superstore,
The Amex is located on the outskirts of town, very close to the University of Sussex and University of Brighton campuses. The South of England has something to offer everybody: fantastic country side views and seaside towns. Brighton is a busy seaside city with an excellent town centre offering High Street stores and novelty shops in The Lanes shopping area. With a wide selection of hotels and restaurants to cater for all budgets, finding somewhere will not be a problem.
Harry Ramsden’s famous Fish & Chip shop can be recommended and is not too expensive. The nearby town of Lewes is also only ten minutes from the stadium and offers alternatives, as does the resort of Eastbourne. It was Eastbourne where we decided to stay and The New England Hotel was excellent value for money.
The Seagulls’ supporters have had a rough ride over the past fifteen years, and the move to the new stadium has helped with a lift in fortunes on the pitch. Unfortunately, in 2013, the club just missed out on the play-off final and will not compete in the Premier League for yet another season. Supporters have stayed loyal during the years of not having a stadium of their own, but things are on the up and crowds have risen from seven to twenty-five thousand, on average.
The stadium is easily reached by car by taking the A27 towards Lewes (when leaving the M23) and is visible as you approach the district of Falmer near the University of Sussex. There are three park and ride sites around the city at Mill Road, University of Brighton & Brighton Racecourse. Falmer Station is just a couple of minutes from the north Concourse of the AmEx. The Southern Rail and is around 9 minutes from Brighton Main Line Station that includes train service every 10 minutes on matchday. The stadium does provide plenty of parking facilities that cost £15 per car on a pre-booking online site.
Return on Investment 5
There are five zones for ticket prices for adult tickets that range from £20-£45 per person against league opponents. Youth and senior tickets are less and range in price from £15-£35. All tickets will cover public transport on the day of the game between Brighton, Lewes, and Haywards Heath. The club should be commended for this as this is a rarity in England and helps ease traffic congestion and parking problems.
There is a well-stocked club shop at the stadium, and match day programmes are on sale for every game priced at £3.50. There are Betting Kiosks in the stadium, and the concourses are more than well equipped with televisions by the food outlets, so that you have something to watch whilst you are eating the famous Piglet pies. Another novelty is that the concourse walls are covered with old photographs, again showing that the club has tried to do something different. The Seagulls are looking at cutting down on plastic bottle used and have introduce on a trial-basis, paper-cups for beer and soft drinks.