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  • Chris Tuck

Ashton Gate – Bristol City FC

Photos by Chris Tuck, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Ashton Gate Ashton Rd. Bristol, England BS3 2EJ United Kingdom

Year Opened: 1887 Capacity: 27,000


Home of the Robins

After investing £47.2 million into the club in 2009, Bristol City chairman Stephen Lansdown has transformed the sporting landscape in Bristol. The city’s largest stadium ‘Ashton Gate’ has reaped the benefits.

Lansdown first joined the board in 1996 and by creating ‘Bristol Sport’ he has brought together Bristol City men’s and ladies' Football clubs, the Bristol Bears men’s and ladies' rugby club, and the Bristol Flyers (the city’s basketball side) under one umbrella.

Football at Ashton Gate has been in evidence since the turn of the 19th Century and after redevelopments in 1928, 1970, and 1994, the stadium clubs fresh investment. Under the new chairman, these refurbishments have now come to fruition and Ashton Gate is now a modern, stadium helping put the city of Bristol on the sporting map.

Bristol City nicknamed ‘The Robins’ have played at Ashton Gate since 1904 and currently play their matches in the Championship in the English Football League (EFL). City, needed had two main periods in the top level of English football, in the late 1900s and the late,27,000-capacity. They are certainly due a return to the top-flight, and they now have the home facility to underpin their promotion dreams.

Bristol is located in the southwest of England, approximately 120 miles west of London and 43 miles from the Welsh capital of Cardiff. The urban population of Bristol is over 650,000 making it one of the largest in the UK (11th).

Food & Beverage 4

The main food outlets outside the stadium can be found near the corner of the South and Lansdown stands. This is the location of the main Sports Bar & Pizzeria which is built into the side of the ground. Burger grill and fish and chips concession stalls are also located here with a KFC just across the road in the South Bristol Retail Park. Burgers and hot dogs at the grill start at £6. Cod and chips are £8.

Inside the stadium, the food offerings are much improved. Gone are the days of football grounds in England selling pie and Bovril only. Here you can satiate your hunger with pizza, chicken strips, and locally-made pastries at reasonable prices.

Hot drinks are a little on the expensive side at £2.50, and soft drinks such as Coke, Fanta, and Sprite are the same price. Alcohol, which in England is only allowed to be consumed in the concourse areas, is also available, Thatchers Cider costs £4.80, Guinness, Heineken, Amstelhas1900s, and IPA cost £5. Cash and card are both accepted for payment and each concession stall looks clean, smart, and well-staffed.

Atmosphere 4

The latest developments to the stadium have had a huge impact on the aesthetics of Ashton Gate. Before the 2016/17 season 1970s Southwest, the Williams, and Wedlock stands were demolished, the Dolman stand was extended, and the pitch relayed. The result is a locally-made, before, and smart stadium fit for the modern-looking first-class sport. No more large posts obscuring your views from the away end.

The Atyeo stand, named after club legend John Atyeo (who also has a statue outside) has just over 4,000 seats and is usually given to away fans. This is the only stand that isn’t structurally joined to the others. The rest of the ground is a bowl/horseshoe shape with no breaks between the stands. The Dolman stand runs along one touchline and is a single-tier structure housing around 6,500 supporters.

Behind the goal opposite the Atyeo stand is the South Stand with over 6,000 seats, finally, the jewel in the crown is the extensive and expensive Lansdown Stand. This two-tiered structure holds nearly 11,000 fans and affords views back across the city and even a snapshot of the famous Clifton Suspension bridge to your left.

For the match Stadium Journey attended only 6,000 were in attendance spread across three of the stands, due to government Covid restrictions. The atmosphere made by fans though was excellent and shows that a full Ashton Gate could generate some serious noise. Two large scoreboards in opposite corners of the ground are well placed and provide all the usual information you need including action replays where appropriate. The PA system is loud, very loud.

Neighborhood 4

Back in 2015, Bristol was named the UK’s first ever European green capital; it has also been named the best place for under 25s to live outside of London

Bristol is a large and bustling city with a long maritime history despite the main docks moving out west to Portbury. The river Avon flowing through the city is still a key feature with old wharfs, bars, and restaurants providing a new economy for this enigmatic metropolis. The juxtaposition between the affluent parts of the city and the less salubrious areas gives the city an edgy vibe and the university ensures you will see younger people dominate in the city centre and drinking hot spots.

The stadium is found in the wharves, center southwest of the city, a couple of miles from the city center. The main landmark on that side of the city is the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, built in 1864, which can be seen high up in the gorge that cuts through the western side of the city.

Other attractions include a fantastic street art scene, the zoo, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, and Cabot Tower erected to mark the 400th anniversary of explorer John Cabot. City centre shopping can be supplemented with a visit to the Cribbs Causeway mall just over 10 miles north of the center.

The city is littered with places to get a drink; lots of real ale establishments and quirky venues like the Bristol and Bath Rum Distillery located at 87-89 Park Street. For away fans visiting the stadium, the Nova Scotia which looks out over Bristol harbour is worth a visit.

Opposite on the north bank of the river is another pub, the ‘Rose of Denmark’. Both are around a 20-minute walk from the ground. Bedminster Cricket club offers a bar and car parking and is just a 15-minute walk to the stadium.

Fans 3

Pre-covid, in the 18/19 season, Bristol City FC's average attendance was a healthy 21,080. There is no doubt that if Bristol City made it into the Premier League, they would fill the stadium each week. The highest attendance for a City match is 43,335 who packed into Ashton Gate in 1935 for a fixture v Preston North End. Since the redevelopment, 26,088 is the largest attendance for City v Manchester United in the League Cup in Dec 2017.

City’s main rivals are Bristol Rovers who currently play in the fourth tier of English football and there is no love lost between the red of the city and the blue of Rovers. As well as ‘anti-Rovers’ songs, all the usual chants will be heard at Ashton Gate, and of course expect songs referencing cider, the local drink of choice!

Bristol Bears also based at Ashton Gate had an excellent recent average attendance of 17,924, one of the highest in the Guinness Premiership.

Access 3

The city is very accessible from London and Cardiff. Bristol Airport serves visitors from further afield. By car, you should follow signs from the M4 or M5 and if you are traveling by train, the main station is Bristol Temple Meads, and center the closest is Parsons Street. Making your way from the city centre across to Ashton Gate in the southwest corner of the city takes a little more thought.

You can walk to the ground from the centre but a bus/taxi would probably be better, match day bus services are normally in operation from Bristol Temple Meads to the stadium and back. For full details for traveling to the stadium including parking, click here.

Return on Investment 3

With the 20/21 season played largely behind closed doors, ticket prices quoted are from the previous season. BCFC members attracted significant discounts on tickets but for a ‘one-time’ visitor expect to pay £27 for an adult in the south stand up to £37 in the upper Lansdown stand. Concession prices are available for U25, U22, U19 and Under 12s plus over 65s. In the club shop, also available online, you can get a scarf for £15 or a beanie hat for £20. The away jersey for 21/22 costs a cool £50. Adding travel, food, and drink, a visit to Bristol is worthwhile but not cheap.

Extras 4

The Robins Foundation has recently been tackling loneliness in the city whilst the club has used its premises as an emergency food storage warehouse and a vaccination center during the pandemic

The Euro 2020 tournament (played in the summer of 2021) was shown on large outdoor screens for fans to watch together. Elton John and Russel Howard are just two stars performing at Ashton Gate during 2021 and 2022 as well as numerous business events.

Plans have recently been revealed to develop a world-class‘ Sporting Quarter’ for the city including a new hotel, arena, gym, and car parking. The two-site development will provide a 4,000-seater home for the Bristol Flyers basketball team and a new urban village development close to the stadium.

Final Thoughts

It is certainly exciting times for Bristol City fans off the pitch as the club continues to invest and grow its profile and infrastructure. The stadium is now fit for big matches, the most recent being the Vanarama Promotion Cup Final between Torquay United and Hartlepool United which was switched from Wembley due to its Euro 2020 commitments. This demonstrates that this venue is on its way to becoming the first-class facility that chairman Stephen Lansdown has always dreamed of.

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