Photos by James Clotfelter, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Milady Horákové 1066/98 Prague, Czech Republic
Year Opened: 1917 Capacity: 18,887
The Crown Jewel of Czech Soccer
epet ARENA, more commonly known as Letná Stadium, has been home to the most decorated club in all of Czechia, AC Sparta Praha. Established in 1893, Sparta has won 37 league titles, 15 Czech Cups (both being Czech records), and two Czech Supercups. Their decorated history doesn’t stop at the domestic level. In terms of European competitions, Sparta accumulated three Central European Cups, a UEFA Cup in 1973, and reached the European Cup (now known as UEFA Champions League) semi-finals in 1992. It is no surprise that winning ways bring high expectations, and the supporters that fill the Letná never cease to drop their standards.
Food & Beverage 2
The matchday experience at the Letná Stadium is something memorable, but the food is something to be forgotten. We were in the stand along the goal line across from the Ultras section. Here are a few of the same concession stands, serving the fundamental stadium food you would anticipate; sausage, popcorn, chips, beer, soda, etc. The concessions are cheap though. Every item, food, or beverage is no more than $4. The sausage itself was not bad, but they ran out of buns before the match even started. But the drinks come with a take-home cup, so at the price you pay, that is a fantastic deal.
While hosting the most famous club in the Czech Republic, the Letná would not be described as a large stadium. Rather than providing a fancy stadium atmosphere like big clubs do, the Lenta utilizes its small capacity of just below 19,000 to create an intimate atmosphere. The stadium is split into four different stands, each one accompanying its sideline/end line. Like most European stadiums, you only have access to the stand where your seat is located, meaning if you are sitting in the north stand, you only have access to the north stand concourse. Worried that you do not have any Sparta apparel for your upcoming match, no worries because there is the team store outside of the stadium. It is an expansive shop with apparel, decor, and many other Sparta-branded items. Just be sure to check out the team store before heading to your entrance gate.
The seating itself is very comfortable, with chairs back at every seat and plenty of legroom provided by the rows. The cheapest tickets are located on the first level behind the goal opposite the ultras section, and I highly recommend sitting here. The views from there are great and unobstructed, you can easily see any display from the ultras, and you are close to the field, so it is fun to have the Sparta players celebrate goals right in front of you. If you sit here, be careful when the stadium gets upset, cups are prone to being tossed on the field from the second deck, and many of them miss short.
There is no shortage of pre-match festivities at the Letná. The ultras start buzzing when players come on the pitch to warm up. Two hype videos are projected on the video boards, one in Czech, and one in English giving visitors a brief overview of the club’s history. Then a massive flag display takes place on the pitch as the players make their way out of the dressing rooms and onto the pitch. Throughout the entirety of the match chants, tifos, and pyros are constantly going off, and the atmosphere always stays intense.
Two TV screens are serving as video boards located in opposite corners of the stadium, meaning every seat in the stadium can view one of them. These screens serve to display the score and time, the pregame hype videos, halftime promotions, and last but certainly not least crowd control prompts. For example, occasionally an away player will dive to the ground to draw a foul, leading a chant to break out from the crowd in Czech, visitors like us will not understand the point of the chant until a “do not use foul language” prompt appears on the video board, then we can use some context clues. My favorite is when the ultras light one stick of pyro, and then the video board pops up with an animation that tells the fans pyro is not allowed, which seems to only encourage the ultras to light more.
Out of all the stadiums in Prague, Letná Stadium has hands down the best location. Situated in Prague 7, the stadium is an easy 20-minute walk across the Vltava River from Old Town Square. Meaning the stadium is minutes away from the many attractions of Prague, and close to limitless restaurant/bar options. In terms of pre/post-match food and drinks, I would point you in the direction of Lokal Dulka for a drink and traditional Czech food located close to the city center. Mr. Hot Dog is a very popular spot for hotdogs, sausages, burgers, and drinks right next to the stadium. It often has a lively pre-match atmosphere being that it is so close to the stadium. It is almost impossible to see everything in Prague in just one trip, but attraction highlights include Old Town Square, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, and St. George’s Basilica. Be sure to check out some of the other teams in Prague as well. Sparta HC is the most popular hockey team in town, but four other soccer clubs reside in Prague including first division sides Bohemians 1905 and Slava Praha.
Staying around the city center is highly recommended as you can find affordable options within walking distance of all of the attractions. For solo travelers, the city is loaded with cheap and clean hostels. Check out hostelworld.com as it is the most popular hotel booking site with quality reviews and prices. For visitors looking for a hotel, Hotel Zlata Vaha is a great option and can be booked for around $70. If you book at the right time other affordable hotels in the area can be found for anywhere between $50-$90. Prague is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, and Sparta Prague plays right in the hub of all of it.
To put it simply, the fans are the ones who make the experience at the Letná Stadium so great. The big clubs in the world with legendary stadiums like Man United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich get all the attention as passionate fanbases, which is something that I don’t believe to be true. However, after attending a Sparta match, I would put Sparta as one of the most passionate in the world.
In terms of general traditions, there are many. During the player walkouts, the fans hold their scarves high while all of the supporters gave a bone-chilling rehearsal of a club anthem. Scarves are waved like Pittsburgh's terrible towel while the celebration song plays in the background after every goal. The Sparta ultras are unbelievable, their section was packed before warmups, and from the time warmups started, to well after the match they stayed buzzing with songs, tifos, and two pyro displays. Most of the atmosphere in the stadium stems from the Ultras.
These might be general things that a lot of supporters do, but the reason why I would give them the title as one of the most passionate fanbases is what happens during the game. For reference, we saw a league match vs FK Teplice. At the time of the match, Sparta was about 6 points clear of first in the division and Teplice was in the bottom third, so not the most meaningful match in the world. It was a disastrous start for Sparta as they were quickly playing with 10 men and down 1-0 early. This prompted the away side to begin early time wasting, and when a player would dive to the sidelines, the fans answered by jeering the player and sometimes even throwing cups onto the field. The away club even scored a second goal, but upon review got called back for offsides, and instead of cheering for the offsides, the fans started verbally attacking the assistant referee for missing the call in the first place, little to say the first half was incredibly tense, and filled with anger. Just to be clear, we do not condone throwing cups on a field, or any form of reckless behavior from fans not local to the club and are rather just visiting. If you are visiting a team on vacation, please act with respect no matter what is happening in the stands.
To fast forward, Sparta came back to win 2-1 being down a man the entire match. Words cannot describe the noise from the crowd when the go-ahead goal connected. There was an older gentleman in front of me who was in tears as if Sparta just won the Champions League. When I try to think about what this team means to this fanbase, there is no better example than that gentleman sitting in the row below me.
The stadium is more than walkable from the city center, but in case you do not plan on walking, the stadium has public transport access. There is a tram stop label, “Sparta” right inform of the team shop. This stop has many different trams that serve it, so check Google or Apple Maps for what route best suits your departing location.
The team store does not require entrance into the stadium, allowing everyone to check it out before the match. There is a stadium map on the front of your PDF ticket if you purchase ahead of time. This will show you what gate you need to enter, and there is signage all around the stadium using arrows to point you in the direction of the gate your ticket desires. The concourse for each stand is shared between the upper and lower levels, but it is very spacious and has tables to grab a bite before heading to your seat. I was not able to find anything about handicap access, but the guest services at Sparta were very quick to respond to my ticketing emails, so I counsel you to reach out to them for information relating to handicap access.
Return on Investment 5
In terms of activities on your to-do list in Prague, the return on investment of a Sparta Prague is greater than anything else on your itinerary. General tickets are priced anywhere from 300czk – to 450czk, and VIP ticket packages go up from there. This means tickets for Sparta start at $13. That is cheaper than the following Prague attractions: the National Museum, Prague Castle, Powder Tower, and St. Vitus Cathedral. As mentioned before, the food is basic but very cheap. Food and soda are anywhere between $2-$4, beer is $3 and comes in a souvenir cup.
The stadium does not have anything too fancy, but props to Sparta for an expansive team store on the outside of the stadium. English was well spoken by the staff, and drinks also came with a souvenir plastic cup without an upcharge, so that was neat. There are stadium tours available, and you have to go through the website to purchase.
I have been to the World Series, seen my hometown Braves win the NLCS, attended major UGA Football games, and seen an NCAA Sweet 16 and an NCAA Frozen Four. Granted, seeing the Braves finally overthrow the Dodgers in game six was one of the greatest moments ever, there is nothing that compares to the value of a Sparta Prague ticket. For $13 to be a part of an atmosphere like this, you would be a fool not to attend if you’re visiting the area.