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  • Greg Priebe

King Power Stadium – Leicester City FC



Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

King Power Stadium Filbert Way Leicester, England LE2 7FL United Kingdom

Leicester City FC website King Power Stadium website

Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 32,500


 

Fox Watching at Leicester City

The King Power Stadium, also known as the Leicester City Stadium due to UEFA sponsorship regulations, is home to Premier League Champions Leicester City Football Club. Opened in the summer of 2002 by local hero and former England International footballer Gary Lineker, the stadium is located just a stone’s throw from where the old Filbert Street stadium once stood.

After spending 111 years at Filbert Street the club relocated to a new home a matter of yards away at what would first be named the Walkers Bowl (Walkers being a locally-based nationwide distributor of crisps), though after some comical nicknames such as the crisp bowl the club decided to rename the venue as the Walkers Stadium. The club began its maiden season in their new £35m, 32,500 all-seater home after being relegated from the Premier League the previous season, with their opening fixture a friendly against Spanish team Athletic Bilbao, on 4 August 2002.

The stadium has played host to several alternative events including both full and Under 21 international fixtures and music events including more recently the internationally recognised local rock band Kasabian, who incidentally performed at the stadium to celebrate the team winning the Premier League. The stadium has also hosted many domestic, European and International rugby union fixtures with local rugby giants Leicester Tigers using the stadium for their international fixtures due to a larger capacity than their original Welford Road stadium. 2015 also saw the stadium being used as one of 13 selected venues for the Rugby World Cup which hosted the fixtures of Argentina v Tonga, Canada v Romania and Argentina v Namibia.

Food & Beverage 4

Plenty of food options are available at kiosks through the internal concourse areas typical to that offered in football stadiums, with a few unique food options being offered such as a sausage roll with Red Leicester cheese and a broccoli, cauliflower and double cheese pie, both priced at £3.80. Your typical items such as hot dogs, steak pies and burgers are available as are your typical confectionary options. Kiosks also offer combo deals on food and drink. Alcoholic, soft drink and hot drink options are available too.

One thing to note if you are an overseas visitor, due to ground regulations it is against the law to drink anything alcoholic in view of the pitch. This is the reason you tend to find football stadium concourse very busy pre-match and at half time. Contactless payment is advertised and accepted throughout the concourse kiosks making the process for purchasing items relatively hassle free and also keeps the queues moving quicker.

Outside you’ll find several burger vans within the pedestrianised forecourts that surround the stadium as well a number of other food vans on route to the stadium. There aren’t many alternative food options close by so fast food really is your only option. If you’re attending the match and have time to spare, I’d recommended eating at one of the many excellent restaurants or pubs in the town.

Atmosphere 4

Atmosphere at the King Power stadium has been recently recognised as one of the best and nosiest in the country with a local University of Leicester team installing a seismometer close to the stadium and recording a minor quake with a magnitude of 0.3 after a last minute winning goal.

The stadium is a modern concrete and steel structure and with its continuous bowl-like terraces and roof covering all seating areas it certainly helps contain the noise generated by supporters. Three of the stands are front to back with rows of seats with internal concourse areas to them all. The main stand offers seating for hospitality and VIP guests as well as a single row of hospitality boxes across the back row of the where the general supporters are seated offering excellent views of the pitch.

For this particular fixture the atmosphere had diminished somewhat, most notably because of recent league form having dipped well below the expectations of last season’s heroic league triumph. The opponents being Manchester United resulted in a sell out crowd however, encouraging fans to chant their usual club songs as well as directing chants at the opponents making it an enjoyable atmosphere to be a part of. Pre-match the club play an emotional video on the LED screens storying their heroic achievements the previous season to the music of Andrea Bocelli’s performance of Nessun Dorma, which is a true spine-tingling moment that encourages all the supporters to clap and cheer.

Leicester City had introduced a crown initiative last season by providing every home fan with a clap banner to help raise noise levels and encourage the team. This initiative is still in place today with reports that it costs £12,000 to provide them for each fixture which goes to show the generosity of the clubs owners and their ambition to drive match day atmosphere.

You won’t get a bad seat here at the King Power stadium and it just comes down to personal preference on where you prefer to sit, whether that’s close to the action or towards the back where you get a better feel for the formation and tactics each team is using. Pitch perimeter LED advertising is in place with added rear view facing LEDs that allow the club to promote local businesses to the supporters. Two large LED screens that hang from the roof in two opposite corners offer a clear view of team introductions, half time fan engagement initiatives such as ‘Fan Cam’ as well as displaying action replays through the match. The PA system also offers a clear and concise output to all supporters within the stadium and the concourses.

Neighborhood 5

The stadium is located on the outskirts of the town centre in what is now a multi-cultural diverse area of the city as well as having a large student population in the surrounding areas. The stadium is located 1 mile from the city centre and can be reached via a pleasant walk on the River Soar canal tow path. There are plenty of other routes leading from the city but you’ll find this a peaceful and hassle free journey on foot. There are many places to eat and drink in the city as well as close to the stadium. The Narborough Road area and Braunstone Gate, both a short walk from the stadium, offer an array of bars and a variety of foreign restaurants, though I would recommend spending time in the city centre.

The city has seen a huge amount of investment in recent years, most notably since the discovery of King Richard III’s remains back in 2013. Since then the city has been subject to worldwide media attention resulting in a huge influx of visitors. Couple that with the most unlikely of sporting achievements with lowly Leicester City winning the Premier League, the city now known as the sporting capital of the country has become a hub for tourists, as well as having historical connections.

You’ll find everything from Italian to American style BBQ restaurants in the city and a vast amount of pubs and bars with many becoming drinking holes for local supporters enjoying their ritual pre-match drink. For food I’d recommend anywhere within the open air square at the Highcross Shopping Centre. Here you’ll find Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and American cuisine and a few burger restaurants too all of which are of excellent quality. For drinks head further into town to the Rutland & Derby pub and enjoy a pre-match pint in the bar outside in the garden or on the roof terrace. If you fancy something closer to the stadium you can soak up the pre-match atmosphere with the home supporters at Blues Bar & Grill which is located right next to the stadium.

Local attractions include the King Richard III visitor centre, the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery as well as the UK’s only National Space Centre. If spending some time in the city you’ll also find some great country parks on the outskirts of the county such as Bradgate Park which is well worth a visit on a nice day.

Fans 4

Leicester City fans provide a great and memorable atmosphere. With a full house against one of the giants of English Football this still encourages supporters to take part in their usual ritual of singing and chanting through the match often engaging in chants with the away supporters. Depending on the club’s performance on the pitch, fans might be seen leaving well before the final whistle. Attendance was a sell-out crowd of just over 32,000 though, which is typical of the dedicated support of the clubs fans with many of its home games often selling out of tickets.

Access 3

Access in and around the stadium is fairly good. With it being a modern stadium, the immediate vicinity of the ground is pedestrianised, meaning you’re able to move easily and safely around the entire external perimeter of the stadium. There is also plenty of way-finding signage as well as dedicated staff wearing ‘Here to Help’ tops which all contribute towards providing a very welcoming experience. Parking around the stadium is very limited with local car parks reserved for permit holders and hospitality guests. Being local I tend to park a little further out (usually in the Braunstone Gate area) where it’s free and then walk the 15 minutes or so to the stadium. You pass a couple of nice bars on the way which also helps.

Public transport again is a little limited in the vicinity but you can make your way to Aylestone Road where you’ll find bus stops and transport into town. I would certainly recommend parking close to the town and walking the 15 – 20 minutes to the stadium. It’s much easier! For those with walking difficulties and the need to be close to the stadium it’s probably worth contacting the club to see if they are able to assist with allocating you a parking space close by. Leicester train station is a little over a mile away with plenty of police and stewards on route to point you in the right direction.

Turnstiles are very clearly signposted and you’ll be greeted by stewards carrying out random body searches. These searches are more detailed around the away supporters’ turnstiles with sniffer dogs present and local police assisting with stewards in managing the crowd. Inside the stadium, again you can move pretty freely within the section your ticket is assigned to.

Concourses are fairly open with a typical set-up of food/drink kiosks on one side and toilets on the other. The result of this and like most stadiums is that they become congregated closer to kick off so moving around from A to B becomes more difficult. The concourses are lined with wall art commemorating the clubs recent success which makes what is normally a pretty blank and dull space quite attractive.

Accessible supporters have the ability to enter the stadium via nominated exit gates which are assigned as accessible entrances prior to kick off and once inside the stadium there are toilets and changing places areas equipped for their personal needs.

Return on Investment 3

For home tickets for a Category A fixture adults pay between £26 and £50 with slightly reduced rates for seniors and under 22s. Children’s prices are significantly lower, with under 12s paying a maximum £15 and under 10s charged as little as £5. For lower category games you’ll pay around £5 less per ticket depending on your age group. Here is a full list of ticket prices on the team’s official site. Tickets for Premier League football are expensive in my view, but you’re paying for the experience of seeing a football match featuring some of the best players in one of the best leagues in the world.

Ticket prices are fairly similar across the league with the exception of some of the larger clubs whose ticket costs are generally higher. There are on occasion packages available to buy tickets for multiple matches which provide a discount though you tend to find those offers usually apply to the lower profile fixtures to help encourage greater ticket sales.

Car parking is available at the Fibert Street lot of £16 on a pre-book basis and up until 10 am on the day of the match. Other lots include at the Freeman’s Common Business Park for £4 with proceeds benefiting Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre. There is more parking in City Centre next to the Leicester Tigers Rugby ground.

Leicester is one of very few clubs that do not offer a fan zone. These have become extremely popular amongst UK football stadiums recently and you generally feel you are getting a little more for your money when there is plenty of entertainment on offer which adds to the match day experience. I only assume that space or some other underlying reason is an issue here as to why a fan zone is not on offer.

Extras 4

There are plenty of resale options on your journey to the stadium with small outlets set up on the roadside selling club memorabilia. A large club shop to the front of the stadium facing the main road is open up until kick off for anyone wishing to take advantage of a large selection of LCFC goods. Shirt printing is available on the main forecourt to the front of the stadium via a separate outlet and there is also an inflatable penalty shootout activity managed by club staff which attracts a large queue for those young budding footballers and some adults too!

Plenty of film crews are present on the main forecourt with the major broadcasters and local news stations getting the fans view on the game pre-match which adds to the buzz around the area. This was a live TV fixture so greater media attention was present because of this. Many fans also taking photos and selfies of the ‘Champions’ banner with the stadium in the background appear to be a regular activity which has seen the club become a bit of a tourist attraction over the past 12 months.

Final Thoughts

A club in the heart of the Midlands with easy transport links from local airports and London provide supporters and visitors from all over the country a fairly hassle-free trip to the city of Leicester and the King Power stadium. You’ll be treated to a modern stadium with modern facilities in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere with the opportunity to watch Premier League football.

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