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  • Jeremy Inson

Loftus Road – Queens Park Rangers

Photos by Google

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Lofton Road S Africa Rd, Shepherd’s Bush London W12 7PJ

Year Opened: 1904

Capacity: 18,439


Loftus Road – Heading Down the Bush

Loftus Road is an 18,439-seat stadium that has been home to the Queens Park Ranger since 1917. The name of the stadium was called Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium from 2019-2022 but has reverted back to its original name.

However, what the west London venue lacks in size it certainly makes up for in other ways; the intimate nature of the venue creates a cracking atmosphere, and there probably is no stadium with better access by public transport, nor one with a more eclectic mix in the streets and areas that surround it.

After a nomadic existence around west London after they were formed in 1886, QPR first played on Loftus Road in 1920 and after moving away to the nearby White City Stadium, they returned in 1933 and it has been their home since.

Floodlights were installed in 1953 and in 1967 the club won its first major trophy, the Football League Cup, with promotion to the top flight for the first time coming a year later. At the start of 1980s Loftus Road became the first of four football league grounds to install a plastic pitch, but after seven seasons with the “drastic plastic,” as it was known, it was replaced with grass.

At the start of the millennium, Fulham shared Loftus Road while their Craven Cottage home was brought up to code for the Premier League. A short while before then, rugby club London Wasps ensured that the ground staff was kept on their toes with matches taking place on alternate weekends to Rangers.

One of the stadium’s greatest nights came in 1985 when Northern Irish boxer Barry McGuigan challenged the Panamanian Eusebio Pedroza for the WBA featherweight championship. Over 27,000 packed the venue and roared on the Clones Cyclone, who won on points after 15 breathless rounds.

There are plans to open a new 40,000 stadium in nearby Old Oak, but until they are firmed up and dates announced for the opening, Loftus Road will continue to provide a cozy home, as it has for most of the last 100 years.

Food & Beverage 3

In the stadium itself, the food is the usual option of pies, burgers, hot dogs, and chips washed down with a choice of beer, soda, cider, tea, or coffee. Expect to pay around £5 ($8) for something to fill your belly and wet your whistle.

Atmosphere 4

The tight-packed nature of Loftus Road gives the impression that you could easily shout across the pitch and whatever you had to say would be heard by all. It also means that whenever there is a full house and the crowd finds their voices, the atmosphere reverberates around the four interlocking stands.

The colours of blue dominate the four straight and narrow stands that make up the facility. It is a completely enclosed venue that is compact and straightforward. Slim floodlights are atop two of the stadium’s stands and a video screen is located for stats and reviews.

The South Africa Road stand is the best place to sit and stands out as a two-tiered seating structure that features a mostly unobstructed view of the pitch. The stand is also home to the Paddocks.

The Ellerslie Road stand is the smallest but perhaps the nosiest; it is also the only stand not to be painted in blue and white hoops. The majority of the ground’s atmosphere is generated here and is considered the best spot to view a game, also the loudest.

Neighborhood 4

Outside the ground, the varied ethnic mix means there is a variety of eating options from traditional London in the form of pie and mash, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Antipodean, Polish, and the ubiquitous fried chicken shop.

Like many traditionally working-class areas of London, White City and Shepherd’s Bush are currently going through a gentrification process with modern buildings and house prices going up rapidly.

For those wanting something a bit more upmarket there are a wide variety of choices at the Westfield Shopping Centre, Europe’s largest, only a mile from the ground. Westfield Shopping Centre is one of two in London and part of Australian Frank Lowy’s Westfield empire.

As well as being able to get some shopping in before and catch a movie after the match there are some highly regarded restaurant chains. Try Jamie’s (Oliver) Italian, which provides the usual Italian fare, but with this reportedly QPR-supporting chef’s twist on things. A main with starter or dessert plus wine should set you back about £25 ($42).

Further along, Uxbridge Road is an area of the aforementioned strong ethnic mix, where food and good prices are far more varied and far cheaper than in Westfield.

There is some disquiet from the locals at how the area is changing, not least with the cost of houses and rent and while parts aren’t exactly the most salubrious, overall it is a fairly harmless part of west London that is going through a fairly large change.

Fans 4

Queens Park Rangers fans may be called all manner of names, but glory hunting isn’t one of them after a roller-coaster existence in recent years. They were one of the original clubs in the Premier League’s first season, 1992-93, but after a short period of progress under Ray Wilkins in the mid-90s, life has since been one of joy followed shortly by despair.

As such, those who attend matches are among the most loyal and vocal of supporters around, who enjoy the good times and don’t get too hysterical when things go wrong, knowing full well the next swing of fate is just around the corner.

Access 3

Part of the boon of the Westfield Centre being built was the improvement in transport options. Underground stations Shepherd’s Bush and White City on the Central Line, Wood Lane and Shepherd’s Bush Market on the Hammersmith and City Line, as well as Shepherd’s Bush overground station, are all short walks of no more than 10 minutes to the Loftus Road.

Several buses run through Shepherd’s Bush green taking folks north and south, east and west; the 283 to Bloemfontein Road or the 72, 95, or 220 to White City Station go nearest the stadium.

It means that traveling by car is rendered almost pointless, which is no bad thing as parking is limited and what there is, is costly. Also, most roads are residents’ parking only, which means an army of traffic wardens flood the area on match day, leaving a few fans in a less than amused mood once they return to their cars.

Return on Investment 3

Ticket prices for QPR matches for adults are £28 and £for seniors in all of the stands at the grounds. The price also depends on the opponent of the match but with the club in the EFL Championship, tickets should be priced right for your budget. Food and drink are also adequately priced and souvenirs, such as an official kit sell for £46.99.

Extras 3

The Loftus Road shop serves all manner of paraphernalia in blue and white hoops at a wide range of prices, while there are stadium tours laid on throughout the year normally during school holidays; check the website for information.

Then of course is the aforementioned Westfield Shopping Centre; Europe’s largest where you can shop, eat and drink to your heart’s content till 10 pm and of course the delights of London’s west end are only a short tube ride away.

Final Thoughts

While the date of the move to the new stadium has yet to be given a time frame, it does mean that fans have the chance to attend one of the Premier League’s last-standing traditional venues.

Walking to the ground through the narrow streets and sitting near other fans is what gives the ground such character and will be hard to create once they move.

That said, those characteristics are what has stopped the ground from being developed, which in turn has condemned fans to watch a yo-yo existence over the past few years, so the chance to build a bigger venue with a greater revenue stream is imperative for the club’s future success.

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