Photos by James Clotfelter, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
O2 Arena Ocelářská 460/2, 190 00 Prague 9 – Libeň, Czech Republic
Year Opened: 2004 Capacity: 17,383
Hockey In The Heart Of Europe
It’s only fitting that the Czech Republic’s national sport of hockey gets played at the second-largest hockey arena in all of Europe. With a capacity of 17,000, O2 Arena Prague is a venue that has hosted a fair share of marquee events as it is home of Sparta Prague HC, many shows, concerts, tennis, the 2024 IIHF World Championships, and Czechia’s National Hockey Team.
We happened to be in attendance for Czechia vs Finland during the Swiss Ice Hockey games, serving as a competition to prelude the upcoming world championships. While the O2 may not be the most modern arena in the world, it continues to provide a memorable game day experience while standing the test of time.
Food & Beverage 3
The selection of food and beverages is as expected in an arena. They offer all the basics that a stadium typically would. The menu you can prepare to find includes chicken tenders, fries, hot dogs, burgers, sausages, sandwiches, pizza, Coca-Cola products, Fuze Tea, wine, and beer. Food items will cost anywhere between $2-$6. The food quality is what you would expect from stadium food, nothing crazy, but nothing horrible.
The only beer on tap is a Staropramen, but it is hard to complain about the lack of variety when it is priced at just under $3 a beer. Cards are accepted at every concession stand in the arena, and all food is priced at face value, meaning tax is not hidden. While the products themselves may not be flashy, they come at unheard-of value compared to stadium food in the United States.
Opening its doors in 2004, the O2 Arena in Prague continues to stand out as a top hockey venue in Europe. The arena’s concourse does not have the flashy amenities that the latest arenas have, but entering its 20th year, the O2 continues to provide an excellent game day experience.
The stadium is built with four levels: the main bowl being the first, the two middle levels containing the hospitality seats and private boxes, and the upper bowl on the 400 level. At the game we attended, every seating level was open, but for Sparta Prague HC matches, it appears that the upper deck is closed off.
I love a venue with a vertical interior, and the O2 provides just that, allowing the arena to be furnished with a louder and more intimate atmosphere even with its large capacity. This also entitles you to purchase 400-level seats without worrying about obstructed or inadequate sightlines, meaning the 400-level is my seating recommendation if you plan on attending a game here.
Why pay more for tickets when you don’t have to? The seats themselves are not too wide, but they are padded and equipped with cupholders on both armrests. Plenty of merchandise windows are scattered throughout the lower concourse offering every type of apparel you would expect from a team.
The video board must have been replaced since the opening of the arena as it is much more modern than you would expect when comparing it to the semi-old concourse. It is mammoth-like in size and does a solid job of providing stats, replays, and keeping the fans entertained during stoppages with promotions, music, etc.
Much of the atmosphere provided during the game was delivered from the stands in the style of chants and songs. Two fans operate drums located in the sections behind the goal in the lower bowl, and these two take the lead when starting a song in the crowd.
Once Czechia took the lead in the third period, the two fans who operated the drums kicked off a chant that resembled Wisconsin’s “jump around" tradition, and the entire area turned into a trampoline park. The O2 Arena truly delivers an outstanding hockey atmosphere, and I do not doubt that it will do so for the 2024 IIHF World Championships.
Prague is one of the most popular cities in the world when dealing with tourism, and it's for good reason. Beautiful mid-evil architecture, easily accessible public transit, excellent walkability, outstanding food, and cheap booze are just some things the city itself has to offer. Prague is divided into ten municipal districts and 22 administrative districts that are titled, Prague 1, 2, 3… and so on.
The main tourist districts would be the city center, also known as Prague 1 and Prague 2. However, the O2 Area is situated in Prague 9, which does not have a ton going on. Outside of O2 Arena, Prague 9 offers a very new and sleek mall containing an assortment of stores and pregame food choices that a considerable number of fans visited before the gates opened.
The Stages Hotel is adjacent to the arena for visitors who wish for accommodation close to the arena. It was not open for our visit, but the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame is also next to the arena, and even though we were not able to experience it, reviews suggest it is well worth the visit.
We suggest you stay closer to the city center and take public transit to the arena. If you are a solo traveler many hostels can be found around the city center for as low as $10-$25 a night, and if you are traveling with others or a family you can find hotels for $50-$90 a night if you book in advance. This also puts you in the vicinity of the limitless attractions Prague has to offer like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, and the National Museum to mention a few.
Staying in the main parts of the city will also give you a plethora of food and drink options as there is something for everyone. In terms of a couple of examples, Lokal Dlouhaaa is the best site for a traditional Czech meal for a low price and Johnny’s Pizza Bar is a superb pizza spot, for once again a low price. In terms of teams that call Prague home, they are as follows; Sparta Prague HC, AC Sparta Prague, Bohemians 1905, and Slavia Prague.
Hockey is recognized as the national sport of Czechia, so needless to say the Czechs love their national team. Before the game, there was an induction ceremony from the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame, and the fans in attendance made sure they were in their seats early to pay their respect to Czech hockey greats. People from all over the Czech Republic made their way to Prague for this game as many teams from the Czech Domestic Hockey League, the Czech Extraliga, were represented in the crowd.
The fans do a great job staying involved for the entirety of the match. The drums are constantly leading the chants, little air horns are going off, and the crowd reacts to every little thing that happens on the ice. One thing that I appreciated from the crowd was that the concourse was empty during the game, signifying that they remained in their seat when the game was on.
They had O2 Arena rocking when they took a 2-1 lead in the third period, which was easily when the building was at its loudest. This also led to the whole arena jumping during a song from the drums, which was a great display from the fans to cap off a great showing by the crowd.
The public transport in Prague is nothing short of exceptional. It is fast, reliable, and covers the entirety of the city. The city has implemented four subway lines and 35 tram lines in addition to numerous bus lines that expand to areas not covered by the subway or trams.
There are three forms of public transit tickets that you can purchase: a 30-minute ticket for $1.34, a 90-minute ticket for $1.79, a 24-hour ticket for $5.37, and a 72-hour ticket for $14.77. Whatever ticket you purchase is valid for all trams, subways, and buses. With that being said, the easiest way to get from the city center to O2 Arena is the yellow subway line, which drops you off right at the main gate to enter O2 Arena.
If you are visiting Prague International Airport, I’d advise you to take the 119 bus to the subway taking you to the city center. Parking is available, which is generally used for locals or other Czechs driving in from out of town, but as a visitor who is most likely staying in the city, just take the train there.
Gates open 1.5 hours before the event. The main gate is located on the north entrance facing the subway stop. This gate is the only main entrance to the arena, so the queue to enter can be quite long and cumbersome close to game time.
Tickets can be purchased online at ticketportal.com, and you will need to print those tickets beforehand. Small purses are pretty much the only bags that are allowed in the arena, however, luggage storage is provided by the arena if you have to bring a large bag that will not be permitted entrance. The concourse is pretty basic and easy to navigate, as it's just a bowl on both levels with nothing crazy inside the concourse. There is not a prototypical team store, but the merchandise is sold within concession-like windows. All lines for concessions and restrooms move very quickly. English is also well-spoken by the staff.
Return on Investment 5
Compared to American arenas and stadiums, there is nothing that even comes close to the value of the O2 Arena. Tickets to get into the game were $13 for the 400 level which provided unobstructed and good sightlines for upper-level seats.
Lower bowl tickets started at about ten dollars more which is still of great value to see the national team compete. Now if you are in town for a Sparta Prague HC match, lower bowl tickets start at a whopping $12. Concessions are set by the great value standard that is set by the tickets. You are paying anywhere between $2-$7 for every food item and a stadium beer costs $2.50, which is unheard of for American visitors. And as we already covered earlier, public transit is very reasonable and reliable. I don't think many places or teams in the United States deliver that environment for that price level.
Not too much in terms of extras from the stadium itself, but before the game we were in attendance for the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was neat to see familiar NHL faces in that setting. Congratulations to the Czech greats who were acknowledged for their career accomplishments that night.
It would be an oddity to be in Prague while the National Team is playing unless you are making the trip for the IIHF World Championships. But if you are in Prague during hockey season, it is well worth the visit to see a hockey game whether that being the national team or Sparta Prague HC. O2 Arena offers a great hockey experience for a great price.