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  • Adam Pate

Slavutych Arena – FC Zorya Luhansk


Photos by Adam Pate, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Slavutych Arena Lobanovskoho St, 21, Zaporizhzhia, Zaporizhia Oblast, 69000 Ukraine



Year Opened: 2006

Capacity: 12,000

 

Slavutych Arena British Style

Opened in 2006, the 12,000 capacity Slavutych Arena in Zaporizhia City, has hosted top-tier football in Ukraine ever since. However, for the last six years, it has welcomed not only the local Metalurg Zaporizhia but also the exiled Zorya Luhansk from the rebel-held eastern regions. Located in the western part of downtown, the stadium is at a good juncture for exploring the treasures of the city and the riverside beaches near the ground.


Food & Beverage 4

The stadium location allows supporters to enjoy the restaurants in the city before the game. We have enjoyed a number of them over the years in Ukraine and, on this occasion, visited Bar B.Q just five minutes from the ground. Inside the ground as well, there is a pleasing selection for hungry fans, so do not despair if you arrive late for the game.


Within 200 meters walk of the complex, there is a vast array of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars located within a block of Sobornyi Avenue (one of the main roads in the city). They meet all needs ranging from cocktails to small sandwiches – there is even a McDonalds not too far away as well. Most food outlets outside the stadium will accept cash and card, but it is cash only once you enter the arena complex. Bar B.Q has some delicious deluxe burgers on the go, and service is quick. The Old Rabbit coffee shop is also highly recommended as a free space and an excellent place to relax before the game.


Being in a city the size of Zaporizhia, there is naturally an Irish bar to visit. Happily for football fans, it is just a few kilometers away from the ground, with beers for a couple of dollars. When nearer, it is best to drink inside the ground. They offer not only a selection of beers, with and without alcohol but the unique surprise of cider (all of more or less a dollar US).


I definitely recommend enjoying the cider on offer inside the ground as it is pretty unique in Ukraine. It is also sweet being allowed to take alcohol on to the terraces in the Premier League, so take advantage while you can.


Atmosphere 4

The Slavutych Arena takes on a British style than seen elsewhere in Ukraine, providing good vantage points from all sides of the ground. The raised four stands allow a good atmosphere to reverberate around the stadium, encouraging the team on to great results.


The four stands are very similar in make-up, with the side terraces being covered in part by a roof. All of the stands are raised quite a degree improving the view of the pitch. However, in Zaporizhya, there is finally a ground without an athletics track. The premium seats are located center pitch, but we were happy with our seats for less than US$2. The sizeable electronic scoreboard stands behind the goal and counts down the seconds until another Zorya victory. That area behind the goal houses the visiting fans It is an impressive building for Ukraine and quite deservedly holds European football within it.



The stadium announcer introduces the team before the game and presents the halftime festivities with enthusiasm. It encourages the majority of fans to get involved. There is little of in-game entertainment as the fan engagement is still in its infancy. However, after the game, it is great to see fans gather outside the main stand, waiting for their heroes to appear from after game warm downs. I have seen images in the past of supporters and players celebrating their favorite victories together.


We chose to sit in the side stand, but both appear equally recommendable, given that they are covered from the elements. Low attendance in Ukraine means that you have a good selection. Behind the goals, it is open to the elements, but the atmosphere is livelier there if that is your thing. All four stands have access to food courts, pleasingly on the Ukrainian landscape, so take your pick.


Neighborhood 5

The downtown district of Zaporizhya stretches along the Dnipro’s right bank, and the stadium is found on its western tip. Just a couple of minutes walk from the main commercial road, the stadium has got access to an abundance of sights and facilities to enjoy while in the city.


The ground is located in a prime neighborhood to explore. Several bars, such as Cloud Lounge and Virny are within a few hundred meters walk and serve a full range of beverages. The district also hosts restaurants like Olimp, JP’s, and Kvatira for hungry visitors. A little further afield in central Zaporizhya, the Lviv coffee shop is a necessity to see. Tasty chocolate treats and delicious coffee await its guests.


No visit to Zaporizhya is complete without a visit to the island of Khortytsia, where you will find endless legacies to the Ukrainian Cossacks. When visiting in warmer weather, the riverside bars and beaches provide many opportunities for fun and relaxation before the game. Sport-seekers will be happy to know that Motor Sich Company has some teams, most successfully handball and football, which play regularly throughout the year. At the same time, Dnipro is only two hours away for those craving more top-league action.


The Platinum Hotel, located just a few hundred meters away from the ground on the riverfront, provides a good option for overnighters near the ground. Comfortable lodgings are available for less than $US50. Further afield, the city offers a great variety of possibilities accessible through several websites. You can choose from beach side lodgings to being in a central downtown location based on your wishes.


Fans 3

Given the fact that the host club ‘Zorya Luhansk’ plays in exile, the city of Zaporuzhya has taken the club to heart. The stadium regularly holds attendance within 1,000 of its near competitors, even though the journey from their home city can take over four hours.


The ground usually is around 20% full but can grow to half full for the more significant matches. They sit in the lower half of the league table for attendance, but most clubs are in the same ballpark between 2,000 to 3,500 spectators. As a comparison, Shakhtar Donetsk has lost around 50% of its attendance while having to play in exile.


Most fans are quite quiet during the game, with Zorya’s chants breaking out around the pitch during high points in the entertainment. For something more exciting, behind the goal to the left of the main stand, you will find the Zorya Ultra, who continually sing throughout the game and are known for their use of pyrotechnics. You are guaranteed an exhilarating experience on that terrace.


Access 4

With the central location of the ground, supporters have plenty of methods for easy access to the stadium location and from afar. Given the cost of public transport in Ukraine, it is worth considering staying further away from the stadium to enjoy more of the city.


Buses in Zaporizhya are plentiful and cheap, with maps easily accessible via mobile phone applications. Although Uber or rideshare services have not arrived in Zaporizhya yet, many taxi companies offer affordable trips for visitors. For those arriving by train to the city, the station is at the other end of the town, so public transport is necessary.


With the stadium set back from the main road, there is an abundance of parking places. In Ukraine, street parking is a legal option, so any of the side streets are opportunities not worth ignoring. It usually is entirely free as the local fans take public transport to and from the game.


Tickets are purchasable from several outlets around the ground before the game, where you can choose your gate entry. Each of the four stands has its own access points, gate barriers, and an outside gathering area before entering the stands. It certainly reminded me of a lower league UK variant.


Once inside the ground perimeter, people’s movement and flow are very fluid, mainly due to the low attendance figure. Access to the stands is straight forward. However, the raised terraces may provide an issue with the staircase. Toilet facilities are to a reasonable standard and easy access from the ground floor – the space can hold up to 12,000 people, they are at 20% capacity most of the time.


Return on Investment 5

Being a larger commercial center, the trip to Zaporizhya city is one of the pricier in Ukraine but worth it compared to its European counterparts. The Slavutych Arena has all the components of a great match day experience.


Ticket prices are very affordable, with the most expensive being around 2 dollars USD$. If you are looking for comfort, the main stand provides the most excellent facilities, but the goal’s atmosphere is more lively. I enjoyed the burgers near the stadium for my own preference, but if you check Google Maps beforehand, numerous restaurants are available near the ground. Alcohol inside is another advantage. The extensive public transport system with its unbelievably low prices makes movement around the city straight forward and opens up the space for car parking.


Given the vast array of food and drink outlets near the arena, it is worth shopping to find good value. The cheaper seats opposite the main stand provide an equally pleasing view for a smaller price as well.


Extras 3

My visit to the Slavutych Arena was the most English of experiences that Ukraine had to offer. You can park easily around the ground and walk up to the stadium. The food courts also resemble a British occasion.


Final Thoughts

A trip to the Slavutych Arena will provide the big city experience that is comparable to other countries. It is an impressive setup even if the attendance (at least for my game) was low. The facilities around the city scream for a more extended city break that will allow you to enjoy more than just the game day.

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