Five unique stadiums from around the world
We've all seen games at impressive stadiums. Whether it's on TV or in person, most football fans have become quite used to the beautiful game being played against the stunning backdrop of the Nou Camp or Old Trafford. But when all's said and done there isn't much room for originality in stadium design. There are only so many ways to arrange rows of tiered seating. But some designers went out of their way to break the mould. Here are five weird and wonderful venues from around the world.
#5 - The Airfield
For a (former) top-flight stadium, the Airfield isn’t the most impressive of venues. Home to Airbus UK Broughton, currently playing in Wales’ second tier after a spell as one of the league's main title challengers in the 2010s, the ground has a seating capacity of 500 along with standing room for about a thousand more. But The Airfield makes up for its small size by way of its quirks. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, based at the end of Hawarden Airport’s runway and on the grounds of the Airbus factory from which the club takes its name.
Iconic Beluga planes are seen flying over the ground carrying plane wings to factories in Europe. Since they fly so close to the stadium, extra measures are taken to avoid potential crashes. The stadium’s floodlights can fold down to allow planes to fly over and the stands are covered in flashing red warning lights. On matchdays, workers stream past the ground heading to and from work, giving Airbus the feel of a genuine workers’ club, something rarely found above amateur level in the modern UK.
Despite its peculiar design, this venue never seems to get the attention it deserves. The club lacks the funds to expand the stadium, and the low capacity means they are unable to host Europa League qualifiers. This was a fact that seemed to go over the head of Welsh FA head Steve Williams who advocated for the Welsh national to play home games at the unusual venue. In a stadium with 500 seats? It’s true Wales is a small country, but they’ll need a bigger capacity than that!
George Cheetham - Manchopper
#4 - Our Tampines Hub
If you’ve ever read a list like this before, you’ll inevitably have seen an item on Singapore. Specifically, the Marina Bay Float, which, while impressive, has never actually been used for professional football due to inherent problems in its design.
So here’s an actual football stadium. Our Tampines Hub was opened in 2017 as part of the area’s new regional centre. Built on the site of the former Tampines Stadium, the ground features a high-grade artificial pitch and is used by two Singapore Premier League clubs, Tampines Rovers and Geylang international. While its capacity isn’t the most impressive, it’s The Hub’s aesthetic marks it out as unique. It fits perfectly with Singapore’s high-tech, high-rise vibe.
The main point of the stadium, also known as the Town Square, is a two-tiered stand capable of seating 5,000, more than adequate for the Singapore Premier League. Its other three sides are surrounded by steel and glass constructs; gyms, cafes, offices and more look out onto the pitch. This is an area designed to serve as a hub for everyone in the area and reduce the need for city centre travel and the stadium lies at the centre of the complex. It’s a perfectly sensible design in a densely populated city-state, and possibly a model we’ll see used for future stadiums. Where else but Singapore could you watch professional football while pumping iron in the gym or filing your tax returns?
Tamprovers CC BY-SA 4.0
#3 - Changlimithang Stadium
Another Asian stadium that fits its national aesthetic perfectly, the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu, Bhutan is a multi-purpose venue, hosting domestic and international games as well as a range of other sports including archery and volleyball.
Built on the sight of a historic battle, the stadium was constructed in honour of the coronation of the fourth King of Bhutan. The stadium sees nearly constant use as the pitch is available for public hire and is popular with local office workers. As if that wasn’t enough, it hosts most of the city’s top-flight teams too.
One side of the stadium is comprised of fairly standard, though brightly coloured, stands. On the opposite side, spectator facilities take the form of finely worked pagodas, resembling a temple rather than a sporting venue. Wooden walkways are decked out with intricate carvings, and the dragon of Bhutan stands carved in goal around the stadium. In the background stands a stunning view of wooded hills meaning this is one of the most beautiful stadiums you’re ever likely to come across.
As a football venue, its seen some significant moments. On the 30th June 2002, the same day Brazil beat Germany in the 2002 World Cup final, another “final” was held here, a game between Bhutan and Montserrat, then FIFA’s two lowest-ranked teams. Bhutan took a 3-0 win and have since soared to the heady heights of 159th in 2015. That’s actually not bad for a country as small as Bhutan.
Google Street View, Phuentsho
#2 - Vozdovac Stadium
It’s happened to everyone. Your buddies said; "let's go the mall!" and you're down at the food court with the other cool kids and a couple of weeks' allowance to spend. Suddenly you’re struck with an overpowering urge to see a football match, only there’s no stadium nearby.
Well, Serbian side Vozdovac Belgrade have got you covered! Their unimaginatively named Vozdovac stadium has a rather more imaginative location, based on top of a shopping centre in an area of Belgrade packed with housing. You've got to get resourceful to avoid out of town stadiums. Opened in 2013, it was built in exchange for the club’s old Bojan Majic stadium.
Tickets and merchandise are purchased below the arena, from a small kiosk inside the mall. Imagine heading out for a new pair of trainers and some football tickets!
A neat, pleasant-looking stadium, construction seems to have cut corners; fans have complained the support pillars in the stand obstruct the view too much, some of the steps are dangerous and the atmosphere is poor. Still, a stadium on a roof is always going to have its own charm.
#1 - Strahov Stadium
Often missed out on lists of largest stadiums, this Prague stadium is in fact the biggest football venue in the world. Dwarfing even North Korea’s Rungrado 1st of May Stadium (seating between 114,000 and 190,000 depending on who you ask), the Great Strahov Stadium boasts a capacity of 250,000 with 56,000 seats, along with a playing field three times as long and wide as a standard football pitch.
Built in 1926 and originally used for mass gymnastics displays, the venue has played host to a range of sports, cultural events and concerts since then. Best known as a music venue, it hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith who played to near capacity crowds.
Strahov Stadium is now somewhat fragmented, its vast playing area divided into eight training pitches (a mix of full-sized and smaller variants) and a gym. Sparta Prague’s women's, reserves and youth teams use the stadium for their games. Even tucked away on a single pitch in one corner of the ground, there is still ample space for visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage site. While the stadium is rather dilapidated now, with much of the terracing crumbling away, its future seems secure.
On top of a large hill overlooking the city, the Strahov Stadium can be accessed by funicular railway which climbs through beautiful gardens. As if it needed any more unique touches!