I had visited the stadium for the Commonwealth games in 2002 and I was fascinated to see how it had been converted into a football ground.
I guess, as a Wycombe fan, I am used to having plenty of parking on offer 10 minutes walk from the ground. At Eastlands however the traffic around the ground was chaotic for this evening fixture and car parking options difficult to find. The snow lying in most car parks and alongside most of the roads didnít help but Iím guessing that the experience is similar on a warm Saturday in April.
I had booked my ticket online and had to collect it from the shop on the North side of the ground. The collection point however was chaotic with people purchasing tickets for other matches and buying memorabilia from the shop. What I thought was a leisurely stroll to a pre-match drink turned into a frustrating wait and a dash for my seat Ė there has to be a better way?
It is a new build but has a certain character due to the high sides and tiered design, probably better viewed from inside than outside. My seat at the highest point on the east side of the ground was however too far from the pitch to feel part of the experience (it reminded me of being in the top tier of the new Wembley).
What made the occasion and justified the ticket price and queuing was the goal-scoring of Carlos Tevez. The football was not great but in Tevez City have a player worth the 400 mile round trip alone. The home fans were in raptures which I guess made for a great atmosphere for those within 30m of the pitch who werenít from Ewood!
Traffic was equally challenging after the game in the immediate vicinity of the ground however having parked on the west side of the ground it made for an easier escape west to the M6.
Impressive stadium but diabolical ticket collection system and make sure that you donít end up with a seat up ďin the godsĒ.
Score: Manchester City 4:1 Blackburn Rovers
Ground No: 33 (of the 92)
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