Capacity: 51,700 (All Seated)
Address: 62 Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4
Telephone: 01 238 2300
Pitch Size: 105 x 68 metres
Year Ground Opened: 2010
Having opened its doors for the first time in May 2010 The Aviva Stadium, which sits in the Ballsbridge area of the Dublin, around a mile South of the City Centre and harbour, is the stunning replacement for the landlocked yet charismatic 48,000 capacity Lansdowne Road Rugby Stadium which was demolished in 2007. The new stadium, which cost €410m to build, was constructed on the old stadium footprint and was funded by a joint venture between the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland, aided by significant government funding.
The stadium has an innovative design and from the outside, it looks stunning. The main entrances to the ground can be found alongside Shelbourne Road, where the uniformed silver grey bulk of the stand rises above the houses. This side of the ground presented one of the biggest challenges to the designers, with the railway line running beneath the seating deck of the old West Stand a way had to be found to build a protective shell around the railway whilst also allowing fans access to the turnstiles and concourses. The Podium was the solution, essentially the floor deck sits on top of the concrete railway tunnel with fans elevated to the Podium level by a series of staircases and escalators.
Stepping into the stadium through the West Stand's Podium turnstiles and concourse the eye is immediately drawn to the East Stand on the far side of the pitch. The dark green and white playing colours of the National football and Rugby teams are represented by both the seats and the roof supporting steelwork throughout the stadium with only AVIVA picked out in white seats on the Lower Tiers of the East and South Stands. Multi-national Insurance Company Aviva have agreed a 10 year sponsorship deal at the stadium and they are well represented within the stadium, though curiously the blue within the company's current blue, green and yellow brand logo-which works so well against the modern silver grey exterior has been dropped on the interior in favour of making the advertising boards around the corporate level predominantly yellow, presumably because it was felt blue would be too much of a colour clash with the green seats. Whatever the reason the double line of yellow adds a pleasing depth of colour, uniforming the East, South and West Stand into one giant U shaped stand with the advertising boards effectively separating the nicely proportioned Upper and Lower Seating decks. The Lower Tier (Level 1) has a deck of 32 rows of seating. Suspended above the rear few rows is a second seating deck known as the Premier Tier (Level 3). The deck is slightly steeper but has only 16 rows of seats, leading to a rear line of executive boxes Suspended above the rear few rows is the Corporate Tier (Level 4) which has 3 rows of seats with Executive Boxes at the rear. The Upper Tier (Level 5) has a much steeper deck with the number of seating rows rising and falling to suite the curved exterior wall, much like the Upper Tiers of the Emirates Stadium in London or Eithad Stadium in Manchester. At its deepest point on the pitch centre line both East and West Stands Upper Tiers has around 42 rows of seats, tapering down to around 20 rows at the North corners. At this level, the Aviva Stadium's white tubular supporting steelwork can be seen in all its glory. The U-shaped main frame which supports the roof sits on a series of columns, two of which are exposed at the North end of the ground, however the exact positions of the columns at the South end of the stadium are hidden from view, giving the South Stand's vertical frame steelwork with its large scoreboard the deceptive appearance of just hanging in mid-air with nothing to hold it up!
The Upper Tier of the South Stand itself offers possibly the best views in the ground, the seating rows do not rise and fall to the same extent as the East and West Stands, so it feels more connected to the action on the pitch, whilst also having the advantage of offering fine views of the City of Dublin from over the top of the North Stand. As with its modern counterparts in London and Manchester, there are transparent external wall panels between the top seating deck and underside of the roof, which coupled with the part transparent “dragonfly wing” roof panels allow as much light onto the pitch as possible. Although both the East and West Stand appear identical in size the West Stand has the players tunnel on the centre line of the Lower Tier, flanked by players substitute and staff seating areas. These areas could not really be considered dug outs as they are not covered in any way, allowing the seats behind to have a better view of the pitch. The rear of the seating in the centre section of the West Stand also has an enclosed Committee Seating area and private boxes, whilst at Upper Tier Level 5 the centre section of seating is taken up by worldwide media reporting benches, with a tv gantry mounted behind the top row of seating
Turning finally to the North Stand, fans arriving at the ground and not knowing anything of the history of Lansdowne Road could be forgiven for thinking that the owners of the stadium just ran out of money and plan to finish off the stand at a later date but in fact, the stadium just ran out of space! Unlike a handful of football clubs who have been able to purchase houses, relocate residents and then demolish surrounding housing to expand their stadium-Liverpool's Anfield, or Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park for example, the FAI and IRFU were never in the position to follow suit, resulting in a consultation period with local residents who previously had the open North end terrace of the old Lansdowne Road stadium backing onto their properties. The design brief was a covered all-seater stand with a low profile which would not be any more intrusive than the shadow cast by the old open terrace. The resulting stand which we see today could be seen as a compromise from the point of view of the overall capacity but without it the re-build project could not have gone ahead. The architect had to find a way of naturally linking a stand with a single seating deck of around 14 rows with two pitch side 3 tiered stands holding in excess of 70 rows of seating. Perhaps if this re-design had taken place 30 years ago we would now be looking at 4 separate stands with the North Stand having a low cantilever roof. But modern building materials have allowed the North Stand to be constructed with a lightweight framework, the rear wall being a form of plexiglass, both transparent and rigid. The North Stand roof which swoops down from East and West Stands is certainly a talking point. To some a thing of beauty and grace, to others a compromise too far as the roof steelwork itself is more vertical than horizontal, not helpful if you're sitting on the seats below in the rain, however, it is the swooping roofline of the North Stand which helps the stadium achieve its unique appearance when viewed from the outside.
From whichever direction you come from the first views of the Aviva Stadium present a jaw dropping spectacle, especially when viewed from outside the street corner pubs along Grand Canal Street where the green seating and white roof steelwork of the East Stand's Upper Tier is visible, towering over the neighbouring housing estate, or approaching along the River Dodder footpath where it would appear a giant shiny spaceship has landed in the suburbs! Closer to the ground however fans can face a slightly bewildering experience working out where they are in relation to the colour of their ticket.
The North & West sides of the stadium are accessed by walkways which lead through and around the surrounding housing. To make things more complicated the Dart Railway Line originally ran below the seating deck of the old West stand, and a new structure had to be built to cover the railway line whilst construction work on the new ground begun. This is why when you access the entrances to the West Stand there is a series of stairs and escalators leading up to a Podium, sitting on top of the railway tunnel. They key thing to enjoying the match day experience is to arrive early and understand the overall layout of the surrounding streets and their entrance points-these will be printed on the reverse of your ticket. The roads surrounding the stadium are subject to a series of “vehicle exclusion points” 2 hours prior to kick off which effectively allow fans walking from Dublin City Centre or alighting at the Dart Line Station of Lansdowne Road the full width of the road and paths to access the entrances. It is certainly a helpful aid to not have to worry about dodging in and out of traffic, and it is these streets that you will really start to experience the pre-match atmosphere building but even so you can imagine fans arriving at Lansdowne Road Dart Station on the South side, with 15 minutes before kick off with a Red Ticket for the Bath Avenue Entrance on the North side, even with guidance from the stewards it may not be possible for these fans to reach their seats by kick off time, just down to the sheer numbers of people walking around the outside of the stadium at this time. Once inside the ground however any problems encountered on the outside are soon forgotten, with every seat offering an unobstructed view of the game. The overall pitch itself is enormous, possibly to cater for the stadium to host as many floor standing spectators as possible at a concert (for which The Aviva Stadium can hold 65,000) but this means the playing area for football, and indeed Rugby games can look small with the touchline too far from the East Stand and specifically the West Stand since it incorporates a wide technical area leading from the players tunnel.
However the elevated views of the pitch from Level 3 or 5 are just about perfect, with leg room pretty good too. As with Wembley Stadium the Level 5 Upper Tier of The West, South and East Stands has a much steeper seating deck, so when you sit down you don’t see as much of the person who sits in front of you! Whilst on the subject of overall design a special word of praise should go to the architect for two things-installing elevated disabled viewing areas at the top of the seating deck of Level 1 and Level 3 and incredibly also at Level 5,offering possibly the most elevated position for a wheelchair user at any football ground. The outer shell for the stadium was also very well-conceived, allowing both natural light through the roof onto the seating deck and also making the rear concourses at Level 3 & 5 as light and roomy as possible.
As far as we are aware when the Irish Republic Football Team plays International fixtures at the Aviva Stadium away fans are allocated the North Stand, which is accessed from the Red Ticket entrance walkway on Bath Avenue, to the side of the housing estate. Every seat has an unobstructed view or the pitch, and there is also a good number of spaces for wheelchair users along pitch side however there are a couple of drawbacks to being seated on this side of the ground. The North Stand's roof, designed specifically to be as low and as unobtrusive as possible to the housing estate which sits behind it, doesn’t really overhang the seating in any way, so if it rains expect a soaking and this also in turn means any kind of atmosphere generated by fans tends to leave the ground rather than echoing back down from the roof. Other than that, facing out onto three tiers of passionate Irish Support in one of the most modern stadiums in the world. What could be better?
With a majority of fans selecting to use the Dart Line train from Dublin Connolly and then alighting at either Grand Canal Dock or Lansdowne Road the main hub of activity is along the main stadium approach road between the two areas-Grand Canal Street Lower leading towards Shelbourne Road. Here you will find a good selection of street corner pubs, restaurants, fish and chip shops and convenience stores to keep you entertained. Grand Canal Street is around five minutes walk from the Blue and Orange ticket West Stand entrances along Shelbourne Road. Inside the ground Levels 1 to 5 have wide concourse with a good selection of food and drink.
Traffic is notoriously bed in the area on matchdays and coupled with road closures (up to 1km away) and parking restrictions around the stadium, then is it best to travel by train, or if you still intend to drive then perhaps consider parking in one of the city centre car parks and then walking out to the stadium.
The stadium has its own railway station called Lansdowne Raod and is on the Dart line. This line runs through Dublin such as Dublin Connolly, Tara Street and Dublin Pearse. You will need to board a Southbound train heading towards Bray, or Greystones. Once at the Lansdowne Road platform you will see the South Stand direct ahead of you. For West stand turnstiles head to the left over the level crossing, East Stand and North Stand turnstiles can be reached by walking to the right away from the level crossing, passing the main reception, then walking round the outside of the stadium opposite the training pitch.
Record Attendance: To be advised
There are daily tours of the stadium accept on bank holidays, match and event days. The tours cost Adults €10, OAP's and Students €7, Children €5. Tours can be booked by calling (+353) 01 238 2300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Special thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the information and photos of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The tour video was created by Peter O'Doherty and Extra Time and is made available via YouTube.
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