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(West Ham United)
Address: London Stadium,
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park,
Capacity: 60,000 (All-Seater)
It’s worth remembering what this stadium was originally built to host. For International athletic events, London Stadium is among the best on the planet, for football matches, it isn’t as suitable.
The stadium is well known for being the centrepiece of the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games which London hosted. Preparation on the land the stadium is built on began in the middle of 2007, with construction officially beginning in May 2008. Work took a little over 34 months and the then-80,000-capacity stadium was officially opened on 6th May 2012, with the Olympic Games beginning at the end of July.
Upon the completion of the games, the Olympic Stadium as it was then known was planned to be redeveloped with a reduced capacity and to be made available for sports other than athletics, including football.
West Ham United Football Club were granted a 99-year tenancy of the stadium in March 2013, which would see London Stadium redeveloped into a UEFA Category 4 venue that could seat 66,000 people for most events, though this would be limited to 60,000 for football matches. A new roof, corporate areas, toilets and retractable seating were all to be including as part of this redevelopment.
Work on the redevelopment began in August 2013 with some 25,000 seats and the grass field removed, whilst the athletics track around the grass was covered in a protective layer of concrete during the removal process. New floodlights were installed in March 2015, the seating design inside was changed, and further decorations were added to make the stadium look more like the home of West Ham United.
The Hammers, who had previously spent 112 years at the Boleyn Ground, often referred to as Upton Park, moved into the London Stadium in 2016 and have been here ever since.
Location and Getting There
London Stadium is based at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the Stratford district of East London.
The River Thames at its nearest point is a little over 2 miles to the south, Victoria Park is located around 0.6 miles to the west and London City Airport is around 3.5 miles to the southeast.
As with most London-based football grounds, getting to the London Stadium by car is something I actively discourage.
Being the centrepiece of the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, London Stadium is much more accessible by public transport.
The two closest railway stations to the London Stadium are Stratford, served by multiple services including Underground, Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and National Rail, is a roughly 15 minute walk to the east of London Stadium.
Stratford International, served by the DLR and Southeastern High Speed Services, is a roughly 15 minute walk to the northeast of the Stadium.
Additionally, Pudding Mill Lane, served by the DLR, is a 10 minute walk to the south, and Hackney Wick Station, served by the London Overground, is a 15 minute walk to the northwest.
There are also a plethora of bus services that can be used to reach the London Stadium, including:
-The 388 that stops at the Copper Box Arena and Westfield Avenue by the London Aquatics Centre.
-The 308 that stops at Stratford City near the station entrances and Celebration Village in the East Village.
-The 339 that stops at Stratford City and the London Aquatics Centre on Carpenters Road.
-And the D8 that stops at Carpenters Road and Pool Street next to the London Aquatics Centre.
All of these stops are within close walking distance of London Stadium.
Outside the Stadium
The whole of London Stadium is on an elevated platform, known as the Stadium Island which can be accessed by both ramps and staircases from multiple directions.
Walking from either the Stratford or Stratford International Stations should first bring you to the East Stand of the London Stadium.
The exterior here is divided into two main sections, the smaller, lower section containing entrances into the London Stadium itself, and the larger upper section being mostly decorated in West Ham United’s colours. Cantilever forms a ring around the top of the stadium that holds the oval-shaped roof in place.
The eastern side of London Stadium holds entrances H, G and F, all of which are wheelchair accessible.
Out beyond the East Stand is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 114.5 metre high sculpture that also acts as an observation tower. Part of the post-Olympics regeneration of the Stratford area, visitors are able to view the whole Olympic Park from its two observation platforms.
Continuing round the London Stadium in a clockwise direction brings you to the South Stand, which is nowadays known as the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
Essex-born, midfielder Trevor Brooking came through the ranks at West Ham United and would go on to play over 600 times for the Hammers between 1967 and 1984, winning two FA Cups with the club in 1975 and 1980. Sir Trevor Brooking also had a stand named after him at West Ham United’s former home, the Boleyn Ground.
The Sir Trevor Brooking Stand’s exterior follows much the same design as the East Stand, being divided between a lower section that includes the stadium entrances and an upper section decorated in West Ham United colours.
Entrances E and D can be found on this side of London Stadium, with Entrance D being the one for away supporters on a matchday.
Out beyond the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand is the London Marathon Community Track, with the Bobby Moore Academy Second School based next to it.
The West Stand follows the same exterior layout as the East Stand and the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, but has an additional building protruding out of its centre.
Entrances C, B and A can be found on this side of London Stadium, with Entrance B being the one for use by West Ham United’s Club London members.
A little out beyond the East Stand is the River Lea and on the opposite side of it to the stadium is the Bobby Moore Academy Primary School.
Bobby Moore’s name is also in use on the northern side of the London Stadium.
Residing from the same part of Essex as Sir Trevor Brooking, Bobby Moore was a commanding centre-back who is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in the history of football. He played almost 650 times for West Ham United between 1958 and 1974, winning an FA Cup, FA Charity Shield and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with the club. He is perhaps best known though for being the captain of the England team which won the 1966 FIFA World Cup on home soil.
He passed away on 24th February 1993 at the age of 51, but his legacy will forever live on in the memories of all those who love the sport.
The Bobby Moore Stand’s exterior is near enough a carbon copy of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand opposite, though its two entrances, K and J, are located further apart than the two entrances at the southern side of the stadium. The upper tier of the stand is once again decorated in West Ham United colours, with the ring of cantilever in place at the top to hold the roof in place.
A short distance away from the Bobby Moore Stand is the Olympic Bell. Placed inside the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was rung by British Cycling Champion Sir Bradley Wiggins and then later into the ceremony moments before Sir Paul McCartney’s performance of ‘Hey Jude’. The bell was removed from the stadium after the opening ceremony and stored in the Olympic Park. It has been in its current place since May 2016.
Inside the Stadium
The East Stand is divided into two separate tiers, with the upper tier larger than the lower.
Most of the seats in the retractable lower tier are coloured white, but down towards the front of the central blocks is a large pair of crossed hammers, similar to the ones that appear on West Ham United’s crest, made out of claret-coloured seats. The letters WEST HAM are spelt out in claret across the back of the lower tier seating blocks, with additional blue seating used to give each letter a 3D effect.
The upper tier seats are also mostly coloured white, but the seating blocks also contain large triangles made up of claret seating, which again use blue seating on one side to create a 3D effect.
Because of the cantilever ring atop the stadium, there are no supporting pillars coming down and so your view is perfectly clear from anywhere inside.
The Sir Trevor Brooking Stand is also two-tiered, with the upper tier larger than the lower.
The lower tier of this stand contains white seating and is retractable. Between the upper and lower tier on a matchday is a flat open space and a large electronic screen which can be best seen by those at the opposite end of the stadium.
The upper tier is directly connected to the upper tier of the East Stand and is made up of predominantly white seating, with the rows at the back of each seating block made up of first black and then claret coloured seating.
Much like the East Stand, your view from anywhere inside the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof.
The West Stand is the only one of the four at the London Stadium which consists of three tiers.
The lowest, retractable tier consists of entirely white seating except for the two benches at the front of the central blocks which are instead coloured claret. The stadium tunnel also passes through the middle of these blocks and leads to the changing rooms.
The middle tier is the smallest of the three and exclusively available for Club London members. It consists of a row of executive boxes with seating blocks in front of them. The three most central blocks are coloured claret whilst the vast majority of the other seats in the middle tier are coloured white.
The top tier follows a similar design to the upper tier in the East Stand opposite. Seats here are predominantly coloured white but there are also large triangles made out of claret seating, with additional blue seating used to give these shapes a 3D effect.
Once again, your view of the pitch from anywhere inside the West Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof.
The Bobby Moore Stand is almost an exact-carbon copy of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand opposite.
It consists of two tiers with the lower tier being retractable and almost made up entirely of white seating, the only exception being a pair of crossed hammers in the middle block that are made out of claret seating.
There is an open space and large electronic screen between the lower tier and the upper tier on a matchday, which contains mostly white seating except for the back rows of each block which are first coloured black and then claret the further back you go.
Your view is once again perfectly clear from anywhere inside the Bobby Moore Stand as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof.
Your view of the pitch is perfectly clear from any part of the London Stadium, but that isn’t the main issue with the ground’s interior. As a venue originally built for the Olympics and Paralympics, the London Stadium was designed in such a way that the seating blocks would surround a full-size athletics track, which in turn would have a grass field within the centre of it.
Whilst the lower tier seating blocks are able to be moved forwards when the athletics track isn’t in use, they can only go a certain distance forward due to the stadium’s oval shape. As a result, you can find yourself a long way away from the pitch no matter what part of the stadium you are sat in. Pitch side seats aren’t really a thing here, and your best chance of getting close to the action is by choosing a seat near to the corner flags on the pitch.
There are plenty of football-specific stadiums in England alone that allow fans to get very close to the edge of the pitch, which can really help enhance a matchday atmosphere by making the players feel like the fans are on top of them whilst playing.
Given the London Stadium isn’t a football-specific venue, the very front row seats are not able to be right next to the pitch and that has been known to affect the quality of the West Ham United atmosphere on a matchday, especially when compared to what it was like at their previous home, the Boleyn Ground.
Away fans are housed in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, more specifically the southwestern part of the London Stadium.
Depending on the size of the away following, they can be given one half of the lower tier (usually blocks 117-120) and approximately one third of the upper tier directly above here (usually blocks 218-220). Stewards are usually in use to segregate the away fans from any home supporters based in the nearby blocks. Smaller away crowds are usually only based in one of the two tiers in this stand.
Away fans are treated to a perfectly clear view from any seat, but much like the rest of those in the stadium, they can feel a noticeably long way away from the pitch.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The Eleanor Arms (Old Ford Road, E3 5JP) (Typically Home Supporters)
-The Goldengrove (146-18 The Grove, E15 1NS) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Home Supporters Only)
-The Plough at Swan Wharf (60 Dace Road, E3 2NQ) (Typically Home Supporters)
-The Sportsman Stratford (78-102 Broadway, E15 1NG) (Typically Welcomes Away Supporters)
*The London Stadium's location means that there are no many pubs that close by to it. Alcohol is available inside the stadium, but the recommendation for away supporters is to find a drink either in the Central London or on route.
The London Stadium is an Olympic-standard venue, and that is always what it will be best suited for in its current form. The stadium continues to host major athletics events and concerts, where it is ideal for providing a great experience to many thousands of people.
For football, everyone inside is treated to a clear view of the pitch in a venue that meets UEFA’s top standards, but the oval-shape designed to accommodate a running track within it means that getting pitch side seats just isn’t possible here, and you can feel a very, very long way from the action if you choose to go right up at the back.
There have been discussions in the past about whether West Ham United will alter the stadium by developing new lower tier stands that would get fans closer to the action. Should those plans become reality, it could well take the matchday experience at the London Stadium to a whole new level.
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