Albion: Home at Last
PUBLISHED: 01:18 01 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:48 20 February 2013
The American Express Community Stadium at Falmer, new home to the Championship team Brighton and Hove Albion, is the county's newest landmark. Words: Jenny Mark-Bell
After long years spent in the wilderness at their temporary home in Withdean, Albion fans are delighted to have a home ground they can call their own. It was in 1998 that Executive Director Martin Perry first indicated that Falmer might be the Seagulls new stamping ground. The site was suitable, said Mr Perry at the time, because of its proximity to Falmer station and good bus and road links. The Falmer site was finally chosen as the strongest of 16 possibilities. Now, after over a decade of negotiations, celebrity backing, and overwhelming support from fans the stadium is in use. Its characteristic design, based on the rolling landscape of the South Downs, is fast becoming iconic.
Despite the relatively convenient situation of the site, the building of the stadium posed huge challenges. The nearest power supply big enough to handle the stadiums peak requirements was three miles away, near the University of Brightons Mithras House. So a new cable was laid along the A270 up to Stanmer Park, fed underneath the railway and along the new footpath serving the stadium. This alone cost over 900,000. Even with road and rail links so close by, improvements were needed to make the stadium easily accessible to all. Trains will run every 12 minutes on match days, and there will be a subsidised travel zone around the Amex for buses, trains and coaches.
The Amex Stadium is about more than just football. The first couple to wed in the stadium, Kevin Attwood and Susan King, married on 9 July. Several more ceremonies have been booked, and the stadium is hosting a Wedding Fayre on 4 September. The venue has also received the ultimate foodie accolade, having been chosen to host the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2011/12. Chair of judges Clive Beddall OBE said: We are excited about holding the event at such a stunning new venue with a chef who has such an impressive track record.
As well as being a large, year-round venue for corporate and smaller-scale events, the Amex has been given permission to hold two concerts a year. Paul Rogers, Head of Commercial Services at the Amex, said: Our hospitality team and venue catering are second to none in the city and we dont think there is a better corporate entertainment opportunity in the area. Many Sussex businesses, including Bupa International, Becks Peugeot, Profile Fashion and, of course, Amex have taken out large sponsorship packages.
For the team and for the fans, however, the stadium is more than a venue. Its a new home, a chance to start the new season on a level playing field, as it were. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Robin Turner has provided advice to Albion for the past 16 years. He is based at the Brighton Nuffield and lives on the seafront. His involvement with the Seagulls began with referrals from the medical team. Elbow and knee specialist Robin said that the stadium represents a new home and a platform to move upwards. Expectations are high!
A Word from Gus Poyet
The League One team was in a celebratory mood at the end of last season after clawing its way into the Championship. With the move to the Amex imminent, spirits were high, but manager Gus Poyet must now ensure that the teams performance matches fans expectations.
When I first joined Brighton & Hove Albion, I knew the stadium was fast approaching on the horizon and now the dream has become reality for the fans, for the staff and for my players.
I am well aware of the battle the club has had to reach this momentous time and Im delighted and honoured to be the first Albion manager to lead the side out at the American Express Community Stadium. From the players point of view, the facilities we have at our disposal are first class and can only aid us as we continue our progression. Its also great to know that the fans after all these years of hardship can now watch their team in comfort.
I just hope we can make watching the Albion even more enjoyable by making our first season in the Championship, and at the Amex, a successful one.
THE STADIUM IN NUMBERS
1. It has taken 640 working days to build the stadium.
2. It took 14 years to find a site and get planning permission for the stadium.
3. The Amex cost over 66m to build and was completed within its original budget.
4. The total building footprint of the stadium is 30,400m2.
5. At its busiest time, there were 300 working on construction.
6. 4,520 tonnes of steel were used in the making of the stadium.
7. 783,588 metres of cable have been installed in the building which equals 487 miles further than the distance between Brighton and Glasgow.
8. The tallest point of the stadium is 35 metres.
9. The stadium has 319 toilets.
10. It has 210 TV screens.
11. 700 barrels of beer can be stored at the stadium.
12. Fans will have 800mm leg room in their seats.
13. The furthest seat away from the centre circle is 55 metres.
14. There are 22,500 seats in the stadium
15. The players warm-up room has a 4G artificial pitch measuring 7.5m by 11m
16. The grass will be cut between 5 and 7 times a week
17. The grass will be cut to 25-30mm
18. 1,100 trees have been planted at the stadium site
19. There will be 15 cameras filming every game from 10 different locations
20. Around 200 sides of smoked salmon will be consumed each match
21. There will be up to 100 chefs working each game
22. 500 Gullys Gang picnic boxes have been ordered
23. 1,600 sandwiches will be needed to feed staff every match day
24. 4,000 pints of beer will be served per match
25. There are 1.5 miles of beer pipe in the stadium