BRIGHTON - AMEX STADIUM
What's The Amex Stadium Like?
After leaving the the Goldstone Ground 1997, which had been the Club's home since 1902, Brighton have struggled to find a new permanent home, first ground sharing at Gillingham for two seasons, before returning to the South Coast in 1999, to take up temporary residence at the Withdean Athletics Stadium. After a long drawn out battle, the Club finally prevailed receiving planning permission in July 2007 for a new stadium at Falmer, on the outskirts of Brighton. At a cost of £93m the new American Express Community Stadium as it has been named, has been well worth waiting for; adding a spectacular sight to the Sussex landscape.
From a far the semi circular roofs of the stand and the tubular supporting steelwork above them, are at first glance reminiscent of the Galpharm Stadium in Huddersfield. But on closer inspection the similarity ends as this is a far superior ground, which inside is reminiscent of the KC Stadium in Hull. On one side is the impressive looking West Stand. This three tiered stand, has a large lower tier, a small middle tier and a medium sized upper tier. The seating in the upper tier follows the semi circular design of the stand, giving it an interesting effect. The team dugouts are located on this side, as well as an open press area, which is conveniently situated above the players tunnel on the half way line. Opposite is the smaller East Stand. This two-tiered stand had its upper tier added in the Summer of 2012. The gap in-between the two tiers is occuppied by the Clubs' administrative offices.
Both ends are also small single tiers of seating, and have an electric scoreboard to the rear. One of these ends, the South Stand, has a hospitality area containing a number of executive boxes, which is situated above the seated area. The roofs over both ends slope down from the larger West Stand on one side to the East Stand opposite, giving the ground a different look. Apparently though, this is so the stadium fits in with the rolling South Downs landscape. The stadium is totally enclosed, although the corners at the North End of the stadium have yet to be filled with seating. One nice touch though, is rather than having lettering displayed on the seating, images of seagulls are included instead. What the makes the ground particularly striking is the amount of transparent material used in the roofs of the stadium, apart from the supporting framework there is not a solid panel in sight.
What Is It Like For Visiting Supporters?
Away fans are housed in the South East corner of the stadium. This area not only includes the corner section but also part of the East & South Stands lower tiers. Around 3,300 fans can be accommodated in this area. It is worth noting that the Club charge away fans more for sitting in the East Stand rather than the South Stand or South East corner. As you would expect from a new stadium, the view of the playing action and leg room are both good. Plus the added bonus of padded seats is a rare 'luxury'. Food available inside the stadium from the wide concourses includes; Cheeseburger £4.20, Veggie Burger £4.20, Burger £4, Homemade Pies £3.50 (in conjunction with Piglets Pantry in Shoreham-on-sea, baked on-site: Steak & Harveys Ale with mushrooms, Chicken & Ham with leek, Vegetarian butternut squash with spicy tomato). Peter Llewellyn adds; 'The Amex Stadium is an excellent venue, very nicely set in the countryside. The concourse is extraordinarily wide and spacious for such a small stadium. Comfy cushioned seats, excellent view, plenty of leg room, great pitch and the best acoustics of any stadium I've been to. The home fans singing was deafening, all down to the acoustic effect of the stadium design.'
Where To Drink?
There is not much in the immediate vicinity around the stadium. There is one pub called the Swan Inn located on Middle Street in Falmer, which is about 15 minute walk away, but for most fixtures this is for home fans only. Alcohol is served within the ground in the form of Kronenburg (£3.80), Strongbow (£3.80), Harveys real ale (£3.60), Fosters (£3.60), White, Red or Rose wine (£3.80). The Club also offer a 'Pie and a Pint' for £6.50. Harveys have also produced a special 'Albion' bottles beer which is only available at the stadium or from the Harveys shop in Lewes. 5p from every bottle sold will be donated to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.
Outside Brighton Mainline Station there are a number of excellent pubs'. Phil Kramer recommends the Evening Star, on Surrey Street. It is away fan friendly and only two a minute walk away from the station. It is in the CAMRA good beer guide and serves real Sussex ale and cider'.
If arriving at the Mill Road Park & Ride then a little further on down London Road (A23) on the left is the Black Lion pub which is a Harvester outlet.
Owen Wilkinson informs me; 'After the game the bars at the ground remain open. The North Stand stays open to 8pm on a Saturday. So if you want to avoid the queues at the railway station then stay at the ground for a beer and watch the late kick off game on the television screens. They also display the departing train times on screen too, so you know when to leave'.
John Ellis a visiting Leicester City fan tells me; 'We were directed to the Downs Hotel in Woodingdean, on the Falmer Road (B2123) at the Warren Road junction. The Hotel has a bar and is about two miles away. They offer free parking at the hotel and they do a shuttle run (two minibuses) every 15 minutes between 1.30pm and 2.30pm, the cost is £4 return for adults and £2 for children. We used this with no problems at all and returned after the game by Hotel minibus at 5.15pm'.
Keith Matthews a visiting West Ham United fan adds; 'We walked up to The Swan from the ground which was a good 15 minute walk from the stadium. However they had security on the door and you had to show home section match tickets to gain access. We were also denied access from the Hikers Rest in Coldean
(home supporters only again and had to show match tickets). We entered the ground and must admit service at the bars within the stadium was very good'.
How To Get There By Car & Where To Park
The stadium is located at Falmer on the outskirts of Brighton, very close to the University of Sussex.
At the end of the M23, continue onto the A23, heading towards Brighton. At the roundabout which is the junction with the A27, take the A27 towards Lewes. After around four miles you will se the stadium on your right hand side. Leave at the A27 and take the slip road sign posted Falmer (B2123). At the top of the slip road turn right crossing back over the A27 and the entrance to the stadium is down on the right.
There is no parking at the stadium for away fans (although coaches minibuses will be allowed to park providing that they have been pre-booked with the Club) and there is a large no parking zone in force around the area of the stadium on matchdays.
Some Sat-Navs are not recognising the stadium post code of BN1 9BL. You can try instead BN1 9SD which takes you to nearby Falmer Railway Station instead.
Park & Ride
The Club are encouraging fans to use the Park & Ride services located at three different locations; Mill Road (BN1 8ZF), Brighton Racecourse (BN2 9XZ) and Mithras House at Brighton University (BN2 4AT).
Probably the easiest for away fans to locate is Mill Road, as it is just off the A23/A27 junction. However, this is by far the busiest of the three, so if you have time on your hands consider using one of the other alternatives such as Brighton Racecourse. The capacity of Mill Road is 500 cars. The road is located next to a BP garage, which (if coming down from London) you will see over on your right at the top of the slip road off the A23.
The Park & Ride is open from 12 noon on Saturdays (with last departure at 2.30pm) and 5.30pm for evening kick offs. The last buses return from the stadium 90 minutes after the end of the game. The cost of the Park & Ride is included in the price of your match ticket. So just show your match ticket or proof of ticket booking (if collecting your match tickets from the ticket office at the stadium). Please note that vehicles must removed no later than two hours after the game has ended.
Mill Road isn't a car park as such, but a normal road that is closed for this purpose. Tony Hewitt informs me; 'I parked at Mill Road before an England Under 19 match. The Park and Ride was well-organised both ways. Going in, you park parallel in the next slot and it is easy to drive in. Buses and cars leave the road at the other end so it is completely one-way and simple. The road is divided into zones (A-E). Coming back after the game, it was well run by the stewards with only a 10 minute wait for a bus. The bus stops at all the zones so you end up close enough to your car'. Martyn Clark a visiting Leeds United adds; 'Before the game the Park and Ride was fine. We got on a coach (which was rather ancient looking) fairly quickly and it seemed well organised. I did note though, that eventhough we had arrived two hours before kick off the Park & Ride was already around three quarters full. After the game it was a completely different story. It took ages to get out of the ground and when we got to the bus pick up area, we found incredibly long queues trying to get up some narrow steps. All in all it took 1 hour 25 minutes from the end of the game to getting on a bus and moving back to Mill Road Park and Ride. Everyone (including Brighton fans) were very frustrated.'
Pam a visiting Leeds United fan tells me; 'We parked at the Park & Ride at Brighton racecourse. This park and ride was also poorly signposted and the actual car park was just a field. Returning after the game we found the area to be unlit and had difficulty in locating our car in the dark. There were also no staff around, which I found alarming. Considering that the Park & Ride is used by both home and away supporters, then this is a potential incident waiting to happen. I also dread to think what the state of the parking will be like in the winter.'
The nearest railway station is Falmer, which is situated right by the stadium. Kevin Bartholomew informs me; 'The quickest and easiest way to get to the stadium though is by train. Falmer station is adjacent to the ground. It's three stops from Brighton central station on the line to Lewes and Seaford. Alternatively, you can avoid Brighton completely by getting a train to Lewes and changing there for Falmer. There are four trains an hour in either direction'.
Brighton Central Railway Station is over four miles away from the stadium. So either get a train, taxi or bus up to the stadium. Brighton & Hove Bus No 25 (Route and timetable on the Brighton & Hove Bus Company website, which shows bus stops) operates a regular service (every 12 minutes) up to the stadium from Central Brighton, as do Bus Numbers 28 & 29.
The Club have a scheme whereby travel to the stadium by public transport within a geographical zone is free as it is included within the price of your match ticket. Valid on both buses and trains, just simply show your match ticket or booking form (if collecting your tickets from the Stadium ticket office). The zone extends as far north as Haywards Heath station and east to Lewes. So fans travelling from London for instance only need a train ticket to Haywards Heath.
Rob Haynes a visiting Nottingham Forest Fan also found going by train frustrating; 'We stayed in Brighton so walked to the station and arrived at 13.30 to find a huge queue snaking around the concourse. Whilst it generally quite well organised it didn't add much to the pre-match experience to have to stand and wait for such a long period before getting on a packed train to the ground. Fans that left it later no doubt had an even longer wait. After the game we walked straight from the away end to the train station. At 6pm (the game finished before 5pm) I was finally moving and on my way into Brighton centre. All generally organised okay but again such a frustrating wait and such a waste of time! Trains again jammed back to Brighton. Thankfully no trouble but potential for trouble after needle game is multiplied by the time it takes to get in and out the ground. I feel sorry for any Brighton fans having to experience such long waits, especially in poor weather'. Alternatively you could consider parking/staying in the pleasant town of Lewes and getting a train from there to the stadium.