On Saturday evening Stockholm finally welcomed in Tele2 Arena as Hammarby IF meet Örgryte IS. Of the two new arenas built in the city, Tele2 Arena was always going to be the better one. It’s centrally located, easy to access with public transportation, and aesthetically it’s also much better looking that Friends Arena. Tele2 Arena is also much smaller than Friends Arena and more adapt to the average attendance of Swedish football.
Saturday’s match felt very much like a trail run. A lot of the surrounding area remains under construction surrounded by temporary fences. At the press entrance there was plenty of confusion for accredited photographers and journalists. I was turned away at one entrance and had to go around the entire venue only to discover I wasn’t on the list there either.
Once inside the atmosphere was excellent. The acoustics of Tele2 Arena are much better than Friends Arena, the sound is at times deafening. The only negatives are the artificial pitch and the color scheme. This venue really deserved a proper pitch. As for the color scheme, it’s just plain dull. The seats are all various shades of grey, and they sit atop a structure that is concrete grey, surrounded by the upper walls which are metallic grey. So grey, grey, and more grey. A little more color and contrast sure as heck would not hurt.
Hammarby almost sold out the venue as they packed in over 28,000 fans, unfortunately they were not able to give the fans a victory or even a goal. There has been a lot of arguing between Hammarby and Djurgården over this venue. Hammarby fans see it as the new Söder Stadion, it’s built on their turf and within walking distance from the soon to be demolished Söder Stadion. Meanwhile Djurgården fans see it as the new Stockholm Stadium and have no problem going to play in another part of town.
Through this rivalry you could sense that the fans expected a goal. They came really close when Christophe Lallet had a shot rattle off the post in the second half. When the game ended a draw there was a lot of anger at the thought that Djurgården might score the first goal in the new arena.
The away supporters showed their lack of enthusiasm for Sweden’s march towards modern venues. The irony here is part of their complaint is over seating only sections and yet they are located in a standing section.
Unlike Friends Arena, Tele2 Arena has standing sections on both shorts sides. Yet there is a little oddity in how they were designed. On the northern short side the standing section goes all the way down beneath the ground level. So if you are at the very bottom you have the ground level more or less at your waist. There isn’t much of a barrier either and you can easily pull yourself up and access the pitch. Meanwhile on the souther short side the standing section goes down and ends level with the ground level. There is then a barrier fence which comes up to your waist. I guess both of them can be easily hopped, but lets just say that the northern end is much more inviting for any would be pitch invaders.