If you fancy a taste of the real new modern
Amsterdam displaying a beautiful new style of architecture combined with the
sensation of being in a futuristic micro-city within an old city, then you
should certainly visit the Amsterdam Arena. Here you will have the chance to do
a whole range of fun activities, from watching the Dutch national team or Ajax
Amsterdam play football in a stunning stadium, to listen to some great live
gigs in the nearby Heineken Music Hall or to simply go to a grandiose mall for
shopping or film watching.
If you thought the world famous Amsterdam
Arena is strictly confined to football fans, cheering crowds, and games, then
you need to guess again. When entering its neighbourhood for the first time, I
was assured that I will witness a simple green field, some football seats, and
the typical venue for watching a nice game as in any other cities in Europe. In
fact, what else could it have I thought since my only visual connection to the
area was the constant glimpse from the train I used to take frequently from Utrecht
to Amsterdam Central Station. I mean, it surely caught my eye during those
train rides as a beautiful colossal modern arena, and being a football fan
myself, I have seen it on TV during the Euro 2000 games hosted by Holland.
However, when I stepped in the district for the first time, I realised that it
transcended by far my limited a priori assumptions.
Indeed, the Amsterdam Arena is much more
than a football sports ground. As soon as I entered the area, I witnessed a complex
modern experience in a recently built neighbourhood centred around a breath
taking football stadium but also containing various attractions such as a 3D
cinema, large shopping malls, a park and a ride facility. Easily connected to
the centre of Amsterdam via both a train and a metro, it is a must see trip for
anyone interested in modern architecture, and in a general exciting afternoon
and evening in a different type of Amsterdam from what you have imagined it to
The grandiose building project was thought
out in 1986 when Holland decided to bid for the Summer Olympics 2012 to be
hosted in Amsterdam. With the hope of bringing in the charming Dutch city the
likes of famous sport athletes such Carl Lewis, Mike Powell or Michael Jordan,
the authorities have presented a breakthrough plan for constructing an Olympic
village in a deserted area, only 8 kilometres from the centres of Amsterdam.
Despite losing the bid to Barcelona, the $140 million plan was continued
especially since Amsterdam’s other stadium where the local famous team Ajax
usually played became too small for the ever increasing fans. The whole building
project was finalised in 1996 when the Amsterdam Arena, as well as its comprehensive
facilities flanking the stadium have been officially inaugurated.
Instead of becoming Holland’s Olympic headquarters,
the Amsterdam Arena became a symbol of the Ajax football team, a squad with
more than a hundred years of history and with the European’s most prestigious
trophy acquired only a couple of years before the grounds’ official opening. In
fact, the first match that was played there featured Ajax, and AC Milan, a team
they have beaten in 1994 in order to conquer Europe’s major trophy. Nowadays,
both Ajax, and the Dutch national team enjoy a large home support for the games
they play at the stadium. The ground has staged the final of the UEFA Champions
League final in 1998, and will soon be organizing the Europa League Final in
May 2013. If you ever participate in a football match at the arena, one word of
advice is to dress in orange when Holland plays so you can blend easily in a
sea of Oranje shirts bouncing up and down, and singing throughout the match.
The official opening of the stadium was
indeed spectacular, the Queen of Holland herself making a large curtain fail
and discovering the world’s largest painting De Zee (in English: The Sea)
featuring two dimensional ships representing the Dutch clubs participating in
the football championship. The famous music star Tina Turner held three
concerts which gathered a total audience of more than 160,000 people in the
arena and its surroundings. In addition, a large torch relay was organised in
the same style as for an Olympics ceremony with famous footballers such Johan
Cruyff and Frank Rijkaard running with the flame.
In terms of capacity, the majestic Arena
itself can host up to 53,052 persons joining in for sport and 68,000 for music
events, and it is the first stadium in the world that has an underground
passageway, while being the first in Europe with a sliding roof, so needed due
to the sketchy rainy Dutch weather. When I first stepped inside, I was
instantly excited by the extent of complexity worked to the maximum in the
facilities existent inside the arena. The place is a virtual micro-climate of
various detailed facilities such as locker rooms, weighting rooms, a very large
gym, an ultra VIP players’ lounge, and a lot more. The car drivers can be
especially delighted since the Arena can host up to 12000 spots outside the
stadium, and 500 cars in the inside parking area.
The ground also plays host to various
musical events throughout the year with some of the world’s most famous singers
such as Madonna, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones having
brought in large crowds to enjoy the phenomenal acoustic and great view
displayed within the stadium. In addition, some of the world’s biggest party
events take stage here on a yearly basis such as the Sensation or the Black
nights. Furthermore, the Arena’s diverse genre experiences are further enhanced
by its theatre performances, major selling product presentations, company
training sessions, and various types of business events making the venue used extensively
throughout the year.
If you are interested in the 100 years
history of one of Holland’s most traditional and successful clubs, then you can
surely enjoy the Ajax museum inside featuring various trophy, videos, and a
highly interactive presentation offered by the fun and friendly guides.
In addition, you can also endeavour in the
special World Of Ajax tour where you will be taken to all the major facilities
within the stadium such as the press room where the football coaches and
players give interviews before matches, you can check out the control room of
the stadium, as well as have a great view of the Ajax team training on the nearby
field. The tours cost only €12, and occur 5 times daily while lasting for about
an hour and forty five minutes giving you a chance to explore the inside world
of football within the beautiful arena.
Other Attractions in the Neighbourhood
If the Amsterdam arena experience was not
enough for you, then you can go ahead, and explore the neighbourhood for a
large array of other fun activities. Alongside the arena, a whole new small
town centre (the Amsterdam Zuidoost Centre) has been created, and is all well
connected by the newly built Arena Boulevard which gives you a breathtaking
skyline around the stadium. Among the nearby attractions, the famous Heineken
Music Hall provides for a smaller gig venue but still has the capacity of about
5000 people that can join in for fun concerts and gigs. Next to it you can
choose from 9 screen movie theatres offering the latest Hollywood favourites.
To add the cherry on top, the very large nearby
Villa and Arcade Arena shopping centres present over 75000 square meters of
shopping fun where you can check the latest clothing collections at very decent
prices, and purchase various presents and
souvenirs for your loved ones back home. The shopping mall is situated over
four floors and abounds of various types of shops including ceramic, art or
gadgets. If you are a fan of interior decorations, you can explore an unusual
yet charming display of colours and special furniture for your homes, at the
specialised shops found all around.
While visiting the Arenas, I could not help
myself indulging in a delicious Dutch meal at one of the restaurants found
under glass roofed void on the fourth floor of the vast shopping mall. There
are also various cafes, as well as child facilities if you come accompanied by
your little ones so, in other words, there is room for everyone in this Mecca
of shopping and modernity.
to Get There?
The Amsterdam Arena is located
approximately 8 kilometres south from the main train Central Station. However,
you can easily reach it by taking the metro lines 50 and 54 straight to the
Amsterdam-Bijlmer-Arena. When you walk out the metro, make sure you take the
exit Arena Boulevard, and walk to the stadium via the impressive modern
commercial mall. You can also reach the Arena by bus via the lines 29, 158,
174, 177 or 178, and exit at the Station Bijmer Arena. Finally, you can also
arrive by car from the ring by taking direction South Utrecht, and exit very
soon at the Transferium. There you can park your car, and walk to the arena straight
from there. You can find more information about how to get around in Amsterdam using the public transit system by watching the video below.
exact address of the Amsterdam Arena is Arena Boulevard number 29 but if you ask anyone in the
vicinity, they should be able to guide you easily to the stadium area. Remember,
most Dutch people speak very good English, and are generally very helpful so do
not hesitate to ask them any questions if you need so.