Since leaving their beloved Goldstone Ground in 1997, Brighton and Hove Albion endured a nomadic existence, lodging first in Kent at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium until 1999 before calling the cramped Withdean “home” until this year.
For supporters and press alike, the wait for a purpose-built stadium has been interminable.
That wait ends on Saturday, August 6 when the Albion kick off the 2011-2012 campaign against Doncaster in their stunning £93 million new home at Falmer. The 22,376 capacity Amex Stadium boasts state of the art press facilities, as FWA national commitee members Brian Scovell and Tony Hudd discovered on a specially arranged guided tour under the auspices of club press officer Paul Camillin.
This is situated above the players’ tunnel and contains 50 padded seats. Under each seat is a power socket and ISDN lines are available. The club also intend installing screen monitors for the purpose of action replays. There is ample leg room under each of the desks while access in and out of the press box is easy. It is an exceedingly comfortable press box affording excellent views of the pitch whose dimensions are the same as those at Wembley. While we were there, the club we experimenting with a swipe card that would assist reporters in moving around.
This is even bigger than Wembley’s and Brighton consider it the largest in the country. There is ample room for after-match interviews and to assist working journalists there are 50 power points. It is adjacent to the mixed zone. There is a problem with phone signals in the lounge which the club intend solving by the time the season starts.
Food and drink
Pre-match complimentary teas, coffees and soft drinks are available for the press while homemade pies, sandwiches and cakes will be served at half-time. Reporters from the North or Midlands should be able to purchase a pint of their favourite tipple. For instance supporters and reporters making the trip from Blackpool will be able to enjoy a pint of Thwaites!
Brighton are attempting to increase car parking space. Reporters using public transport should note that a regular service runs from Brighton to Falmer with a journey time of eight minutes. On alighting the train just walk up the slope and into the ground.
Just about everything in the Amex meets with UEFA specifications.
Be prepared to be amazed.