The Amsterdam ArenA : LUSENET : Ajax USA : One Thread

What's it like to see Ajax play in the Arena? For most of us in the USA, it's merely something we can dream about, so please help us with some visual aids. :-)

FWIW, Michiel Herpers and I co-wrote a Profile of the Arena while it was still under-construction. Of course, this little item (my profile, not the Arena) is now sadly out of date, but you might still find it interesting.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2000


By the way: false alarm about the pitch. It's a good pitch. Nothing wrong with it.

-- Anonymous, October 20, 2002

Yeah, I knew it was old, but I thought it was interesting enough to post a link.

Anyhoo, if my Dutch is as good as I think it is, the following from ANP says that the Arena is a candidate for the CL final. Sweet!

De KNVB heeft de Amsterdam Arena bij de UEFA voorgedragen om een finale van de Champions League te herbergen. Het stadion dingt mee voor de organisatie van de eindstrijd van het belangrijkste Europese toernooi in 2003/2004 of 2004/2005.

-- Anonymous, October 19, 2002

Nice article indeed, Jim, but note that it describes the situation of 1997-2000. Things have improved significantly since; the problem is that many people refuse to see or admit that - and keep playing the same old record. Every Celtic fan I spoke to thought the atmosphere was great and that the section of Ajax fans travelling to Glasgow two weeks later was arguably the best away support that ever visited Parkhead.

Sadly, one ArenA problem seems to have returned... the (f##king) pitch.

A new pitch was placed this Monday. Funny: everyone (even journalists, who are supposed to draw a realistic picture) immediately went 'oh yeah, a new picth in the ArenA again'... Not knowing that the previous pitch has been there for (I believe) almost two years - and that it was one of the best pitches in Holland last season (better than the one in eindhoven; equally good as the one in de kuip, for example).

But, unfortunately, the new pitch (reportedly) looks horrible. And the top layer is said to le loose very easily. It is expected to look like a battlefield after the AZ game and to be in terrible condition for the Rosenborg game...

You know what the worst thing is? The excellent pitch we had was destroyed because the Amsterdam city council chose for the ArenA as the place where a few hundred thousand toddlers had to be vaccinated against meningitis (not sure whether the name of the disease is the same in English).. Tens of thousands of kids and their parents trashed the pitch for a few days in a row, which was filled with tables and chairs for the doctors, peforating the grass...

Damn, Ajax has to buy this stadium a.s.a.p., so they city council will have to find some other place for that crap (don't get me wrong: it's a good thing that all those kids were vaccinated regardless of their parents' income or insurance - that's not it. It's just that they should have done it somewhere else, in some market hall or whatever).

-- Anonymous, October 19, 2002

Just stumbled onto this interesting commentary from Simon Kuper, written for Glasgow's Sunday Herald around the CL games with Celtic:


-- Anonymous, October 17, 2002


Even more Israeli flags than usual may soon be on display in the Amsterdam ArenA. There's a report on Ajax Netwerk (taken from Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz), which says that Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv has told the UEFA that the ArenA is their second option of preference to play their UEFA Cup home games.

Due to the explosive political situation in the Middle East, neither Israeli club teams nor the national team can play their home games in Israel.

Hapoel's first choice to play its UEFA Cup home game aainst Leeds United is Florence, Italy. The local football stadium is out of use now Fiorentina has gone bankrupt. The Amsterdam ArenA is second. Ha'aretz reports that Hapoel Tel Aviv is not the only Israeli club considering the ArenA as its 'home' ground.

Interesting. Due to its Jewish roots, Amsterdam is a very Israel- minded city. This became clear when Hapoel played Ajax for the UEFA Cup. I'm pretty sure they're considering the ArenA because of their warm welcome they to Amsterdam back then.

-- Anonymous, October 13, 2002

Nice One Jim

I note from the website that Ajax havenot provided a testimonial - I wonder why ?

If they had provided one would it have read :-

So nice to meet old friends again, when you relaid our pitch for the xth time. We have nothing but praise for the craftmanship and the durability of the turf supplied, as this time around it has actually lasted one month before becoming a danger to the players. As you know, we first selected the turf from your company after one of our staff recommended the turf after stumbling across the field on the Yorkshire Moors and felt that the growing conditions would be exactly the same as found in an enclosed space such as the ArenA. He still swears blind that he was not trespassing on your property to get a closer view to the sheep grazing but merely looking for the wellington boots lost the previous day. Our only gripe is that the players feel that we should take the washed turf in future as they are getting fed-up with sliding on the sheep-s**t. Looking forward to a long and profitable (to you) relationship and also an entry in the Guiness Book of Records. Yours Etc.

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002

Here's an amusing link. "Several" is hardly the word to use... .uk/rolawn_sport.htm

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002

So ArenA doesn't belong to Ajax...Damn i'm quite astonished. I believed they had spent millions of guilden for this stadium. Maybe it's a kinda rental for a season ???. No doubt that ArenA and Stade de France are the most beautiful stadiums in the world anyway. I've worked all the holidays so that i can afford a trip to Amsterdam soon...I can't wait to see a match; even a friendly against a 4th division club !!!

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2002

Could anyone send me an e-mail with an URL to where I could see costs and other specs dor the ArenA? I was just wondering, seeing as we're having a discussion in my team's forum about our new stadium.

If you don't know of any websites with info, but have it yourself, and could be arsed(sorry;) to send me an e-mail about it, I'd be very grateful! ;)

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2002

It's been a while since we've heard news on this subject... the artificial pitch discussion!

Regional Dutch newspaper Haagsche Courant reports that no Dutch league games will be played on artificial grass this upcoming season. KNVB director Henk Kesler announced earlier that a few clubs in Holland were going to play on an artificial pitch in the 2002-2003 season, but the united Eredivisie and First Division clubs have said 'no' to this plan. They want to wait for the first official UEFA experiment in 2003-2004. Before that, the clubs will not play on artificial turf.

Even if the clubs would have co-operated and Dutch football would have seen its first artificial pitches, Ajax would definitely not have been one of the clubs involved. Artificial pitches are not allowed yet in European competitions, so the clubs testing artificial grass would have been clubs not participating in UEFA competitions.

Three Dutch clubs have officially volunteered with the UEFA to play a game on artificial grass in 2003-2004: NEC, De Graafschap and AZ. Ajax has its own plans when it comes to artificial turf, but will - like any other club - need UEFA permission first.

Okay - so this will not be an issue for the upcoming season. We'll see again next season.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2002

A foreign invasion in the ArenA? Infidels in sacred Seats? If ever there was a need for an exorcism to be performed, this is it. Or at least fumigation by competent pest control authorities.As if the pitch hasn't had enough issues raised about it.The anarchy at the ArenA will probably be used to once again jam the fake grass idea down peoples throats. The authorities permitting the described fiasco = MORONUS MAXIMUS.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2002

They're now playing the Limburg provincial anthem.

We've just had the Frisian anthem...

The music is played by a provincial brass-band consisting of men who all have moustaches...

This is desacration.

My God.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2002

The "People's Party", the night before the royal wedding, is live on TV right now. I wish you guys were here to have a look...

It's surreal. They randomly invited 50,000 people from all twelve Dutch provinces. The invitations were sent randomly, but guess what: they seem to have invited 50,000 idiots! No exceptions. A 100% score, I'll tell you.

50.000 boeren, singing stupid Dutch traditionals you learn in Kindergarten. All kinds of really cheesy brass-bands... Man, it's surreal.

What a deeply sad spectacle... Christ, maybe there's some stupid moron from Eindhoven (a p$v fan??) sitting in seat seat.

Please Ajax... buy that stadium and never allow such a disgraceful proletarian feast in it again. They occupied the F-Side, for crying out loud! They should have been be stuffed into the visitors section, all 50,000 of 'em. That's where they belong: in the boeren section... ;-)

Coming to think of it: I'm glad you guys are not here. I hope no-one outside Holland will see this disgusting display of "Dutch- ness".

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2002

According to Ajax Netwerk, the Amsterdam ArenA is one of UEFA's candidates for the next season's Champions League final. Rotterdam's De Kuip (Feyenoord) is also in the running. Eindhoven's Philips Stadium (PSV) and Arnhem's Gelredome (Vitesse) are amongst the eight candidates for the 2002-2003 UEFA Cup final.

UEFA will announce the locations for the 2002-2003 finals on 12 and 13 December. This year's European finals will be played in Glasgow's Celtic Park and De Kuip in Rotterdam (it's not completely obvious in Ajax Netwerk's report which one is the CL and which one the UEFA Cup, MP).

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2001

Right! You don't have to pay for the toilet in a theater either, cause you already payed for the ticket! Ar they nuts, it should be a service for the customers.

-- Anonymous, September 18, 2001

This is ridiculous... Read this on the the OFA website (OFA = Independent Ajax Fanclub):


Starting this season, Ajax has decided to stop paying the Amsterdam ArenA for spectators using the restrooms inside the stadium. In the past, Ajax payed 25 Dutch cents for each customer using a restroom. This 'redemption ruling' is now no longer used. This makes paying for restroom use obligatory for spectators."

Yeah, right... I'm not paying for the toilet inside a football stadium, during games for which I bought a friggin' season ticket. No way. Hereby, I beg the restroom ladies not to take my refusal personally ;-)

-- Anonymous, September 18, 2001

Magazine Nieuwe Revu asked all the clubs whether they would vote against the artificial grass or not. Here's what they said:

Only Roda JC doesn't have any problem at all.

De Graafschap thinks it's OK, but only if they are allowed to train on it a day before they have to play on it.

Vitesse, FC Utrecht, Heerenveen, Sparta, RKC and FC Groningen are still don't know what to think about it.

PSV, Feyenoord, FC Twente, NEC, NAC, Willem II, AZ, Den Bosch and Fortuna Sittard are definitely against it.

So: no chance that there will be an artificial pitch this year! Ajax better first start building an artificial pitch on their training complex and invite the other teams to play on it (my opinion). Maybe then they can put an artificial pitch in the ArenA next summer.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2001

To answer Hidde's question, I think we're stupid. Or, we were, until we did a bit of research...

The following comments were posted by Russell Campbell to the North America Soccer list-serv, in response to my comment about Ajax's plans to introduce an artificial pitch in the Arena:

Actually, the move is not as bad as one might think. Unlike the old carpet style Astroturf, the newer fake grass surfaces are pretty good. Nexturf, Field Turf, and I think a third brand are competitors but all have the same style construction. The fake grass is exactly that, *fake* *grass*. Individual synthetic blades of grass laid out in a uniform manner.

Some initial experimentation with it produced hard fields since they filled with sand to make the fibers stand up. The sand eventually became hard. Now, however, they're filling with synthetic sand made of micro pellets of recycled rubber. The result is a very soft surface.

Portland's Timbers play on such a surface in PGE Park (what many of you visited as Civic Stadium and has since been significantly remodelled). We had all hoped for real grass but given the multi use nature of the stadium and the climate the ownership group went with the best fake possible. I've stood on it and run on it. It's not grass but it's as close as we're likely to get and have a purely flat, well drained surface. Comfortable to run on, no worse than real grass to slide on (no rug burn like the old astroturf), and the bounces are true because the surface is soft. The players here like it. The only major difference is that it is *so* uniform that the surface itself has very little friction effect on the ball. The game can get quite pacey if the players are so inclined.

The other comment I've got on it is how it looks. It looks like a well manicured golf course might. From the stands many of the friends I've taken to the matches have remarked at how nice the grass looks, well kept and they wish they could keep their lawns that nice looking. It looks good enough that if you don't know and aren't looking for it you can be fooled into thinking it's real grass. These friends were surprised to find out it wasn't real. Even a Brit ex-patriot friend was fooled and he'd been to several matches before he made the comment and I told him it was fake.

Here's a picture of this stuff in action:

...and some more pictures of this field in action. And the vendor of Fieldturf has a very thorough website you can visit. Some people claim this product is the reason FIFA eliminated the no-fake grass rule...

Still, you can imagine the derision that will be directed toward the fans of teams with so-called "real" football stadia (like De Kuip) if Ajax removes the one remaining living element from their 'space age' multipurpose stadium. :-o

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I read that FC Twente have lodged a complaint as well.Let the parade begin. I simply hope that the engineers who designed a stadium which doesn't get the air or light needed for good pitch growth aren't being tasked to get an artificial pitch. If so, AJAX are better playing in the carpark outside the ArenA.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

The KNVB has told all Eredivisie clubs to file a protest if they don't want Ajax to place an artificial pitch in the ArenA.

The first official protest was filed today, by (guess who?)... the Feyenerds... :-/

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

What are you guys stupid or something?????? They arn't gonna get artificial grass that you can't slide on because it burns or whatever!!!! Four years ago UEFA started to investigate artificial grass, and a new fibre has been found that looks, feels and PLAYS like real grass What would you rather have, Ajax playing on the muddy, slippery 'grass' Ajax plays on now, or good grass (wheather it was grown or made in a lab in California)?????????

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

I realize that improvements in artificial turf have been made since it was first developed. Why, recycled rubber and newspaper bits moulded together look almost like real grass.Big deal!!

The only thing real about artificial grass is the pain suffered by athletes.Hell, I was only a bench warming scrub of an American football player...a PTP'er..pine time player. My memories of playing on the "carpet " are of carpet burns on my skin and even chemical burns when the stuff aged(badly at that)and wore out.

Injuries like turf toe( small fractures, sprains, and strains in the toes which take forever to heal right),

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

How sad...
Artificial pitch in ArenA sooner than expected

17 July: Daily newspaper De Telegraaf reports today that there is a reasonable chance that the Amsterdam ArenA will have an artificial pitch very soon, probably even this season. The management of the ArenA stadium say they only have to wait for permission from the UEFA and the KNVB.

Unexpected technical developments are said to be the reason for this remarkable news. The management of the ArenA say it is likely that the ArenA will have its artificial pitch already in February 2002. In an earlier stage the management did not expect to have such a pitch for another two or three years.

The KNVB doesn't think that the UEFA will object to an artificial pitch in the ArenA. "The UEFA likes the idea of a pilot study such as there will be in the ArenA," spokesman De Leede stated. "It won't take months. And if the UEFA agrees, the KNVB will too."

The KNVB has already asked the other Dutch clubs if they have any objections to playing on an artificial pitch in the ArenA. The clubs have to respond before the 18th of August, but the KNVB doesn't think there will be any objections. "More and more clubs train and play friendlies on artificial grass."

If the UEFA agrees, the management of the ArenA will start looking for the right company as soon as possible. So maybe the next Ajax- Feyenoord on March 3 will be played on artificial grass. (BV)

(Source: De Telegraaf)

Look for a full news announcement on Ajax USA later today.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

nice answer jim, very clever actually. despite these reports i really doubt that they would put in artificial grass in the ArenA, it would totally undermine ajax soccer. it would be like what us silly americans did to indoor soccer, cerating 2 and 3 point goals, it would be like fake socccer. i pray that this report is bullshit, it would be a ridiculous move by ajax or the arena or whoever is deciding this. it may be economical but common, it's also ridiculous. and jim, i can definitely say that the grass is better in amsterdam. :)

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

For this to be good news, there would have to be HUGE advancements in the science of artificial pitch engineering in the past years. Even the so-called 'state of the art' pitches -- like the one at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon (Go Ducks!) is not much like real grass.

Artificial turf (sometimes called AstroTurf because it was used in the AstroDome of the Houston Astros baseball team many moons ago) can look great and even feel great when you're walking on it. But running, turning and especially stopping on it (not to mention sliding) can be extremely unpredictable. They coined a phrase: 'turf knee' for the kind of degenerative effect artificial turf has on the cartilage of the knees over time.

To me, this would be the final indignity, the apotheosis (a word I learned from Menno) of what is 'wrong' with the Arena compared to de Meer.

But heck, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe even the *artificial* grass is better in Amsterdam. :-P

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

I read the following news on the Ajaxmania-BB: On 10 Feb 2002 the Amsterdam ArenA will have an artificial pitch! There seem to be still a few obstacles, but it is said that that shouldn't be a big problem...

Somebody on the BB said that this news was also on the *Sportjournaal*, last Friday, so there's probably some truth in it.

If I can find anymore confirmation about it, I'll definitely come back to you. So far for the (i.m.o.) GOOD NEWS!

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

well.....thanks for the heads up on that psv situation menno. i don't mean to be a brat or anything but it is just wrong to let psv, feyenoord or even vitesse play on our home field for european competition. tough shit for them if their stadium got banned, they'll have to figure it out, then again, i guess they did since they are now playing in arnhem. figures that vitesse would let them play there....they need a lot of money. well, all is well then, just as long as the only time psv come to the arena they are getting ready to play ajax.....otherwise we're deadbolting the doors!

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

I agree with Evan: there's no way PSV is gonna play their Champs League game in our stadium. I just don't feel like being rational about this one...

Well, Evan: good news. The deal's off, because there is a chance that Ajax is playing European games itself that week... That chance was already there and is still exactly as big as it was when PSV first talked to the ArenA management, but whatever - it's the official reason, according to the NOS and AT5 Tele Text services. PSV will play its first game at Vitesse's Gelredome stadium in Arnhem.

GOOD. All's well that ends well.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

first of all, there is no way in hell we should allow psv to play their match in our stadium, i hope we aren't even contemplating it, that's ridiculous. and secondly, why can't we lay a good pitch for once. it's like an ice skating rink out there. players were losing their footing even with the longer studs, many times they would have top switch boots at half time, as a player, i know how a horrible pitch can ruin the game. it's not in a really bad condition but we should be able to provide a pitch that doesn't lend itself to the constant falling of the players. the stadium itself is great, i was fortunate enough to catch louis van gaal's last game as the head boss at ajax. it's a beautiful place to watch a beautiful game. everyone should visit. but really, let's get a good pitch for once, if it doesn't change, i think the ajax faithful will let a lot more onto the pitch than a cow.

-- Anonymous, June 20, 2001

This is a little bit weird... NOS TeleTekst reports that PSV want to play their first Champions League group game of the season in the Amsterdam ArenA! The Eindhoven team has to play one European home game at least 100 kilometres from Eindhoven, as a UEFA sanction for violent fan behaviour during the UEFA Cup home game against FC Kaiserslautern, in March of this year.

The Amsterdam ArenA management is willing to help PSV, but wants to talk the request over with Ajax, the main user of the stadium. Also, the Amsterdam police department will have to grant its permission. (Source: NOS TeleTekst)

Strange... Actually, I don't see it happening. Games between PSV and Ajax are 'high risk' events. I don't expect the police to voluntarily invite PSV to Amsterdam an extra time. Besides, Ajax may be playing a European home game themselves on that day.

-- Anonymous, June 14, 2001

I was at a Bon Jovi concert at the ArenA the other night (work! work! not a fan!). For the record: I didn't think too much of it, as in "I didn't have many actual thoughts". Bon Jovi doesn't seem to stimulate my brain, for some reason.

The only real thought I had all night was:


-- Anonymous, June 06, 2001

Nice photo of Arena and surroundings on

-- Anonymous, April 06, 2001

Yup. Pitch looked fine. A bit slippery, but apart from that it was the best grass we've had in a long time. Absolutely no reason to play such a shit game, that's for sure... :-(

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

The following is a translation (thanks, Frans) of an open letter presented to the "F-Side" supporters of Ajax prior to the Ajax-Willem II game on 11 February 2001:
We share the concerns you have about the pitch in the Arena. Therefore we are working day and night to improve the quality of the pitch, and believe it or not, after our first teams training, Thursday, we both felt it to be best pitch in the Arena for years.

We're not yet home free, but we are getting there

What we have fought for during the last 2 years happened in January. The old, wasted and hard bottomlayer has been replaces with a new layer of sand and fertile earth. Now, there is a good layer of nutrient, and for the first time the pitch is taking root in the Arena.

This doesn't mean our worries are over. The problem with stadiums like the Arena are well known to us. In Milan, Dortmund and Manchester, everywhere there are the same problems: too little sunlight, too little wind, too little... you name it.

Therefor we now need some time. The season is indeed unfavorable. Had it been April or May, then the rooting of the pitch would have gone faster. How the pitch will keep in today's match will be proven after the match. When you see people working on the pitch at halftime and after the match, this is nothing unusual; it happened in the Meer too. Damage is best repaired right away.

The pitch needs time. So we need time, too. So we ask you- man to man -for your support. We are working on it really hard, and we ask for at least as hard support.

- Bob Haarms, Grass Committee
- Han van Wees, terreinmeester

Indeed, the pitch did look good (at least on t.v.); the players seemed to have better footing, and you didn't see huge strips of sod being torn up underfoot.

Original text of letter, in Dutch:

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

What it is like to be in the ArenA Stadium? Well, let's see... have you ever been in an empty train-station at night? Not hearing anything? Sometimes, that is how it feels being in the ArenA. The stadium itself is marvelous. It really is a masterpiece of technology, but the atmosphere inside during a football match of AFC AJAX Amsterdam is not something to be proud of. Only the ones in the f-side (incluiding me) are always behing their team, shouting, singing etc. etc. Being a fan, what they should do.

Comparing the ArenA with "De Meer" (our previous stadium) is impossible. The fans were always behind their team.

We cannot explain fully, but the capacity increased from 20.000 to 50.000, and so a lot of new people came every match. Adding the fact that AFC AJAX Amsterdam split up the, feared F-side, throughout the whole stadium made it only worse the first year. That year it really felt if you were alone in the stadium. Only after the F-side began complaining they were reunited again in the stadium.

Strange thing though, during matches playing for European Cup / Champions' leage, there all of a sudden is a positive atmoshphere during the whole match. Why? Dunno! What I do know, is that the crowd should be standing up, and supporting AJAX throughout every game.


-- Anonymous, April 06, 2000

Don't be too sad about not being able to go to the Arena. Of course it's nice for once or maybe a few times, but going there regulary isn't too much of an adventure... You won't even be able to pay with cash...


-- Anonymous, March 25, 2000

Don't forget to visit the ArenA online: Note that this is the official ArenA site, so you will not find the tiniest bit of the criticism. Fanatical Ajax fans say that the good old 'De Meer' atmosphere has vanished since Ajax moved to the ArenA...

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2000

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