The home of the Portuguese football team Sporting Clube is a colourful and multi-functional venue, which will host five Euro 2004 matches, including a quarter and semifinal. The 55,300-seater stadium has already attracted hundreds of visitors, even when there are no football matches. It has a small shopping centre, a health club, 10 cinema screens, a big bowling area and, if there are any problems, the emergency services can access a small prison and a clinic that specialises in sports injuries.
Not only has the stadium got enough attractions to keep the whole family entertained, it is one of the few football stadiums in Portugal that has the ability to hold big concerts, such as the Phil Collins concert that will take place there on July 3. The Resident reporter Nikki Hall visited the site and met Sporting Clube spokesperson, Dr. Dias, to find out more.
The first thing that strikes any visitor to the stadium is the wildly coloured spectator seating, which overlooks the football ground. It looks amazing and also has a psychological purpose. Dr. Dias explained that, even when the arena is half empty, when players look up at the crowd the multicoloured seats make it look as though the stadium is full of fans.
One of the stadium’s strongest points is security. There is a deep trench, which runs all around the pitch, to stop pitch invasions – something that the Algarve Stadium does not have. However, although the trench is designed to keep angry fans from getting to the pitch, several fans managed to storm the trench on May 3, during a Sporting vs. Benfica match. “They were on the pitch for no longer than five minutes,” Dr. Dias explained.
Although the fans didn’t cause a riot, the incident caused concern among members of the Faro Professional Police Syndicate (SPP), who are unhappy with the design of the Algarve Stadium. “As far as we are concerned, the Alvalade football stadium is safe, although some changes may have to be made. But the Algarve Stadium is a cause for worry. It doesn’t have a trench, which could be a security threat during the Euro 2004 championship,” a spokesperson from the SPP revealed.
According to the SPP, the Alvalade football stadium is the only one out of the 10 Euro 2004 venues that has “excellent security measures”. “The Algarve Stadium doesn’t have those excellent qualities, which is beginning to worry us because all of our police agents will be responsible for the residents’ safety, as well as keeping the fans controlled during the Euro 2004,” he said.