by Emily Marie
Bronx, New York
December 14, 2003
The Gelredome opened in the late 1990s. It is the home stadium of the Vitesse Arnhem football club. Vitesse is often a good team, but have played poorly the last few seasons.
As one of the often good teams in The Netherlands, Vitesse plays in one of the bigger stadiums in the country. The Gelredome holds almost 30,000 people, mostly in four one-tiered seating areas. There is one block of seats behind each touchline. This looked interesting to me because instead of the seats being built in a continuous oval, there are walls separating each area. The rest of the seats are in luxury and corporate boxes behind the regular seats on the sidelines.
The Gelredome has a retractable roof. This is good when the weather is lousy, but the field has no ventilation. In a country where smoking is the norm and sports fans throw smoke bombs to celebrate, this place gets smoky fast. People with breathing problems may not be able to survive here when the roof is closed.
The field itself is unique. The turf is on one large tray, a few inches thick. When the field is not in use, or when there is a concert, it is rolled out under one of the end zones and completely outside the building! This assures the field won't be damaged by a concert stage, as well as allows the grass to get a true outside treatment to help it stay healthy.
When I went to the Gelredome, I wasn't able to walk around too much. I believe there is no continuous walkway around the stadium, but that each seating area has its own promenade. The one by my seat was wide and like the lobby of a theater. There were a number of concession stands. In order to buy food, you have to get a vending card from a machine.
Under the endzone opposite where the field rolls out is the team store. It's not too big, but it has everything you may want to buy
When I was preparing to go to the Gelredome, I sent an e-mail to Vitesse. The people there were very helpful in helping us buy tickets. Usually tickets are sold out or reserved only for people with season and club cards, so contacting the team is the way to go.
If you like seeing stadiums, check out the Gelredome. Those special bits here though don't really make themselves all that visible on game day, unless it's raining. In that case, the place gets uncomfortable to sit there and watch a game in the smoke. Therefore, unless you really want to see this place, it may not be worth the aggravation.
From journal A Bridge too Far