Antwerp Sportpaleis

Team – Antwerp Giants

Getting to City – Antwerp has an airport, you can fly there from London and several other European cities. We tend to take the Eurotunnel as the drive is only a few hours (you can easily drive there on a Saturday, watch a Saturday evening game and return home on the Sunday, assuming you love within about 3 hours of the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal).

You can also get there using Euroline buses but that will take significantly longer.

Antwerp – If you like cobbled street and Belgian beer this is a city you should visit. If you are planning a Eurotunnel overnight trip you won’t have a lot of time to see the city unless you allow for an early Saturday start and a late Sunday return.

If you do have time to explore, highlights include:

  • the Grote Markt (market square)
  • De Koninck (brewery)
  • St Anna’s Tunnel

There are also several museums, art galleries and churches.

Getting to venue– Your ticket to the sportpaleis will give you free transport on the trams to and from the event and there is a tram stop just outside the venue. If you are planning to travel around from earlier in the day or the following day a daily tram ticket is 6 euro if purchased in advance (8 euro if purchased on the tram).

If you choose to drive to the venue there is ample parking which is 5 euro for the duration of the event.

Venue –  This is a large venue, also used for gigs I believe. The venue is well signposted so it is really easy to find your seat. The seats themselves are the usually plastic seats found in sports venue so there are average for comfort.

If you are not used to Belgian venues an important point to note is that you will be charged for using the facilities (washrooms/restrooms/WCs) so make sure you have some change to hand, about 80 eurocents each should be enough.

Food in venue – The venue gets massive bonus points for efficiency, they have a great system for pouring and serving drinks so even if there is a big queue it won’t take long to get served. The usual fair of beer, wine, sparkling wine, fries etc. is available. Price are reasonable.They have a large Haribo stall but I think this is overpriced.

 

Surrey Sports Park

Access

Surrey Sports Park is easily accessible by car and they have plenty of free car parking available. The car park empties fairly quickly at the end of the game so you don’t have to worry about hanging around for a while.

There is also a nearby train station (Guilford) but I think access from the train station to the sports park can be a little time consuming.

Seats

Bleacher style seating is used at Surrey Sports Park (no back to the seats). This is quite common in BBL venues but not ideal if you have any back problems.

Food and Drink

There is a Starbucks and a bar in the venue. Within the basketball hall itself they sell hotdogs, soft drinks and Krispy Kremes.

Spirou Charleroi v Antwerp Giants November 7 2015

Last week I went to Charleroi to see Spirou take on the Giants.

I have to say that the venue was much quieter than I expected it to be, in terms of number of people. It was however nice and loud in terms of volume. The home fans have create a great atmosphere.

The supportes club displaying some impressive instruments.

The supporters club displaying some impressive instruments.

The Game

I am was pleased by the limited commentary and music during the game. It allowed the fans, home and away, to make a lot of noise to support the teams.

Antwerp were clear winners of q1, with a five point lead. Charleroi came back in q2 to go into the half with a 2 point lead. The lead flipped again by the end of q3 and finally switched again to end with a win from Charleroi.

It was a good game in that it was not easy to predict who would win. There were some sloppy mistakes made by both teams. It was not one of the more memorable games I have been to – there were few stand out moments. There was one buzzer beating three (to beat the shot-clock).

The Venue

The venue is easily accessible by car and there was plenty of nearby parking.

The venue was a good size and there was plenty of sign posting to help you find your section.

A range of food and drink was available. This was all at one point, which was adjacent to the entrance. This did cause some access issues. Available food included sandwiches, waffles, hot dogs, sweets and waffles. Standard soft drinks, wine and a range of Belgian beers were also available.

Mediolanum Forum

The venue is relatively easy to access, once you are in Milan. It has a dedicated stop on the M2 metro line and, on the way there, the trains seemed to be relatively frequent.The ticket machines are not very clear. The metro system in Milan runs on a flat fare basis, unless you travel out of the urban area and you do to get to the stadium. There was information available to help me decide what ticket I needed to buy but the machines were not set up to make finding that ticket an easy process so if you are planning a visit and you have not been before make sure you leave time to figure this out.

Once at the metro stop for the venue, signposts directed the way. However, determining the actual entrance way was a little tricker and the few available staff were more interested in barking instructions that trying to help the confused attendees.

There is a food court before you enter the main arena, I didn’t use this so I cannot comment expect to say that it looked busy.

There are food and drink stalls within the venue. You have to order at one counter, take a ticket and then go to a separate counter to collect the items. This was not clear and was causing confusion among many attendees. I ordered a chicken burger and a beer. I got a hot burger roll filled with ice cold breaded chicken (a new Italian delicacy perhaps?) and not very pleasant beer. I had been thinking that the prices were not too bad but having tasted the products I was definitely over charged.

I was seated in the upper bowl, second row. I had a great view of a metal barrier but not such a good view of the court. At a guess I would think that at least the first four rows would have had a similar issue. As there is no big screen, I missed many moments of the game simply because of the position of the barrier.

I completely understand the need for a safety barrier but some more thought needs to go in to planning a venue so that the barrier does not obstruct the view, if this cannot be avoided the tickets must come with a warning that there is very restricted view.

The stadium is old and this shows in the seats – most of them had lost their identifying number. The sections were not clearly marked, in fact at the bottom of each section was a number that was completely unrelated. This made I difficult for people to identify their seats and the few staff on hand did not seem interested in providing support to those who needed it.

We were some of the first people in and yet the floor was incredibly dirty and sticky, suggesting that it had not been cleaned for a long time.

At half time the queue for the toilets was so long it began to merge with the queues for food – yet more confusion.

I’ve travelled to venues in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Belgium and can easily say that this was the worst I have been to.

At the end of the game I headed to the metro station to discover that it would be 25 minutes before the next train. It did seem that I had just missed one as the platform was not that busy when I got there but at that time of night, and given that the game had been a sell out, the lack of trains was unacceptable. The platform was incredibly crowded by the time the train finally arrived and people were squeezing on. Contrasting this to events like Eurobasket, where they had a slick operation for getting everyone on public transport all I can say is that yet again Milan let itself down.