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scouting

Groundhopper's Guide to..... Pohang Steel Yard

Pohang Steel Yard is a legendary stadium in Korean football. Due to its size, it wasn't selected to host matches at the 2002 World Cup despite opening a decade before the tournament. Fans sit just four meters from the field, making this one of the most compact grounds in the entire country. Here's our short guide to the Steel Yard.



Supporters gather outside the North Stand before the East Coast derby against Ulsan Hyundai. (Image: all photos from instagram.com/groundhopping_korea)
Before the Steel Yard opened in 1990, Pohang Steelers used Pohang Stadium, a multi-use arena catering for football and athletics, closer to the city center. The Steel Yard would become the first football-specific stadium in Korea, as the trend began to shift away from the bowl-shaped civic stadiums. Today, the Steel Yard is the second oldest in K League 1 and has a reputation for being the most enjoyable.

The Steel Yard is a symmetrical, double-tiered stadium with two screens at both ends and an array of interesting features both inside and outside. The last half-dozen rows in the lower tier have a good view of the pitch, but the overhanging tier makes it difficult to see the entire stadium. At the top of the four stands, there is a gap between the wall and the roof, allowing tree branches to encroach into the stadium.

Football fans yearning for a more traditional venue to watch a game will surely love this stadium. There is no running track, security moat, or temporary seats. The distance between the players and the fans is remarkably short and this really enhances the atmosphere, especially during a big match. Steel Yard's capacity is just shy of 18,000.


Location:

With a population of 500,000, Pohang is a coastal city and the largest in North Gyeongsang Province. The larger cities of Daegu, Ulsan, and Busan are all within 100 km of Pohang. It is the headquarters of POSCO, Korea's largest steel manufacturer, and the POSCO plants dominate the southern portion of the city.

The Steel Yard is located in this industrial zone to the south, hidden on all four sides by trees. It is not an area one would typically associate with a football stadium. Often, supporters going to or from the stadium have to wait for slow-moving cargo trains to depart the POSCO plants en route to Goedong Station.

 

Transport Options:

- train: Pohang doesn't have a subway system. Pohang Station is 12 km north of the stadium and bus #305, for example, will travel to the Steel Yard via downtown Pohang in approximately 60 minutes.
- bus: There are several buses from downtown to the stadium, such as the 208, 305, and 308, but these buses are packed after a game. Sometimes you're better off just walking. The stadium is 30 mins from the POSCO Bridge and the sights around the ground are so unique that walking over the Hyeongsan River should be seriously considered.

Tickets:

- Online: Steelers tickets are available from Ticketlink.
- Ticket booth: There are ticket booths behind the North and South stands. The quieter area is, undoubtedly, on the south end where the away fans watch the game. However, the zone behind the North Stand is the place to go and soak up the pre-game atmosphere.

Tickets can be purchased on-site, behind the North and South Stands.

Where to sit:

The North Stand, behind the goals, is a lively place to watch a game. This is where the main home supporters' clubs are based, in the rather extensive safe-standing section. As in all four stands, the upper tier is steep but at the back, there is space to stand and wander. Tickets for the north end cost ₩14,000.

The North Stand, where most of the chanting and songs originate from. 
The East Stand is, in my opinion, the best place to watch a game at the Steel Yard. There's a good view of the home and away fans, both screens and if you're seated near the front of the lower tier, you're as close to the field as anywhere else in Korea. The back 6 rows of the lower tier have a slightly obstructed view due to the overhanging blocks above. Tickets in the East Stand are ₩14,000.

The claustrophobic overhanging upper tier is reminiscent of a proper old-school football stadium. 
Away fans occupy up to six blocks in the southwest corner. Sometimes there is a huge military presence in the southeast corner, which is always an interesting sight. Tickets cost ₩14,000.

The yellow and blue-clad away fans went home happy, after a hard-fought 1-0 win. 
The West Stand is the main stand with media boxes, VIP seats, and tables. Tickets are, naturally, more expensive here, and start at ₩17,000.

The Main Stand at the Steel Yard comes with tables and more expensive seats.

Food:

The K League has a good food truck culture and these can be found outside the North Stand. On match day, this area is hopping as the Pohang ultras will go through their repertoire of songs, whilst other fans visit the club store, or eat at the food trucks. 

Drink:

Beer is sold inside the stadium but, as in most grounds in Korea, the staff will insist you pour it into paper cups before taking your seat.

Merchandise:

The small store behind the North Stand is ill-equipped to serve large numbers of fans before a big match. Staff will ask supporters to enter a phone number and they can enter when their number is called, similar to a popular restaurant. It isn't ideal.

Post game:

The Space Walk closes during high winds. Even on a calm day, it was extremely scary.
Pohang is by the coast so there are plenty of beaches in the city. The Space Walk is a fun experience if you're not afraid of heights. Yeongildae Beach, 1 km south of the Space Walk, has plenty of bars, restaurants, and breweries. However, most tourist sites will point you toward Homigot Sunrise Plaza.


Finally, if you are planning to visit this stadium or any others in Korea, and haven't already done so, please download the Futbology app. It is a great way to find information about stadiums and keep track of all the teams and grounds you have visited.

FNR

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