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Stadiums of Seoul Capital Area, ranked!

Seoul metropolitan area is home to 25 million people and ten fully professional football clubs. Each club plays in its own unique and distinct ground so we undertake the difficult task of ranking the stadiums of Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi-do.

This month, Jurgen Klinsmann's Korea Republic will take on Peru at Busan's Asiad Stadium and, four days later, welcome El Salvador to Daejeon. It is rare for Seoul not to host at least one national team game. Certainly, it is a positive move by the KFA to spread games around the country. That both sold out almost immediately certainly vindicates that decision.

Those sell-outs, however, mean that for the fourth time since Klinsmann took over as boss, I have been unable to secure a ticket from the playkfa website. My Futbology account will be dormant again as the June friendlies necessitate a short two-week break for the top two divisions of domestic football.

With no games on the horizon, I have decided to rank the stadiums of Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi-do, sometimes referred to as Seoul Capital Area or Sudogwon, for the purposes of, well... absolutely nothing. But there is a great mixture in this region; from the old (Suwon Football Stadium) to the new (Incheon Football Stadium), the big (Seoul World Cup Stadium) to the small (Solteo Football Field), running track to no running track.

These are the ten Sudogwan clubs that currently play in K League 1 and 2 (I'd love to widen this sometime, to include all the leagues down to K7, but I haven't visited most of them yet) listed by position in their respective tables.  

K League 1: FC Seoul, Incheon United, Suwon FC, and Suwon Samsung Bluewings. 
K League 2: FC Anyang, Bucheon FC 1995, Gimpo FC, Seoul E-land, Seongnam FC, and Ansan Greeners.

Unfortunately, there'll be nothing scientific about this ranking and I'll be weighing heavily on entirely subjective feelings, like which stadium has more color or an aesthetically beautiful main stand, a good atmosphere, and shorter beer lines. However, I will also include some important facts related to location, transportation, and ticket prices.

In other words, what I believe a groundhopper is looking for in a K League stadium. Likely, there'll be plenty of disagreement so please share your own thoughts and opinions. Football is, as we all know, a great day out in Korea, and even the most unattractive of stadiums almost always guarantees a fun experience for fans or neutrals.

(PS, so I don't have to keep writing it, and I'm sure no one wants to keep reading it, all the images used are from my personal IG account. You can find me at groundhopping_korea)

10. Suwon Stadium

Suwon FC, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 11,808
Cheapest ticket: ₩15,000


The stadium: The football stadium, which forms part of a wider sports complex, opened way back in 1971.  As we're about to see, Suwon Stadium, like the majority on this list, has a running track, and stadiums with a track will suffer the consequences.

Pros: There is a crazy amount of space between rows in Suwon, so unless you're about 7 feet tall, there's enough leg room. The food trucks behind the temporary North Stand have some outdoor seating. Suwon FC's blue-red color scheme is nice and it looks good painted over the original structure. With an adjacent ballpark, there is a double-header possibility. In reality, I'm scratching around for positives.

Cons: It has a running track and even though the bowl-shaped stands are slightly elevated above the track, the presence of a track knocks off a mark. Suwon Stadium is 3 km from the nearest subway station (Hwaseo on Line 1) and the neighborhood around (for pre or post-game food) is nothing special. There is minimal roof coverage; a major problem in the Korean summer. Lines for beer and snacks are long, especially for a big game.

Overall score (out of 10): 5

9. Ansan Wa~ Stadium 

Ansan Greeners FC, Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 35,008
Cheapest ticket: ₩10,000


The stadium: Ansan Wa~ Stadium has one of the more unusual names in the country. It is a multi-use arena, meaning there's a running track. The stadium holds the rare distinction of having hosted international football and rugby games in Korea.

Pros: With a capacity of over 35,000, Wa~ Stadium looks like a proper stadium. The two long stands are double-tiered, semi-circular shaped with roof cover. The stadium is a very short walk from Gojan Station on Line 4 and about 25 mins on foot from Hosu-dong, a really busy area with an endless supply of food and drink.

Cons: The running track is bad enough but there isn't even any temporary seating to make the viewing experience better. Despite the track, the stadium is perfectly fine, but it is obviously far too big for the Greeners. The concession area is limited and their big-screen TV is basic.

Overall score (out of 10): 6

8. Anyang Stadium 

FC Anyang, Anyang-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 17,143
Cheapest ticket: ₩10,800


The stadium: Similar to Suwon, Anyang Stadium is city-owned and is located in a sports complex, featuring professional clubs in both ice hockey and basketball. The football stadium is nearly 40 years old and once hosted Anyang LG Cheetahs (now FC Seoul). 

Pros: The running track actually makes little difference, unless you're in the away end, as small, but effective, temporary stands were erected on three sides. Beomgye Station (Line 4) is a 30-minute walk and this is a great place to hang out post-game. There are double-header opportunities with hockey and basketball, especially early season.

Cons: Despite there being a small roof on the main stand, almost every seat is uncovered. The original stadium structure looks old and tired, and there's plenty of construction going on around the stadium. The convenience stores inside don't always open.

Overall score (out of 10): 6

7. Mokdong Stadium 

Seoul E-Land, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul. Capacity: 20,036
Cheapest ticket: ₩10,000


The stadium: This is Seoul E-Land's temporary home as renovation work continues at the (much) bigger Seoul Olympic Stadium. This ground would be a perfect fit and is not unfamiliar with hosting professional football. Situated on the banks of the Anyang River, it is a good stadium to cycle to.

Pros: As this is a temporary home, the efforts made to incorporate the club into the area through flags and wall signage have been impressive. The running track is an issue but the stands are raised, slightly minimizing the impact. There are great views of the Mokdong skyline from the East Stand and Omokgyo Station (Line 5) is only 15 minutes away. The convenience store is always open.

Cons: The absence of temporary seating is a problem that must be raised. Whilst there is some roof cover, the vast majority of the seats are exposed to the elements. And, despite being a very busy neighborhood, Mokdong isn't a particularly fun place to hang out. Overall, the stadium is fine but would be ideal if it were rectangular.

Overall score (out of 10): 6.5


6. Bucheon Stadium 

Bucheon FC 1995, Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 35,000
Cheapest ticket: ₩10,000


The stadium: Bucheon Stadium opened in 2001 but the paint and color have long since faded away. It once hosted a K League 1 team (now playing in Jeju) and the Korean national team even played a friendly match here versus Venezuela.

Pros: Like Ansan Wa~, this looks like a proper stadium and is similar to Anyang with enough seats in one of two temporary stands to accommodate most match-going supporters. Bucheon Stadium Station (Line 7) is next door. Inside the bowels of the original structure, there is a reasonably cool wall display documenting the club's history.

Cons: This stadium is not old but gives off the impression of a fatigued and worn-out structure. The concrete is cracking and the seats are covered in dust. Most of the concession areas inside the stadium are new but the shelves are empty. Even though there is a roof covering all four sides of the original structure, it offers no protection for the temporary stands.

Overall score (out of 10): 6.5

5. Tancheon Stadium 

Seongnam FC, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 16,867
Cheapest ticket: ₩10,000


The stadium: Tancheon is on the banks of a river by the same name. It is an oval-shaped stadium with three stands of equal size and a fourth stand that towers above the rest. This is another ground with a track but there is one temporary stand for the supporters' club.

Pros: Look no further than the giant electronic magpie behind the temporary stand which will sporadically rise above the home supporters. The view from the main stand, looking out over the river and Yatap, is pleasant. The stand itself is quite something (I can't work out if it is beautiful or an eyesore). Opposite that, there is a neat display on the walls of all Seongnam's trophies won. Only the temporary stand has no roof cover. Yatap is a great area to hang out in and for cyclists, it is one of the best stadiums to reach on two wheels.

Cons: If this stadium were turned into a football-specific stadium, but kept the same roof, it would be a great place to watch football. The away fans, especially, are really far from the field and there is no elevation to minimize that. 

Overall score (out of 10): 7

4. Solteo Football Field

Gimpo FC, Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 5,076
Cheapest ticket: ₩8,000


The stadium: From very humble beginnings, Solteo has developed into a 5000-seater with stands on three sides. The façade of the main stand is decorated with pictures of players and officials. There'll be many neutrals hoping this small but impressive club achieves the seemingly impossible and earns promotion to the top tier.

Pros: Solteo is the first stadium without a running track on this list. Even when civic stadiums are fitted with temporary seating, they are still far too big. Solteo's modest stadium is a perfect size. The green seating is classy as are the portraits on the walls of the main stand. There's a path behind the goals with no stand which takes you straight to the convenience store, and you can watch the game from there with a beer. Masan Station (Gimpo Gold Line) is 7 minutes away.

Cons: Unless you're living close enough to the stadium, Gimpo is off the beaten track. It represents a big commitment to see a game in Gimpo. Other than that, I don't really have anything else to add.

Overall score (out of 10): 8

3. Suwon World Cup Stadium 

Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Capacity: 42,542
Cheapest ticket: ₩15,000


The stadium: The first stadium on this list built for the 2002 World Cup is also the second in the city of Suwon. 'Big Bird', as it is also known, hosted four games at that year's World Cup, three in the 2001 Confederations Cup, and the Final of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Pros: I concede that this selection is based, mostly, on subjective reasons. Aesthetically, it is one of the country's most pleasing stadiums. Unlike the Seoul equivalent, Big Bird has a lot of colors, and, ironically, the Bluewings' appalling season allows supporters to marvel at the empty, colorful seats. The roof over the main stand is a wonderful piece of architecture. The concrete blocks behind both goals, which take fans to the upper tier, are supposed to represent the towers at the local Hwaseong Fortress. Another good feature of this stadium is you can buy beer at a store which has some views of the pitch, so you won't miss the action.

Cons: Suwon World Cup is far too big for Suwon Samsung Bluewings and even if they did chop off the upper tiers, that would likely deprive us of the magnificent wing-shaped roof on the main stand. Whilst the nearest subway station is only 25 minutes away (Gwanggyojungang on the Shin Bundang Line), the city's main intercity station, Suwon Station, is over an hour away on foot. Getting anywhere after a game here is difficult even with a small crowd.

Overall score (out of 10): 8

2. Seoul World Cup Stadium 

FC Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Capacity: 66,704
Cheapest ticket: ₩16,000


The stadium: Sangam, as it is also known, is, by far, the biggest in K League 1. It hosted the opening game and one semi-final at the 2002 World Cup, the Final of the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and the first leg of the 2013 AFC Champions League Final. Sangam is also the nominal home ground of the Korean national team.

Pros: A stadium that meets the requirements to host an opening game of the World Cup must be good. The location is superb, just a short cab ride from several university areas in Seoul. The stadium also has its own subway stop (Line 6) and the north bank of the Han River is walking distance away. There's plenty of space inside and outside the ground and the Fan Park area is a good place to soak up the pre-game atmosphere. I've sat everywhere in Seoul and there are no bad seats. The corner located Sky Pubs are brilliant.

Cons: In nine home games a total of 217,969 people have paid through the turnstiles, at an average of 24,218 per game. The stadium is simply too big for K League 1 and when the attendance is low, it has the feel of a warehouse. Arguably, that isn't helped by the mostly grey interior. Also, the concession stands in Seoul are irritatingly slow, especially for a big game. This is a quality stadium nonetheless.

Overall score (out of 10): 8.5

1. Incheon Football Stadium 

Incheon Football Stadium, Jung-gu, Incheon-si. Capacity: 18,989
Cheapest ticket: ₩12,000


The stadium: Incheon Football Stadium will, likely, top most fans' list for the best stadium in Korea, not just the capital area. Opened in 2012, the rectangular stadium hosted matches at the 2014 Asian Games and 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. This August, it will stage an AFC Champions League game for the first time.

Pros: Brilliantly located just yards from Dowon Stadion (Line 1), Incheon Stadium is one stop from an express subway station and just two from Chinatown. The cheapest tickets are half-way line upper tier seats which represent great value. The sweeping South Stand, where the main supporters' club goes, is reminiscent of new football stadiums in Europe. And, finally, in the East Stand, convenience stores and a bar overlook the pitch. You can buy beer without missing any action.

Cons: I can only think of three small issues. Away fans are in the only uncovered stand, and with the harsh summers nearly upon us, it'll make for unconformable viewing. The only beer on sale is Heineken and the big-screen TV is not easily visible from the East Stand.

Overall score (out of 10): 9.5

FNR




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