The Vitality Stadium had 3 stands in 2003 when I first visited but with the addition of the new Ted MacDougall stand the stadium now looks almost complete. The new stand does have a number of pillars across the front of it so hopefully this will be improved in the near future. The remaining three stands were all built in 2001 over the course of approximated 4 months.
Visiting supporters are housed in the far right of the East Stand where up to 2,000 supporters can be accommodated. The area is all ticket for every game with fans needing to either get a ticket before they travel or buy a ticket from the Ticket Office located all the way around the ground in the Main Stand. It is a crazy system we know and hopefully the club will be reviewing it soon to make it easier. But in the meantime allow plenty of time before the game to buy a ticket.
Vitality Stadium seating plan:
For fans walking from the main station in Bournemouth, there are a number of pubs ideally situated on the main road (Holdenhurst Rd) that leads to the ground. If you've parked your car in the council car park in Kings Park, simply walk out of the park (the way you came in) and turn left.
The Portman Hotel is another popular haunt for Cherries fans and away supporters alike. The pub has a lot of connections with the club - in 1910 the football team used to use the back room of the pub as their dressing room! Today, the pub has been used as a venue for supporters' meetings and there is a fair bit of AFCB related memorabilia on the walls.
Parking is freely available with 600 spaces on site in Kings Park. It is a council car park however and is pay and display at all times, although prices are very reasonable and parking tickets are very common so it's a small price to pay.
Alternatively, there is a limited amount of street parking spaces within a 10-15 minute walk of the stadium. In my opinion however, it's not worth the extra walk as it rarely takes any time to exit the car park at the ground after the game.
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The nearest / closest train station to Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium is at Pokesdown although not all trains stop there. Bournemouth Central Station itself is only a mile further away and a twenty minute walk from the ground.
As you come out of Pokesdown station, turn right and walk up towards Boscombe. Take a right into Gloucester Road (3rd on your right) and follow the street until it leads you into Kings Park. You should be able see the ground from there.
Rivals - Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton
Travel: I took a train from Durham to London Kings Cross which was a breeze. But the notorious South West Rail journey from Waterloo to Bournemouth took a lot longer than planned as our train was cancelled after arriving into Southampton, so we were forced onto a different train running at a reduced speed with extra stops.
Refreshments: After our delays, we headed to Mello Mello Bar in Boscombe for a quick one pre-match. The pub was fairly subdued and a little on the neglected side but it did the trick before our 10 minute walk to the ground. The home fans after the game were very friendly and had a little bit of a chat with one that agreed the result was fair and was good to see Matt Ritchie getting a goal, probably a rare comment from oppositions supporters!
Impressions: Of course, it's the smallest ground in the division by far and this is obvious when you cross the park towards the away turnstiles. It's a good little ground with a bit about it, being directly opposite the first team training complex, which I thought added character. Our away allocation was right next to the press seats and TV cameras which was a unique situation.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere from both sets of fans was quite quiet throughout. This possibly due to a dull first half and fairly nasty weather conditions thanks to storm Gareth. I ended up missing our opening goal at 45 +5 to go down for a half time pint, which was a Fosters costing £3.50, possibly the cheapest pint in the Premier League? The second half heard a bit of noise from the home fans after their two goals saw them going into second half injury time 2-1 up. Fortunately for us Matt Ritchie came back to haunt his old club by netting an equaliser with the last kick of the game sending the away section into raptures. The stewards apprehended a number of fans that spilled over the advertising boards and the police made 7 subsequent arrests, possibly a bit harsh given that nobody seemed to encroach onto the pitch or attempt to do anything other than celebrate in between the 200 fans squashing behind them and the 2-foot high advert boards. Nonetheless, this late goal made our long trip worth it.
Exit: The traffic around the ground and Bournemouth town centre was quite bad, so we jumped on a bus to Bournemouth Square for a post-match beer, then to a fantastic Chinese restaurant in the town named Mandarin Fusion before continuing our night among the many bars around that part of town.
Enjoy: A good ground with pleasant fans and a great little town to suit all the needs of eating and drinking. In future would probably drive instead of putting faith in trains as this seemed too stressful to be worthwhile.
Ground Name: Vitality Stadium
Capacity: 11,329 (all seated)
Address: Dean Court, Kings Park, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH7 7AF
Main Tel No.: 0844 576 1910
Team Nickname: The Cherries
Year Ground Opened: 1910
Online Shop: AFCB Photos