13 years after Falmer was identified as a potential site for the new home of the Seagulls, the dream became reality as the Seagulls moved into the American Express Stadium in 2011. The stadium is a classy looking structure. You notice very quickly that the club have gone to great lengths to avoid designing a soulless bowl. The 3 tier main stand is very impressive and has a line of executive boxes across the second tier. The north and south stands behind the goals are similar in that they are single tier affairs. The east stand has had a second tier added but the gradient remains very good making for an excellent view from all over the stadium.
Away fans will be housed in the south east corner of the stadium where approximately 3,300 fans can be accommodated. The views from within these sections are fantastic and the leg room is ample as would be expected for a new build. One thing you may not expect but will find as a bonus is the padded seats!
American Express Stadium seating plan:
There are a number of pubs in the close vicinity. Recommended by Sussex University students is The Hikers Rest (BN1 9GD) which has sky sports and a lovely garden to sit out in with pre match drink and is only approximately half a mile away. A little further afield is The Swan Inn (BN1 9PD) which is a more traditional pub. Also has Sky Sports on tv's around the pub but there's a very relaxed feeling about the place. I guess that may disappear once 1200 away fans set upon it on a Saturday afternoon though! A more popular option tends to be to head in to Brighton for pre game drinks and simply use the free travel from your match ticket to get the train along closer to kick off.
Bridge car park, has the capacity to accommodate up to 650 cars. However, it will fill up quickly and will be around £10 per car so get there early or more preferably book in advance through the club. Parking elsewhere in the local vicinity is very hard to come by. An option is to use the Albion park and ride service from Brighton racecourse.
Another thing to remember is that included in your matchday ticket is a travel voucher which allows fans to ride the buses and trains throughout most of Sussex on a match day. The most popular option being visiting fans going in to Brighton pre match, and then get the train to the stadium. It's all very well organised now and plenty of fans who don't live close to a railway opt to park in outlying areas (Lewes, Haywards Heath, Shoreham, Worthing etc) and use the public transport to the ground.
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Falmer railway is the station for the University of Sussex and is the closest / nearest station to Brighton & Hove Albion's American Express Stadium and is only a stones throw away. Trains run every 15 minutes from London Victoria and the journey time is approximately 75 minutes.
Rivals - Crawley Town, Gillingham, Crystal Palace
Travel: I travelled by car from Berkshire. I chose the Park & Ride 1, which was just off the A23. The journey itself was easy...M4-M25-M23-A23...and even with the speed restrictions on the M23 due to the roadworks, it took just over an hour to get to the Park & Ride. I parked the car, got on a bus, and 15 minutes later it deposited all it's passengers about 75 yards or so from the stadium. I liked the idea that included in the ticket price of £30 is free to use of the Park & Rides as well as free travel on the trains from Haywards Heath. Worthing, Eastbourne and Seaford and also local buses.
Refreshments: Outside the stadium were stalls selling burgers, fish & chips, sausages & chips, etc, hot & cold drinks and beer. The locals seemed friendly enough, and home and away fans mingled with no sign of any trouble.
Impressions: The stadium, being very new, is very impressive. I was in the back of the South Stand not from the away fans. The seats were cushioned and there was plenty of legroom. The stand has a single tier of seating, and the sight lines were great. I had a totally unobscured view of the pitch. Opposite is the North Stand, another single tiered stand where the more vocal of the home fans congregated. The West Stand, to the left of me, was a three-tiered affair. The middle tier was smaller than the tiers above and below it, and it had the posh boxes at the back. To my right, the East Stand was a two-tiered stand. The top tiers of both the West and East Stands were curved, and the roof at the sides curved with them.
Atmosphere: Getting into the stadium was not was I used to. Instead of squeezing through a narrow turnstile the gates were like those on the underground. My ticket was scanned and the low-level gate allowed me to enter the stadium. The concourse was very crowded, and it was hard to get from one end to the other because of the queues for the food and beer counters. I was impressed with the number and also the standard of the gent's. The stewards were friendly and helpful. The Cardiff fans made a right old racket from the start which drowned out most of the singing of the home fans. The home fans around me were still smarting from seeing their team on a losing run, and being battered 5-0 at their previous game, home to Bournemouth on the Saturday before and they seemed quite nervous. On the pitch Cardiff seemed to want it more and, apart from a couple of close Brighton chances early in the game, the away defence, with help from the "sweeper keeper" Etheridge, kept Brighton at bay. Cardiff took the lead with a long-range cracker from Mendez-Lang halfway through the first half, and the Cardiff fans went crazy. Cardiff got a second goal early in the second half, a header from an unmarked Morrison. Some home fans got quite angry and started to walk out with well over ten minutes remaining. Brighton made a late rally, with Murray skimming the bar with a shot and heading against the post a minute or so later. The game finished 2-0 to Cardiff. Brighton are now fourth from bottom of the Premier League, and with this win, Cardiff are now just two points behind Brighton. I think this relegation battle will go the wire!
Exit: Very easy. The buses back to the Park & Ride were close by, and even with the post-match traffic, it made good time to the Park & Ride. Within 20 minutes of the game ending, I was motoring back towards home on the A23.
Enjoy: I watched a good game of football in a very nice and modern stadium. The attendance was 30,226.
Ground Name: American Express Stadium
Capacity: 30,278 (all seated)
Address: Village Way, Falmer, East Sussex, BN1 9BL
Main Tel No.: 01273 878288
Team Nickname: The Seagulls
Year Ground Opened: 2011