The Stadium of Light is a newish build and as such is typical in its 'bowl' construction. However, it is different from many newly built stadia because of its scale, with a second tier looping round half the stadium contributing to the 49,000 capacity. Away fans are situated behind the goal in the South Stand and have excellent views as you would get from any area in the stadium. On the exterior you'll find many things to see and take photos of including a statue of 1973 FA Cup Final winning manager Bob Stokoe.
Approximately 3,000 visiting supporters can be catered for at the SOL and they're situated in the upper tier of the North Stand behind one of the goals. The view of the action is fantastic from all seats and leg room is also very spacious. Facilities and refreshments are good with pies, burgers and hot dogs setting you back around £3.50. Alcohol is also available in the away end at around £3.50 per pint.
Stadium Of Light seating plan:
With the ground being fairly close to the city centre there's the usual mix of pubs, cafes, chain stores and burger vans. Although once you're right next to the stadium itself it'll be burgers only. The White Rooms on Holmeside is often the semi-official away pub. As ever though, check with the local police on the day.
In the city though there are plenty of options, whether you want to gorge on Greggs, or have a few beers. For the latter, try Green Terrace, which has a canny few bars - as they say - including Fitzgeralds for those who like a real ale or two. It's about 20 minutes walk from the ground.
Parking in the immediate vicinity of the stadium is quite difficult although there is a large car park at the stadium that is generally reserved for permit holders. However, the club operate a free park and ride service with buses running every five minutes, from 90 minutes before kick off. You can also park in the town centre and walk back 10-15 minutes to the stadium. Whichever option you choose, allow plenty of time as there's always a lot of traffic on match days.
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The nearest / closest train station to Sunderland's Stadium Of Light is Sunderland. Trains run from Newcastle's mainline Central Station on the half hour and take around 20 minutes to get to Sunderland's rail station, which is a 10-15 minute walk from the Stadium of Light.
Trains also run from Middlesbrough to Sunderland, again on the half hour, and take around an hour to get to Sunderland.
Rivals - Newcastle, Middlesboro
Travel: A long car journey from Portsmouth but a 5am departure evaded any traffic build-ups and we arrived in Sunderland at 10.30am. It was easy to park in the Roker Beach seafront area near our booked accommodation.
Refreshments: A good pub crawl taking in the Harbour View, Albion and Wheatsheaf pubs. All away friendly and good banter with the locals. Had a stottie (local name for a large bread roll) on the way to the ground so was an enjoyable time pre-match.
Impressions: I have been to Stadium of Light on a previous occasion but the away fans were located in a different part of the ground on this occasion so we had some difficulty in locating the correct turnstiles.
Atmosphere: It was a tense game but a good atmosphere, though there were some problems when a smoke bomb was thrown from the away section onto home supporters below. The away section is too far from the pitch and should not be located above home supporters. The game ended 1-1. No problem getting away from the ground as stayed in Sunderland on the Saturday evening.
Enjoy: A good day out in a place with similarities to Portsmouth as both sets of supporters are loyal and like a matchday drink in the pubs.
Ground Name: Stadium Of Light
Capacity: 49,000 (all seated)
Address: Stadium Of Light, Sunderland, SR5 1SU
Main Tel No.: 0871 911 1200
Team Nickname: The Black Cats
Year Ground Opened: 1997
Online Shop: store.tothe92.co.uk/sunderland