Sunday, 19 August 2007

Stadiums I have been to: Santa Laura

Over recent years since I started watching Melbourne Victory I have come to appreciate watching the game of football live and a big part of that being the stadium in which the game is being watched. I have been to a few stadiums in Australia and South America so I have decided to write some thoughts about them with the first one being Santa Laura.

Santa Laura, is the home ground of Union Española in Santiago, Chile. I paid a visit to this stadium on a cold autumn night in March 2006 during a trip to South America. On this night Union Española were playing Universidad de Concepcion in a Chilean football league match and up until this time were struggling to pick up a win. Santa Laura, is the oldest stadium in Chile, being constructed in 1922 and it is certainly starting to show its age. There is a main stand that houses the dressing rooms and all the associated rooms for officials. The remaining three stands are made up of timber seats that sit on a steel framework. Both the timber and plastics seats are in a combination of black, yellow, white and red that makes up a distinctive pattern and gives the impression of a large mural, that was quite evident on the night in question due to the lack of supporters. I’m not exactly sure of the stadium’s capacity but I think it is around 20,000. In order to get our seats that were located in one of the stands you had to walk underneath the stand through steel framework that held it up. It was like walking through a forest of steelwork. Once seated in the stand you wouldn’t have wanted to drop anything as a trip back down the steps to the ground below would have been the result. Barely 2000 people had turned out for the game and we managed to get a park pretty much right outside the front gate. There wasn’t too much atmosphere for the game due to the small number of fans, but the supporters behind the goals were in full voice. I was glad that they decided not to let off a flare when the only goal for the game went in because the stands might have gone up in smoke as well. Although I am sure many a flare has been set off in this stadium without any problems. There was a small smattering of away supporters in their own section of the ground that it is fenced off the home supporters, as is the tradition at all South American football stadiums. After seeing this game, I decided to follow the fortunes of Union Española. Santa Laura, is a distinctly old fashioned stadium, one that doesn’t exist much any more.Santa Laura, is a distinctly old fashioned stadium, one that doesn’t exist much any more and may not for much longer. For a number of years now there has been talk of Union Española replacing Santa Laura with a new stadium but the main sticking point is lack of finances within the club to undertake the project. So it looks like for the time being that Santa Laura will continue to be the oldest stadium in Chile.


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