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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK
City stadium ready for kick-off
Swansea stadium

Saturday brings a whole new ball game for football fans in Swansea as their side kick off at the new city stadium.

Safety rules mean capacity has been halved for the opening friendly against Fulham, but a 10,000 sell-out crowd will still pack into the 27m ground.

Singers Bonnie Tyler and Lisa Scott Lee will perform before kick-off and a good-luck message from Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones will be read out.

Swansea City will share the ground with the Ospreys rugby union team.

The stadium will mean a new routine for fans used to watching football at the Vetch.

Whereas the Swans' former ground was in easy walking distance of the city centre the new arena is out of town.

I'm hoping to keep the match day atmosphere alive by running a bus up each game for regulars
John Lewis, Clarence Inn

New transport plans have been drawn-up and, although Saturday's game coincides with a day-long bus strike by drivers at the Swansea depot, managers said many services would still run.

At the traditional drinking haunts around the Vetch, landlords expect it to be quieter than normal on a match day.

But John Lewis, who has run the Clarence Inn in the shadow of the East Stand for 10 years, believes many regulars will still call on the way to the game.

When the league season kicks-off against Tranmere Rovers on 6 August, he will be running a double-decker bus up to the new ground in Landore.

"When the Swans were at the Vetch we used to see 250 people in here on a match day," he said.

"I'm hoping to keep the match day atmosphere alive by running a bus up each game for regulars.

NEW STADIUM FACTS
Swansea stadium
The 20,000 all-seater arena was developed on the site of the old Morfa athletics stadium, built in 1980
The architects designed the Stadium of Light, Sunderland
The stadium includes 28 hospitality boxes, conference, banqueting facilities and 200 wheelchair spaces
The hi-tech pitch includes plastic 'grass' woven in with real grass to cope with up to 60 games a season
Work started at the end of 2003
It will be known as the New Stadium. There were hopes of a sponsor's name, while the working name 'White Rock' was dropped
"It will change Saturdays in this area."

But he had words of reassurance for pubs that now find themselves on the Swans' doorstep.

"I've been here 10 years and we have never had a spot of trouble. I'll miss the Swans playing here," he added.

Jackie Seward, who runs the Coopers Arms, one of the closest pubs to the new stadium, said she was looking forward to Saturday, but with slight trepidation.

"I hope it's going to be a good thing and bring more trade for the area - not just my pub but all the other pubs and businesses," she said.

"No-one knows how it is going to work out but it's a beautiful stadium, it's about time Swansea had something like it, and I hope it's going to be good for us."

Park and Ride

Fast food restaurants have already opened close to the new ground and it is understood at least two national pub chains have bought land close by.

The stadium itself has its own bars, food stalls and lounges and functions rooms - a far cry from the facilities at the Vetch.

South Wales Police said they would try and keep disruption to a minimum for people living near the stadium.

Inspector Bill John said the residents only parking scheme in the Landore, Pentrechwyth and Plasmarl areas would be rigorously enforced and urged people to use the Park and Ride bus service.

"Motorists who do not need to go near the stadium are asked to take alternative routes," he added.

Justin Thomas, managing director of bus operator First Cymru said that, despite the strike, the Park and Ride buses would be running as normal on Saturday.

But he said: "It is unfortunate that the union (Transport and General Workers) has chosen the first day that a match will be held at Swansea's new stadium to strike."

The match has sold out with the club advising supporters without tickets not to travel.

A stadium spokesman said: "This is a special game on three counts: Alan Curtis's testimonial match, a clash with a Premiership side managed by a son of Swansea (Chris Coleman), and of course, it's the first game at the Swans' new home".


SEE ALSO:
Curtis hails testimonial 'honour'
22 Jul 05 |  Swansea City
Crowd cut for first stadium game
04 Jul 05 |  South West Wales
Fans' farewell to hallowed Vetch
01 May 05 |  South West Wales
Countdown to stadium kick-off
28 Dec 04 |  South West Wales


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