THE GELREDOME - A REVOLUTIONARY FOOTBALL STADIUM.by Patrick Watts in Holland.The undoubted success of the EURO 2000 Football Championships, which was staged jointly in Belgium and Holland, has brought re-newed Nederlands interest in watching domestic soccer.
Despite Holland's failure to reach the final, fans have responded to the high quality of football played in the Tournement, and this interest is particularly noticeable in the south-eastern city of Arnhem where the 'state of the art' Gelredome stadium hosted three EURO 2000 group matches. To some fans the selection of Arnhem, alongside Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam and ahead of Utrecht, was something of a surprise, but the Gelredome with its 30,000 capacity met all UEFA's requirements and more. Built in 1998 at a cost of 160 million guilders (US$64 millions) the revolutionary Gelredome boasts not only a sliding roof which can be closed when the weather turns bad, but also a retractable pitch which officials at Arnhem maintain is the first of its type in the world. The finance to build the new stadium was raised by contributions from a Foundation which was established by the Directors - from the Dutch Government - the Municipality - the Province of Gelderland and the Club itself.
The Gelredome also happens to be the home of 'Eredivisie" (Premier Division) club Vitesse Arnhem who just 15 years ago were languishing in the 2nd Division and attracting very little support. However a new Board of ambitious Directors took over and Vitesse have not looked back since, and can proudly point to having been placed in the top 6 of the 1st Division for the past 11 years. And during the last 2 seasons they have finished above the more famous and renowned former European Cup winners, Ajax of Amsterdam. Last season's 4th place finish was not quite enough to gain entry into the Champions League competition, but it did ensure a place in the UEFA Cup.
The Gelredome is unique in its original and modern design. After a game has been completed the 110 meters long, 70 meters wide and 1.4 meters deep retractable playing pitch is towed in its entirety from the stadium, out under the south stand, to a position where it is exposed to the elements, while the sliding roof of the stadium is closed so ensuring total security from inclement weather for those who may be inside. As Public Relations Officer Frank Huizinga pointed out, "The stadium is multi-functional and we can use it for pop concerts, exhibtions and ot