Allow me for a moment to take you back to 2002. My husband had been a soccer fan for five years at that time and was soooo excited about the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was being hosted by South Korea and Japan. Due to the time difference, he (and sometimes me too) would get up in the middle of the night to watch the U.S. National Team play. The team made it to the quarterfinals, their best finish yet at a World Cup.
So you imagine my husband’s delight when during our 2006 trip to Korea he saw a sign that read, Suwon World Cup Stadium. It was close to the hospital were our son was born, which we were about to visit. After an amazing visit at the hospital, our tour guide asked us if there was anything else we’d like to see in Suwon. Of course, my husband asked if we could go to the stadium. And our tour guide was happy to oblige.
The first amazing thing about this stadium is that the tour only cost 1000 won (about $1) each. Once inside we found a small museum, the World Cup Memorial Hall, dedicated to the World Cup games played there. After looking through those exhibits, we were escorted out the tunnel to the field. While we weren’t allowed on the grass (which is pretty common), it was really amazing to be standing by the field.
The second amazing thing about the stadium is the size of it. It has a capacity of 43,288, and my husband had seen it filled to capacity via TV coverage of the U.S. versus Portugal game (June 5, 2002), which by the way the U.S. won 3-2. In the U.S., our soccer-only stadiums have a capacity of about half that and might be sold out once a year.
The stadium is sometimes called The Big Bird because of its roof. The roof was inspired by how a bird looks in flight. When not filled to capacity, the seat form wonderful, colorful patterns around the stadium.
Our only disappointment with the experience was that we weren’t able to buy any Samung Suwon Bluewings souvenirs. The Bluewings are the K-League (professional) team that plays in the stadium. Apparently souvenirs are only sold on game day, which is Saturday, and we were there on Thursday. And, of course, we’d love to see a game in Suwon. We’re actually planning our next trip around being able to see a game.
If you want to check out more about the Suwon Stadium, you can visit their Web site at www.suwonworldcup.or.kr/english/index.asp.
Of course, I realize that some people may not venture out to Suwon. Well, you can enjoy a similar experience at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. You can learn more about the Seoul World Cup Stadium at the Korea Tourism site at www.knto.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=266926.