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UEFA Champions League finals stadiums ranked by fan experience

With just a few days left until the final of the 2023 Champions League, the excitement among sports fans is growing. All eyes will be on Atatürk Olympic Stadium which will host arguably the most important match of the season for both Manchester City and Inter. 18 years after the “Miracle of Istanbul”, Atatürk will be the UCL final venue again which encouraged SportingPedia to study the conditions it offers and compare them to those of Champions League finals stadiums from the last decade.

We drew up a fan experience stadium ranking based on six criteria – seating capacity, food & beverages price score, distance from city centre, parking facilities as well as public transport and airport options. As regards prices, we consulted the Numbeo cost-of-living data base, with information current as of June 5.

Ten points is the maximum for each study criterion, meaning 60 would be the perfect score.

The highest-scoring stadium featured in the study is Stade de France (51 points) followed by Estádio do Dragão (50 points). Interestingly, they are the second largest and the smallest stadium in our selection, which goes to show that seating capacity is an important but not crucial factor when it comes to top-notch fan experience. Atatürk Olympic Stadium and NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium are at the bottom of the ranking, mostly due to the considerable remoteness of airports and some public transport issues.

Champions League Finals Stadiums – from Best to Worst

Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France – 51 Points

The mythic Stade de France has hosted three UEFA Champions League finals so far – in 2000, 2006, and 2022. The latter was a last-minute relocation from the Gazprom Arena in response to the “escalation of the security situation in Europe” last year.

Stade de France was assigned the maximum possible 10 points for parking as it boasts three lots of its own, each with a booking option. The CDG and Orly airports are more than 20km away from the stadium, which is compensated by direct bus and train links. The food & beverages price score (71.5 as of May 25, 2023) is the only criterion where the stadium lags behind most of its competitors in the ranking.

Estádio do Dragão, Porto, Portugal – 50 Points

Estádio do Dragão holds the second position, with only 1 point difference, although the venue’s capacity is considerably smaller than the one of Stade de France (50,033 vs 81,338 seats). As the stadium is less than 4km away from the city centre, you do not have to worry about parking or public transport. If walking is not your thing, you can take the underground and get off right in front of the venue.

Estádio do Dragão hosted the 2021 UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City (1-0). Due to capacity constraints caused by COVID-19, the match was only attended by just over 14,000 fans.

Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal – 49 Points

In third place comes Estádio da Luz, where two UEFA Champions League finals have taken place. In 2014, the stadium was filled by nearly 61,000 people (64,642 seating capacity) but no fans watched Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint-Germain in 2020 due to anti-pandemic measures.

Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (the stadium’s official name) is located approximately 7km north of the city centre. The venue is perfectly covered by public transport with plenty of bus and underground stations within walking distance. If you want to eat in a pleasant setting, do so in central Lisbon. There are largely residential blocks and motorways surrounding the stadium, so the options for taking a walk and visiting restaurants are limited.

Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid, Spain – 48 Points

Being put into actual operation in 2017, the current home stadium of Atlético Madrid is the newest venue in our ranking. It hosted the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs (2 – 0) which was the first final match since 2013 not to feature a Spanish club team.

Wanda Metropolitano is located roughly 10 km from central Madrid, with several underground and bus options and no need to make any transfers. The stadium boasts a large parking lot, but keep in mind it gets very crowded, and going back home may turn out to be a tough task.

Unlike the old Vicente Calderon which was located in a lovely neighbourhood with plenty of cafes, shops, and restaurants, the Metropolitano Stadium is surrounded by a motorway on one side and apartment blocks on the other.

Wembley Stadium, London, England – 47 Points

With 90,000 seats, Wembley is the largest venue that has ever hosted a UEFA Champions League Final. Since its reopening in 2007, the stadium has welcomed Barcelona vs Manchester United (2011) and Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (2013). The showpiece game will return to London next year with the final being scheduled for June 1, 2024.

The only reason for Wembley not being in the Top 3 of our selection is that it is located in London, one of the most expensive cities in Europe (86.1 food & beverages price score or only 3 points). The venue compensates for its relative remoteness by being accessible from three railway stations, and is also well served by local buses.

Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany – 46 Points

The sixth place in the ranking is occupied by Olympiastadion, which hosted the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus (3 – 1). The stadium is part of Olympiapark Berlin, located in a green area full of beautiful gardens and lots of sports facilities.

The best way to reach the venue is using the underground, since the closest station is just 500m away. Trains run 24 hours on weekends, usually in 15-minute intervals at night. Parking around the stadium is free of charge, but is not a wise choice as post-event traffic tends to be very bad.

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales – 45 Points

Millennium Stadium, where the 2017 UEFA Champions League final was played, is the most easily accessible venue within our ranking as it is located at the very centre of Cardiff, just 300m away from the central railway station. Parking spaces at the stadium are severely limited and reserved for disabled visitors only.

There are plenty of hotels in close proximity to the sports venue, as well as numerous restaurants and pubs. However, the main reason for the stadium’s 7th position in the ranking is the food and beverages issue as prices are high, both at the sports complex and in Cardiff eateries.

San Siro, Milan, Italy – 44 Points

The thrilling 2016 UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid (5 – 3 after a penalty shoot-out) was held at the San Siro stadium and had nearly 72,000 spectators. This is the third largest final match attendance in the last decade, only behind the games at Wembley in 2013 and Stade de France in 2022 with 86.3K and 75K spectators, respectively.

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, which is located in the west of Milan, is well-served by public transport, the underground being the best option as stations are at a short walking distance from the venue. Fans have no reasons to complain about the lack of nearby restaurants and pubs, although prices are rather high.

Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey – 41 Points

After taking into account all criteria of the current study, we gave Atatürk Olympic Stadium, the host of the 2023 UEFA Champions League Final, a total of 41 points or 9th position in the ranking.

The venue is located 33km away from the IST Airport and 24km from the centre of Istanbul. Given the long distances and the need for multiple public transport transfers, it is best to take advantage of UEFA’s free Shuttle Bus service. Be prepared for at least a 1-hour trip in any direction.

There is not much around the stadium, so we advise you to do your eating in the city cenre. On the positive side, Istanbul is one of the most affordable cities when it comes to prices in shops and restaurants. Its food & beverages score is merely 32.5 compared to 86.1 (London) and 82.7 (Milan).

NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kyiv, Ukraine – 39 Points

NSC Olimpiyskiy is the home of FC Dynamo Kyiv and the national team of Ukraine. Since May 2020, Shakhtar Donetsk also uses the venue for its home matches since Donbass Arena is closed to the public.

The stadium hosted the 2018 UEFA Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3 – 1. Hours before the event, the local underground service received a bomb alarm which later proved to be a false alarm.

NSC Olimpiyskiy is situated in the centre of the Ukrainian capital, less than 2km from the central Independence Square (Maydan Nezalezhnosti). Although the location appears to be convenient, avoid going there by car as all adjacent streets are closed on match days.

“The fact that the Atatürk Olympic Stadium only comes in 9th place in our ranking should in no way discourage football fans from heading to Istanbul this June. The venue hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League final as well as the European club football kick-off draws in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons, so it has more than enough experience to handle the showpiece event this year. Just be prepared for long bus rides and do not carry coins in your pocket as they are not allowed at the stadium.”

– comments Noah Dale, analyst at SportingPedia.