SC Heerenveen - The Abe Lenstra Stadium - Capacity: 26,800 All seater
The Stadium – The Abe Lenstra Stadium Huismanstraat 5, Heerenveen The Abe Lenstra stadium was named after the Dutch international player from the 1950’s who started his career with the club, and died in 1985. He would not have recognised the stadium at all as it stands today as the club has almost completed the remarkable redevelopment of the ground into a 28,000 seater multi-purpose arena. It is very similar to a number of British stadiums such as Leicester’s Walkers Stadium, Southampton’s St Mary’s and more recently the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Three of the four stands have now been finished, with just one end still in its original format. The remaining stands are two-tiered in design, although it is difficult to see this in principal as the seats seem to rise up as one. Views are excellent, and the stadium has a mighty impressive sound system.
The stadium on this site was opened on the 20th August 1996 by Prince Willem Alexander at the game versus PSV Eindhoven. At the time the capacity was only 14,400. The redeveloped stadium as we can see it today opened with a local derby against Groningen in 2004. When the ground is completed it will feature a swimming pool, sports centre and a conference centre.
It is due for completion in 2008. The first stadium was built in 1928 with a capacity of around 5,000. It was redeveloped in 1937, and 1949 before finally being updated in 1970 to accommodate 14,000 people in three uncovered stands basic stands, plus a covered main stand. The stadium has been chosen to be one of the four venues to be used in the 2007 U21 European Championships when it will host games games between Belgium, Israel and the Netherlands as well as semi-final.
Who Plays There? - FC Heerenveen - http://www.sc-heerenveen.nl As with most clubs in the Dutch leagues apart from the big three, SC Heerenveen’s achievements have been modest to say the least. However, they do have a better European record over the past decade than any other club outside PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord and continue to make impressive strides in their youth development programme that has seen such stars as Ruud van Nistelrooy and Klaas Jan Huntelaar come through the ranks in recent years.
The club were formed in 1920, and soon became a standard within the region of Friesland – a fact still seen today that the club has a stadium which could hold the whole population of the town. Before all of the home games, the Frisian anthem is played, and the team continue to wear the red hearts of the region on their shirts with pride.
The club have never won a major honour. They finished runners up in the Dutch cup in 1993 to Ajax after a 6-2 defeat, and in 1997 they were favourites to beat Roda JC but lost 4-2. However, their greatest feat was the 1999-2000 Eredivisie season when they finished runners up to PSV Eindhoven. This runner up spot gave the club an opportunity to enter the Champions League for the only time. In a group consisting of Valencia, Lyon and Olympiakos they never really looked like making the second stage after defeats in their first three games. However, they did restore some pride with a home win against Olympiakos and a hard fought draw away in Valencia.
They first appeared in Europe in the Intertoto Cup in 1995 when they reached the quarter finals, losing eventually to Bordeaux. The following two years they appeared in the tournament again without any success. However, they did come to the nation’s attention in 1999 when they drew West Ham in the second round of the Intertoto Cup. They lost the tie 2-0, after single goal defeats in both legs – although they certainly proved they could compete at a higher level.
In 2004 they qualified for the UEFA Cup group stages where wins against Beveren and Stuttgart ensured that they qualified for the knock out stages. Unfortunately, two 2-1 reverses against Newcastle United saw their participation in the cup come to an end. However, last season they were back again with a vital win over Levski Sofia in the final group match enough to see them through to the knock out phase again. Unfortunately this proved a bridge too far again as they went of 3-2 on aggregate to Steaua Bucharest.
This season it is much of the same as they have again made the group stages. However, the luck wasn’t with them when the draw was made as they were pitted against Parma, Lens, Osasuna and OB of Denmark. With one game left in the group, they are all but out after gaining just one point from their games so far – a 0-0 draw away to Osasuna in Spain. The current squad is a mixture of nations including Canadian internationals Will Johnson and Rob Friend, a few Danish players as well as a token Brazilian Afonso Alves. As at the end of December, the team were sitting in 7th place, just behind their local rivals Groningen.
How to get to the Abe Lenstra Stadium The stadium is located close to the town centre, alongside the A32 motorway. It is best reached by foot from the centre, following Heideburen eastwards then turning right into Stadionweg before you reach the motorway interchange. The stadium has plenty of car parking if you are coming by car. If you are coming by train then you can get a taxi (approx €5) or walk. Come out of the station into Stationsstraat and then turning right into Herenwal. Then follow the directions above. The walk should take no more than 10 minutes. Buses 10 and 15 run this route as well on a regular basis.
For a graphical view of where the stadium, and indeed the town of Heerenveen is in relation to the other clubs, go to Footiemap.com to access their Netherlands page.
How to get a ticket for the Abe Lenstra Stadium Despite having only 28,000 inhabitants, many games as the modest stadium are sold out. Tickets are sold by the club via the club shop to personal callers, or via email at email@example.com. Alternatively call them on +31 513 612100. Tickets go on sales around two weeks before each game and range in price from €15 in the Hoektribunes (corners) to €20 for the main stand (Oosttribune). As with all other Dutch clubs, you will need to be a member to buy a ticket for any matches. Contact the club on the number above to find out what you need to bring to the stadium to get one of these cards. You can also try agencies such as http://www.worldticketshop.com who sell seats for normal league games fro around €45 without the need to buy a Club Card. The club also run daily tours of the new stadium, including a visit to the museum for €5. Booking in advance is essential.
Around the Abe Lenstra Stadium The stadium is located on the fringes of the town and so there is very little around the stadium in terms of food and drink options. Stick to the town centre before you make your way to the stadium.
The regions only airport is a small affair which is now served on a daily basis from the UK. It used to be a route on the Ryanair map, though this route was scrapped in early 2005. Today, there are no direct flights from England, although VLM fly to and from London City via Amsterdam once a day. There is a daily flight to and from Aberdeen operated by BMI as well. The airport is located 15km south of the town centre, close to the A28 motorway. Bus 52 travels twice an hour to Groningen central station. If you are travelling onto Heerenveen, catch one of the regular trains with a change at Leeuwarden. The journey takes around 90 minutes – despite only being 35 miles away. From Amsterdam, it is best to hire a car and drive the 90 miles or so to Groningen (65 miles to Heerenveen) which should take less than 1 ½ hours.