Monday, 27 February 2012

Match day experience at Manchester City

City fans have become very accustomed to the words "match day experience" Indeed the club on a regular basis get fans to do online questionnaires about their experiences whilst visiting the Etihad Stadium.  These have been used to introduce various facilities and features.  Since Shiekh Mansour bought the club the changes have been swift making the Stadium a much better place to go and have a day out, instead of just turning up seeing the game and leaving.

It first started with the changes to the North Stand which became the Family Stand. It's the end where my seasoncard is along with my two sons.  I got my first taste of it when City played Valencia in a pre season friendly and was impressed the whilst well lit plain lobby area had been transformed.  There were player height charts so the kids could see how big they were along side their heroes, as well as a kids food bar and sweet shop.

There was also face painters and during the season various forms of entertainment ranging from a robot chasing the kids around to pantomime dames.  Balloon animals were also popular seeing the speed those guys could make them really is a sight to behold and of course it gets your child's attention as they watch every twist and knot.  For me the best entertainment was a magician that came up to us and started performing he was brilliant and given chance I'm sure Connor would have stayed there all evening but there was a game to watch.

Then along came CitySquare now from what I know this is a fairly unique part of the Stadium Complex comprising of 3 large screens a stage a bar and cafe area.  Summerbee and Star Bar are the main meeting points for a lot of blues alongside Bluemoon Cafe on the other side of the CityStore.  Pre kick off there is usually things for kids to do be it being a keeper in the huge blow up goals as demonstrated by Lucas! or shooting through a giant picture of Joe Hart, to having your shot speed measured. On stage "Fanzone" Danny, Natalie Pike and Hugh Ferris interview various former players and celeb blues fans and stage competitions for upgraded tickets.  As well as this there have been "battle of the bands" etc...  It's all designed to make fans get there early have a beer or food and then not have to worry about rushing to get to the stadium and it's working normally CitySquare is packed an hour before kick off.  The bars are also open after the match so you can have a drink and a bite to eat whilst letting the traffic go and listen to a review of the 90 minutes.

This is where I do have a slight moan.  Things have ground to a halt in the family stand there is now no longer any entertainment there is rarely any face painters it seems the emphasis is purely on CitySquare.  If you go into the Stadium early you end up seeing whats going on on CitySquare on the big screens though the audio can be bad depending on the elements outside and in my opinion perhaps should be left for the people who are out there on the Square.  CitySquare is great but for me if you have younger children having things to do inside should still happen.  I have mentioned this in the last fan questionnaire I received so yes I am not just blogging without attempting to make my views clear to the club.

Things have changed The Etihad is a place to head to long before kick off and mix with fellow fans well before the game, things have been a bit trial and error as the club do strive to create a great "match day experience"  They are getting there and it made me change my habits that's for sure and I know other blues have said similar.

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