As Scotland faced Ireland on Friday night and await the visit of England to Celtic Park, the national stadium at Hampden sits silent and empty. Glasgow’s successful hosting of the Commonwealth games means Scotland are playing home games elsewhere until 2015. But is Hampden missed?
The national stadium has long been an unpopular venue. Many fans feel the atmosphere is compromised by the gradual inclination of the stands and the distance from the playing surface. Views of the action are often poor. Long queues at turnstiles, toilets and eateries have also been criticised as has the position and infrastructure surrounding the stadium.
Supporters feel it is difficult and time consuming to get to Hampden from the centre of Glasgow, perhaps a strange complaint given how well the ground is served by train stations and bus routes but there is a lack of parking available as well as restaurants and pubs around the ground.
There is little doubt that restricted view seats aside, Ibrox and Celtic Park are far better venues to watch football in and help create better atmospheres.
In truth Hampden is a far better athletics venue than football arena. However, the lack of interest in track and field and dearth of large meetings means a 44000 capacity arena is redundant.
Supporters of the national stadium point to the history of Hampden and having major events there makes them more special. There were murmurs that last season’s Scottish Cup final between St Johnstone and Dundee United lacked a spark because it was not held at the national stadium. However most of these moans were from those of a tangerine persuasion.
In football results dictate everything. Most neutrals viewed it as a cracking cup final and event and St Johnstone fans certainly seemed perfectly happy.
The necessity of Hampden is also up for debate. In Scotland’s central belt there are five stadiums which have hosted football matches successfully with capacities of over twenty thousand within sixty miles of each other. A country of Scotland’s size and resources does not need this, especially when Hampden’s most recent development cost over £59 million in the late 1990s.
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