Sunderland AFC

Sunderland AFC

Stadium Information

Stadium

Stadium of Light

Address

The Stadium of Light
Sunderland
SR5 1SU

Club / stadium contact for disabled supporters

Name

Maureen Johnson

Telephone no.

0871 911 1255

E-mail address

Website address

Disabled Supporters Association

Contact Name

Freda Oyston

Telephone no.

0191 384 7835

E-mail address

Website address

 

 

Accessibility Information

For UK minimum access standards for new and existing stadia and for good practice guidance please click here.

 

Getting There & Parking

 

Disabled parking for 160 home and 5 or 6 away supporters within stadium grounds and close to stadium  entrances.  Some spaces are available on a match by match basis. 80 spaces have wide access.

 

National Rail have published links to the nearest stations to sporting venues including Sunderland see here for more information.

 

Level Playing Field have not verified the information given and we suggest that you contact the station direct if you have any access requirements.

Getting a Ticket

 

Information on ticketing can be found on the Sunderland AFC website.

 

Tickets for disabled and & blind and partially sighted supporters can be purchased by contacting SAFC Ticket Office on  0871 911 1973 or disability@safc.com

Spectator Viewing areas

 

Home supporters have 154 spaces for wheelchair users available to them. 6 spaces for wheelchair users can be found in the away section for away supporters. All in elevated positions. The Away area is in the Strongbow Upper Stand with PA’s elevated behind. Pitchside positions give partial cover. Unlimited places for ambulant disabled supporters in designated corner areas of stadium.

 

NB: Under existing minimum standards for accessible stadia, the club should have 228 wheelchair spaces (194 home and up to 34 away). 75% of these should be elevated positions and the remaining 25% pitchside.

 

LPF's view is that many disabled supporters should be able to access general seating areas and only those with specific needs eg those who require extra legroom, or access via aisle seats or who need step free access etc should be allocated seats in the dedicated areas.

 

Based on the above, the club therefore only meets 70% of the guidance and has a shortfall of 68 wheelchair spaces. They should be working on a plan to rectify this deficit within a reasonable timeframe under the auspices of a full independent Access Audit.

Accessible amenities

 

23 accessible toilets, some on concourse directly behind platforms. 3 toilets next to lifts by South West corner ramp for use by wheelchair users at pitchside. Radar locks, alarms and warning lights are in operation. Refreshment facilities are available on concourse level, with low-level counters. Tray service is also available. Pitchside positions offer limited access to catering facilities at the mid-tier levels.

Accessible services & information

 

40 spaces for audio commentary located in in South West corner, all elevated and covered positions with PA seats alongside. 24 headsets provided free of charge allowing fans to listen to local radio commentary.

 

Updated July 2014

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Comments

J&J

Match: League Cup Round 2 - 27/08/13

Published: 6/9/2013

 

This was our first visit to the Stadium of Light as away wheelchair fans.

 

Access to the Ground

Heading from the South we needed to weave our way through what appeared to be the inner ring road but the Stadium was well signed throughout.   The route took us past two large supermarkets and the stadium was easily visible as we approached.  We travelled in a wheelchair accessible mini-bus, part of our Club’s official away travel, which was allowed to park right opposite our entrance to the stadium.   The entrance for away wheelchair fans is down the right hand side of the stadium.   It is in the building marked, “The Black Cat Bar”.   This entrance is more like a modern hotel lobby.   There is a large lift on the left as you enter, which takes you to Level 3.

 

Facilities in the Ground for Away Wheelchair Fans

Viewing Areas

There is no away end as such as the home fans occupy all 4 sides of the ground and the away fans (including the away wheelchair fans) are at one end behind the goal on the upper tier.   On leaving the lift at Level 3 you do a right and left turn through a carpeted (!) lobby area to get your first view of the inside of the stadium.  I noticed there was a refuge area marked on the right in this lobby.    As you go along the passage towards the stand, the wheelchair viewing platform is in front of you, slightly to the left, in the far left corner, right at the front of the upper tier.   The away fans area is behind above you and at the side of you.   Even with only just over 200 away fans we felt very much part of the away crowd which is very welcome as we are so often at some distance from them.   Our club was sent 6 wheelchair tickets and I guess that would be the maximum for the area (no marked spaces).   For our visit there were 3 of us in powerchairs with companions and that felt comfortable, although we had to do a bit of “come dancing” to allow each other to move in and out of the area.   There are drop-down companion seats at the back of the platform.  One of the companions with our group happily used them and the other two chose to stand and this was allowed.   With more wheelchair users the view from the companion seats might be more problematic.  

 

For us what made this platform unique was how high up the upper stand is and the subsequent view.  It is difficult to convey in words the sense of vastness that comes from being right at the front so high up in such a massive stadium, it has a real wow factor.   This is not the ground to go to if you have a fear of heights!    That said, I am not someone who would choose to look over the edges of bridges but I felt quite comfortable and safe looking out, not least I think because of the clear viewing panels at the front of the platform which for me made it feel very safe without detracting from the view.  At 5ft 4” (in a powerchair) my view was just over the top of them but it would be equally good if your view was through these panels. I had read in an old stadia guide that it was one of the most impressive in the country and we weren’t disappointed.

 

If there is a disadvantage to being so high up, it is that the pitch action is a long way away, with the players seeming like dots on green.  I also found it impossible to read the clock on the scoreboard facing me at the other end of the pitch. I managed to get a 3G signal but in daylight, as you are close to the stadium side and over-hanging roof, we found it difficult lighting to take photos.  

 

Refreshments

We didn’t sample the refreshments but our friends returned with the usual goodies and were very impressed by all the TVs in the refreshment area which I assumed was out near the lift and which I guess could get a bit congested if there were a lot of away fans in this area.

 

Accessible Toilets

There is a large accessible toilet in front of you as you exit the lift on Level 3 with a steward on hand to unlock it for you.   It was spotlessly clean.   It is a right hand transfer, with hot water, liquid soap and hand towels.   The only thing missing was a bin of any description. 

 

Headset Commentaries for Blind and Partially Sighted Fans

As my husband is severely sight impaired and watches games through a 1 cm spy glass he is always pleased when clubs provide a headset commentary to help him follow the ball.   Unlike with most Clubs we were unable to find any info about disabled fans on Sunderland’s web site, so I used the general enquiry email address to contact the club and got a prompt positive response, stating that a headset would be with the stewards for his use, which it was. It was in fact in an old style Walkman with a radio but my husband was unable to get any audible commentary for most of the game.  We have emailed the Club to advise them that my husband thought there might be a technical problem with the headset. Even though we were so far from the pitch, my husband said this distance, compared to other grounds where we were much nearer the pitch, did not adversely affect what he could see through his spy glass and as with us all, he just enjoyed the brilliant atmosphere and sense of occasion.  

 

Attitude of Club Officials

As soon as our mini-bus parked at the Stadium, a WPC came aboard and welcomed us to the Stadium, she then went on to say she was required to remind us that racist comments were not tolerated at the Stadium and offenders would be evicted.  In the 40 previous stadiums we have visited as away fans we had not had this welcome before and opinion was divided amongst us about it.   Perhaps mention that no abuse of any type would be tolerated would have been received better by a group who in their time have experienced abuse by home fans on the grounds of disability.

Stewards were immediately on hand to direct us where to go and continued to be at each point during our visit.    The Stewards we dealt with were friendly and welcoming without being over burdening, just as we would want them to be.  

 

 

 

After the Match

We were able to exit the stadium and get back onto our mini-bus without any problems.   The official away travel was given a police escort from the stadium so we were able to commence our 5-hour journey home without any delay, albeit the roads around the stadium did generally seem congested.  

 

Will We go Again?

Yes.  The experience was worth leaving home at 12.45 pm, getting home at 3.30 am and needing 2 days to recover from lack of sleep and such a long journey!

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Allan MacKillop

Match: View blocked by fans standing 28/10/2011

Published: 26/10/2012

 

 I’m a season ticket holder at Sunderland (North Stand). The facilities are fairly well organized, with good car parking and helpful stewards. However, the elevation of the wheelchair area is not high enough to stop supporters who choose to stand from obstructing the view.

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