Friends Arena: Sweden / AIK Fotboll

Rasta Strandvag 1, Solna, 169 79, Sweden
Håkan Dahlström / Flickr.com

Located just North of the centre of Stockholm is Friends Arena, the home of the Swedish national football team. It is also where the Swedish side AIK Fotboll play their Allsvenskan games. The Allsvenskan is the top-flight league of Swedish football, in case you were wondering. The naming rights for the stadium were bought by Swedbank in a deal worth around €200 million. The deal lasts until 2023 but the company decided to donate the naming rights to a non-profit organisation that does work to oppose school bullying. The organisation is called Friends, hence it is known as Friends Arena.

Owing to the fact that the stadium is home to two different football teams it is important that we give you as much information as possible about them both in this guide. For that reason we will double up on the info that we tell you in the sections where that is relevant. That includes the likes of ‘How To Get Tickets’ and ‘About The Team’. Obviously we won’t tell you everything twice in sections when it’s going to be the same, such as ‘Stadium History’! Should you wish to scroll straight to the section you’re most interesting in then you’ll find that we will tell you about the Swedish national side first and then AIK Fotboll.

Stats

Friends Arena Stats
Year Opened2012
Capacity50,653
Average Attendance21,000
Record Attendance49,967 (Sweden v England (2012))
Pitch Size105 x 68 (7140)
Former NameSwedbank Arena
OwnerSwedish Football Association, Folksam, Solna Municipality, Jernhusen, Peab, Fabege
SponsorFriends
Clubs HostedSweden national football team, AIK Fotboll
First FixtureSweden v England (14/11/2012)
AIK Fotboll Stats
Year Founded1891
NicknameGnaget
RivalsDjurgården, Hammarby IF, IFK Göteborg, Malmö FF
Previous StadiumsRåsunda Stadium
KitBlack, Yellow & White (Home) / White with Black Trim (Away) / Grey, White & Black (Third)
Training GroundSkytteholms IP
Shirt SponsorÅbro
Team OwnerJonny Jergander
Record GoalscorerPer Kaufeldt (153)
Record AppearancesDaniel Tjernström (395)
Sweden Stats
Year Founded1908
NicknameBlågult
RivalsDenmark
Previous StadiumsRåsunda Stadium
KitYellow & Blue (Home) / Navy Blue & Grey (Away)
Team OwnerSwedish Football Association
Record GoalscorerZlatan Ibrahimović (62)
Record AppearancesAnders Svensson (148)

Friends Arena Photos

Friends Arena Seating Plan & Where to Sit

By Nicceeo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Friends Arena is built in a ‘bowl’ style of continuous seating that is quite popular with modern European stadia. It is in contrast to the more traditional style of stadium that has four separate and distinct stands on each side of the pitch. There are essentially three levels to the arena with the lower and upper tier separated on three of the sides by hospitality seating. On the fourth side is an extra row of standard seating.

AIK Fotboll Ticket Prices

It is also often quite tricky to narrow down the prices you’ll find for foreign team’s matches. Unless they are particularly popular with an English audience, like Real Madrid or Barcelona for example, you’ll struggle to get information about how much tickets cost and so on.

When it comes to AIK Fotboll what we can tell you is that there are several different areas within the ground for different sections of the supporter base. As well as the normal main stands there are also unreserved areas where pricing is slightly cheaper. There are two different family sections and there’s also an area exclusively for eleven to sixteen-year-olds. Finally, there is also a selection of Premium tickets available for those that enjoy a more hospitable match going experience.

How To Get AIK Fotboll Tickets

For AIK Fotboll the situation is a little bit easier. Your first port of call should definitely be the club’s official website, which is easy to navigate if you can speak Swedish. You can also call the club’s ticket office or drop into the stadium itself. Finally, there is a club shop located at Dalvägen 30 in Stockholm and tickets are available for purchase from there, too.

Where to Buy

Sweden Ticket Prices

Writing about ticket prices for national sides is always tricky. That’s because the people responsible for deciding the prices change from game to game. If it’s an international friendly then you’ll normally find that the country’s own Football Association comes up with pricing for tickets. If it’s a World Cup qualifier or a European Championship game then you might find that the prices have been influenced by FIFA and UEFA accordingly.

You’ll also find that ticket prices change depending on where in the ground you’d like to sit and how old you are. To give you something of an example, when Sweden took on Belarus in a World Cup Qualifying game the ticket prices ranged from 200 Kr. to 500 Kr. This does not include any specific hospitality prices that may also have been available.

How To Get Sweden Tickets

Again, much like with the pricing the decision of who is in charge of selling the tickets depends very much on who is organising the match. You might need to turn to UEFA or FIFA, though most commonly you’ll be able to get hold of a ticket for a Sweden match from the Swedish Football Association.

Where to Buy

Getting To Friends Arena

Swap Start/End

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and is therefore reasonably easy to reach, with plentiful options available to you. Here are some ways you might want to get there and to the ground itself:

Train - You can get to Stockholm from London by train if you want, though it will take you more than a day to do so. Once you’re there you’ll want to get the commuter train from Stockholm Central to Solna Station, which is less than ten minutes walk away. The Underground stops at Solna Centrum, but that’s more like thirty minutes from the stadium. Finally you might be tempted by the tram which also stops at Solna Station.

Bus - Bus 103 Arenastaden runs from Solna Station to the ground every weekend and whenever there’s a match.

Car - If you’re hoping to drive then you’ll be heading to the Arenastaden, to the north of Stockholm Central. Your best bet is to put the address into your phone or sat-nav device and it will give you specific instructions of how to get there.

By Air - There are four airports that serve Stockholm. Stockholm-Arlanda Airport is around 25 miles away from the city centre and is probably the closest to the stadium; Bromma is around twenty minutes away and both Skavsta and Västerås are around an hour and twenty from the centre of the city.

Taxi - A taxi from Stockholm Central to the ground will cost you about 190 Kr. and will take about fifteen minutes to complete its journey.

Parking Near Friends Arena

There’s no official parking near the stadium and limited car parking spaces around it. You can try, but your best bet might be public transport if you don’t know where you’re going.

Useful Resources

Friends Arena Hotels

As the capital of Sweden it’s reasonably fair to say that Stockholm is used to welcoming visitors. There are a number of hotels that you might want to stay at, of which these are our favourites:

Park Inn by Radisson Solna - £65+

Hotellgatan 11, Solna, 17125
This member of the Park Inn chain of hotels is located about a mile from the ground and boasts two restaurants and the same number of bars. There’s free Wi-Fi and a buffet breakfast included in the price of your stay and a fitness centre, a conference centre and a terraced area. More details.

Quality Hotel Friends - £85+

Råsta Strandväg 1, Solna, 169 56
The Quality hotel is practically located at the stadium itself, so you can’t go too far wrong if you’re looking for somewhere to stay before watching a match. It has three restaurants and offers free Wi-Fi, a buffet breakfast, a fitness centre, a business centre and a conference space. More details.

Story Hotel Signalfabriken - £95+

Sundbybergs Torg 1, Sundbyberg, 172 67
This 4-star hotel offers a buffet breakfast as part of your room package as well as free Wi-Fi. There’s a restaurant and a lounge and there are less than 100 rooms, so you know you’ll get a reasonably personalised experience. It’s about half an hour away from Friends Arena on foot. More details.

Pubs & Bars Near Friends Arena

The Swedish love a drink as much as the next nationality, with the Scandinavian country suffering from a bit of nippy weather from time to time meaning they need to have a drink to keep warm… Here are some places you might like to visit:

Carlsberg Bar

Råsta Strandväg, 169 56, Solna (+46 70 338 14 79)
Carlsberg might not be Swedish but it is one of Scandinavia’s most famous alcoholic exports. Little wonder, therefore, that there’s a bar in its name located within the stadium itself. It’s called Bistro 1847 when it’s not been turned into the bar, so you’ll be able to get some decent food and drink there before the match.

The Flying Horse

Odengatan 44, 113 51, Stockholm (+46 8 612 63 78)
The Flying Horse is not far from the centre of Stockholm, so you’ll want to have a drink here before making your way out to the ground. It’s a traditntal style pub that boasts more than 100 beers and about 120 whiskeys. Not somewhere to pop in just for a quick pint! They show sport on big screens, though, so if there’s a match you fancy watching then this is the place to be.

The Dubliner

Holländargatan 1, 111 36, Stockholm (+46 8 679 77 07)
There are times when it feels like a stadium guide in a foreign country wouldn’t be complete unless it contained a reference to an Irish bar. They are homes from home and a great place to go, with The Dubliner being no exception. Obviously it’s an Irish-themed bar, though it has a Swedish twist. The food is great, they show live sport and you can catch some live music there, too. What more do you want?

Facilities

Having only opened in 2012 it’s reasonably fair to say that the Friends Arena is one of the best and most well equipped stadiums in Sweden. The views are excellent from all over the place and you can get food and drink from the concourses before and during football matches and concerts.

Hospitality

By Frankie Fouganthin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Three-quarters of the stadium has a hospitality level in between the top and lower tiers. The hospitality packages are run by Lagardère Sports, an international company that specialises in such things. There are numerous restaurants throughout the arena as well as Skyboxes for those who enjoy a more private experience.

If you’re interesting in finding out about the hospitality lounges that are present at Friends Arena then we can give you some information. Perhaps the West Lounge will pique your interest, with a three-course meal served at your table from an open kitchen. Or maybe the more relaxed environment of the East Lounge is more your thing. Either way you’re in for a brilliant evening.

Private Hire

There are rooms and spaces for events of virtually any size. Obviously football matches are played in the arena on a regular basis, but di you know it is used for equestrian events? It’s also the location for concerts by bands and musicians. You’ll probably be most interested in the conferences and business meetings that take place there, however, and the stadium certainly has the facilities to welcome whatever event you’d like to host.

Stadium Tours & Museum

The guided tour of Friends Arena has something for everyone. Sports fans will obviously be delighted to see behind the scenes at one of Sweden’s most illustrious stadiums, whilst fans of architecture will marvel at the way it’s been built. Those who love technology will appreciate how it’s been integrated into the arena. You’ll get to see into the dressing rooms, around the media centre and walk to the side of the pitch.

The stadium tour is free to go on, but they don’t run on a regular basis. They happen on chosen dates throughout the year and never on a day when there’s an event of any kind taking place there. They begin at 1pm and leave from Entrance A. You don’t need to register before hand or get a ticket, just check the date of the tour and turn up. If you’re going to Friends Arena for another reason, such as a conference, then you can organise a private tour by communicating with the stadium directly.

About AIK Fotboll

AIK Fotboll Team In 1900 - See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

AIK Fotboll are more commonly known simply as AIK. That is short for Allmänna Idrottsklubben and translates as ‘The Public Athletics Club’. The athletics side of the club was formed in 1891 and the football side of it was added in 1896. They are one of Sweden’s most successful club sides, currently holding the record for the longest time spent in the country’s top-flight. The name was intended to be represented of the fact that everyone was welcome at the club; something that is perhaps reflected in the fact that they regularly claim the highest average attendance of any club in Sweden.

They have won the Swedish Championship eleven times, some way off Malmo FF’s record of nineteen but still impressive enough. They’ve finished as runners up in the Allsvenskan thirteen times, too. They’ve won the Svenska Cupen eight times, the Svenska Mästerskapet six times and the Svenska Supercupen once. They have appeared in the Champions League twice, most recently in 2010-2011, though they more commonly feature in UEFA’s Europa League competition. They’ve never won either.

About Sweden

Sweden National Team in 1911 - See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Sweden national side played its first game of football in 1908. Anyone watching might have been forgiven for being excited about the future of Swedish football after they beat Norway 11-3. They will have been brought crashing back down to earth with the five games that followed, however, with 1908 featuring matches against England, Great Britain, Belgium and two matches against the Netherlands. The Swedes lost all five of those games. That was more of a portent of what was to come than the 11-3 game could ever have been.

Perhaps that’s a touch unfair. After all Sweden have appeared in eleven World Cup finals to date, managing to finish second in 1958 when they lost in the final to Brazil. They qualified for the European Championships for the first time in 1992 when they did so automatically as the competition’s hosts. They were no makeweights, however, making it to the semi-finals. They won the Gold Medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics and won the Nordic Football Championship nine times before it was disbanded.

Friends Arena History

By Arild Vågen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Both AIK Fotboll and the Sweden national side played their games at Råsunda Stadium until they relocated to Friends Arena after it opened in 2012. What makes it so interesting as a football ground is the fact that it can be altered depending on what it’s being used for. It has a capacity of 65,000 for concerts and 50,000 for football matches, but it can be scaled back even further to allow for just 20,000 visitors if a more formal occasion is called for.

The Arena is the biggest sports complex in all of the Nordic countries and is famed for its retractable roof, which allows it to be used in any weather conditions. It opened officially in October of 2012 with an opening concert that was genuinely impressive in its size and scope. The Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden did the honours before watching the likes of Agnes Carlsson and Roxette perform in an event designed to represent the best Swedish moments over the years.

Future Developments

Håkan Dahlström / Flickr.com

In November of 2016 the area around the stadium, inclusive of the Arena itself, was purchased by a company called Fabege. They are likely to spend money developing the local area and making improvements to the ground for the foreseeable future, though no specific plans are in the pipeline at the time of writing.

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