A Glimpse Of The Future?

February 20, 2006

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I travelled to Darlington’s relatively “new” and somewhat bizarrely named 96.6TFM Darlington Arena, two weeks ago with Supporters Club colleagues Kim Stuckey, David Brain and Robin Schols.

I must say that we all came away from our first visit very impressed by the facilities on offer at the stadium. It had the look and feel of a “big” club, which is somewhat at odds with the sort of gates that “Darlo” have attracted this season.

What really set us thinking was the layout of the stadium for example the club shop and ticket office was right next to the Bar 66, which was open at 12.00pm just as we arrived. The bar was very well laid out, forming a central island in the room, which meant that everyone was served very quickly despite the fact that the room was really quite full. The food hatch was less accessible but any impatience at having to queue was offset by the ridiculously cheap prices for the food on offer.

Combine this with the very cheap bar prices and you are left to wonder if Darlington can do it why can’t we? I know that the price and brands of beer on offer at the Mem are a real bone of contention amongst Supporters Club members and it is an issue that we continue to raise with the Football Club, because we are asked about at virtually every home match.

However the reality is that the Stadium Company is tied into a contract dependent on carrying specific brands of lager, bitter and cider, so there is no easy answer. What I can say is that your supporter’s directors David Brain and Kim Stuckey are aware of the strength of feeling on this issue and Kim Stuckey has been in discussion with Ian Holtby to see if something can be done in terms of the price of both food and beer.

At present the bar facilities we have on offer at the Mem for ordinary supporters probably leave a little to be desired in terms of the ventilation systems and visiting places such as Darlington shows what can be done. When the stadium is redeveloped it would be great if Supporters Club members could enjoy the equivalent facility of that found at Darlington – but no metal chairs please they were freezing!

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