Atatürk Olympic Stadium

Failed bids, that Liverpool win and the 2023 final

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Set towards Istanbul’s main airport, by the main TEM highway towards Edirne and the Greek border, the crescent-shaped Atatürk Olympic Stadium was built at a cost of $140 million between 1999 and 2002. It is best known as the venue where Liverpool made a remarkable comeback to win the Champions League in 2005.

Holding 75,000 people and a long, long ride from town, in distant Ikitelli in the north-west fringes of Istanbul, this key to the city’s failed bid to host the 2008 Olympics, was most recently used by Beșiktaș.

Even though Istanbul’s de facto third club moved into their new Vodafone Arena in 2016 – and the Turkish national side play at Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray these days – UEFA have long earmarked Turkey’s national arena to stage another Champions League final. Pandemic cancellations over, this takes place in 2023 between Manchester City and Internazionale.

Atatürk Olympic Stadium/Jens Raitanen

As for former tenants Istanbul BB, the renamed Istanbul Bașakșehir now play at their new stadium, in the nearby district of the same name.

It was always a strange arrangement, anyway, four-figure crowds dotting the empty terraces for home matches. The Istanbul BB faithful, the Boz Baykușlar, a sympathetic and humorous crew, fed up with the violence that has pervaded the Turkish game, had to be bussed in from town. 

They occupied an area of the West Stand, Bati Tribün, which along with the East (Doğu Tribün) creates the stadium’s signature crescent look. They are bookended by the North (Kuzey Tribün) and South (Güney Tribün) Stands. The latest club to use the Olympic Stadium as a home ground is Fatih Karagümrük, promoted to the Super LIg in 2022 and coached by Andrea Pirlo for the creditable 2022-23 campaign.

For major European nights, away fans are allocated seats in the South Stand (Güney Tribün), through Gate R. It’s an uncovered end – and, yes, it does rain in Istanbul.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

The stadium now has its own station on a spur of the M3 metro line, Olimpiyat, two stops from Ikitelli Sanayi on the main M3 line that starts at transfer hub Kirazli. Also at the end of the extended M1B line from Aksaray, Kirazli is a good 30mins from town. For the whole journey, allow the best part of an hour.

As the metro station is an obvious pre-match gathering point, for big European matches the local authorities advise against visiting fans using it.

On match days, special buses are laid on from town. For European games, they generally leave from Sultanahmet Meydani (or Square), the former hippodrome, four hours before kick-off. The price is set at a €10 return.

A taxi would be around TL200/€10. Allow an hour, depending on traffic.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

For all games in Turkey, you need a Passolig card before you can be admitted. Here’s an English-language guide on how to do this. Once you’ve done this, you can buy a ticket for specific matches on a week by week basis online through Passo.

The days of turning up before kick-off and hoping to get in are sadly no longer with us.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

There are no bars, cafes or restaurants anywhere near the stadium that fans can go to before or after the match unless they are ready to travel another few miles further out of Ikitelli

On match days tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages, and small snacks, are sold around the stadium.