LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Stožice

Slovenia’s national stadium and home of Olimpija

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

Stožice is the main stadium in Ljubljana, the home of Olimpija and regular host to the national team since opening in 2010.

Set in the sports park of the same name, Stožice hosts soccer matches and concerts, its capacity changing from just under 17,000 to 23,000 to suit its purpose. Rarely is it full, though – for football, it hasn’t yet bettered the record 16,000 who turned up for the inaugural friendly against Australia in August 2010. A pre-season friendly between Olimpija and Chelsea before 2014-15 attracted just under 16,000.

The previous home of Olimpija and Slovenia, Bežigrad, in the same district north of the city centre, has lain fallow since closing as Stožice was on the drawing board. Not all these plans worked out, however: the main stadium and indoor arena were meant to be part of a shopping complex.

The vision of local architects Bostjan Vuga and Jurij Sadar was for a mixture of public and private concerns, a complex that both floated over the skyline yet was sunk into the ground. All would be enclosed by a clam-like shell, and surrounded by commercial outlets.

As the financial crisis hit and various companies pulled out, the concept was left half-finished and only part of its concrete shell remained. Today there is a complete absence of facilities in the immediate surroundings, Stožice also set just south of one of the country’s main motorways. Bare columns guard the entrance for away fans.

Once inside, the stadium itself is more than adequate, tidy and compact, the pitch lovingly cared for.

When they’re not boycotting matches in protest at years of mismanagement, home fans gather in the north end, the same as they do when Slovenia play. Away fans are allocated the south end, accessed through entrance 1.

getting here

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

Several buses run from Bavarski dvor in town to Stožice, a journey of some 17-20 minutes. The 13 stops outside the away entrance, while most home fans use the 20, alighting at Nove Stožice

Bavarski dvor is close to the bus and train stations – and closer than the one signposted in the station underpass. Head straight over the main road, veer right then turn left at the Rudolf Maister horse statue into Kolodvorska. Turn first right into Pražakova, then follow it to the end, to the post office and Abanka bank. The stop is right there.

Alternatively, taking the 6, 8, 11 or 18 from Bavarski dvor to Smelt drops you right by the Austria Trend Hotel, behind which a bar-lined passageway leads to the stadium.

A taxi from the city centre should cost around €9-€10.

getting in & what to buy

Buying tickets and merchandise

For Olimpija games, tickets available on the day are priced at €6, €4 for women and students, free for under-14s. Prices rise by €3-€4 for the visit of Maribor. For details of sales outlets around the city, see www.nkolimpija.si/vstopnice.

For international matches, fans should consult their own FAs for tickets. The Slovenian FA set up a merchandise tent as part of the Fan Zone behind Tribuna C.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Between the main road of Vojkova cesta near the stadium and the parallel one of Dunajska cesta, a pedestrianised walkway between the tower blocks and university complex is lined with bars. On Dunajska itself, the Austria Trend Hotel houses the sport-themed Winners Lounge, ideal if that’s where you’re staying or you’re entering a client before or after the game.

Walking from the hotel down pedestrianised Palmejeva behind, you quickly come to the trendy Du Bop bar and, next door, the more everyday eatery Točka 213.

Alongside, the Okrepčevalnica Zoki serves classic Balkan grilled dishes at affordable prices. Opposite, both Naša Terasa and Bar Local are standard cafés serving nearby residents. 

Further along, close to Vojkova cesta, your best bet for a pre-match beer at Stožice is All Stars, indicated by a large red sign as you step off the number 20 bus and head down the main road. Here, fans gather on the terrace to chug back large glasses of Union, surrounded by six pointy tower blocks and communal housing. The interior consists of little but a TV and a tap of beer – who needs more? The stadium is just over the main road.

Below, signposted at street level, Bar Krt is a dark den for hardcore Olimpija fans, also indicated by a cartoon figure of a mole in club colours. 

Apart from All Stars, most prefer to head to the family-friendly Fan Zone behind Tribuna C, with its outlets for Union beer and street food, keepie-uppie games and table football. For international games, the FA set up a merchandise tent, and you’re bound to see the strange figure of superfan Aleksander Javornik, dressed from head to toe in Slovenia green, offset by a pilot’s hat, sunglasses in the national flag and a selfie-ready beam. 

CITY

LOCAL CLUBS

AWAY DAYS