The Friends Provident St Mary's stadium was opened in 2001-2002 season, cost ?32 million to construct, and offers excellent views, comfort, safety and spectator facilities. It should also be noted, that a strict No-Smoking policy exists, with smokers limited to the concourses only. The capacity is 32,000, which are all seated.
There are two large screens above each goal, and these can be seen from most seats within the stadium. As at White Hart Lane, and many other grounds, these offer advertisements, Saints features before the match, and highlights and scores at half time and at full time. The 3,500 square foot megastore is located in the South East corner of the stadium, and is usually open from 9.00am - 5.00pm, and remains open on match days until 1 hour after final whistle. When you get inside the ground, it is a real treat. It has to be said that the staff are very friendly and accommodating - a credit to the club. There is a HUGE foyer area where you can mingle before the game, and a slick and tidy catering operation, one of the best that I have seen.
Once you have digested your fayre, then take your seat. And it's a bloody fantastic view! Reminiscent of The Riverside Stadium, you can see everything that goes on, without anything obstructing your view. There is also decent legroom, so you will not have to suffer economy class syndrome for the 90 minutes. The crowd towards the front of the Northam stand tend to sit down, whilst the rest stand towards the back stewards don't seem to mind, but they don't really like any of the gangways being blocked, reasonable to expect, and shows that they are doing their job. Also there is a No Smoking policy in the stand, which is a good thing if you would rather not smell like an ashtray when you leave. Home crowd, like most clubs these days, is rather quiet, with the majority of banter coming from those home supporters in the Northam Stand.
There are pockets of support elsewhere, but these can be very quiet at times. Big TV screens, a la White Hart Lane, provide entertainment, and are perched on the top of the stands, and if you can't see the action at the far end of the pitch, then this is a bit of a God send. What a great place to go as away support.
Well done Southampton. A blueprint for clubs wanting to get a new ground, this is how it should be done.