Ferencvaros, without doubt Hungary’s biggest club, made the new Ulloi uti stadion* their home in the Autumn of 2014. Built on the site of the old, ramshackle Florian Albert Stadion, this part of the IX district of Budapest has witness has played host to Fradi since 1911. With the national Puskas Ferenc Stadion (like many of Hungary’s stadiums) currently scheduled for refurbishment, it has also been the home of the national team since the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. The modern stadium seats just under 25,000 thousand.
Getting to the ground5km south-east of the centre, located halfway to the airport, the Ulloi uti stadion is quickly accessible from the centre of Budapest (Deak Ferenc ter). Getting there is simple enough, take the metro to Nepliget. From there, exit the metro into the underground concourse, walk around the shops, bakeries etc. in the middle of said concourse and head upstairs. You should be faced with a big angry looking eagle and the brand-spanking new stadium behind. It should take no more than 20 minutes on the metro from anywhere in the middle of town.
This is one of the few stadiums in Hungary where you will probably have a crowd to follow. Those dressed in green for Fradi and mostly red for Hungary.
An alternative is to take the metro to Corvin Negyed and then walk along Ulloi ut itself for 2 and a bit kilometres (25-30 minutes). This option is more attractive if you fancy warming yourself up with a mini pub crawl on the way (see more in Pre-Match Drinks below).
Obtaining ticketsFor Hungary games
The availability of Hungary tickets very much depends on the performance of the side. As long as Hungary have a decent shout of qualifying for the Euros or World Cup, then getting a ticket requires some forethought. For friendlies and dead rubbers, then tickets will be easily available.
The simplest way to buy tickets is via the official ticketing site of the Hungarian FA.
There is an English option in the top right-hand corner. Tickets for Hungary games will be listed from approximately two to four weeks before the match. As a foreign passport holder, you can use the website to purchase a ticket voucher, which will then need to be exchanged for a ticket at the Ticket Office (Jegypenztar). Prices will probably start from about HUF 3,000 for a corner seat for a friendly. If you live in Hungary, then another option is to obtain a MLSZ (Hungarian FA) Supporter Card, which are available from the ticket office in Balna. You can then use this card to purchase the ticket from the above website or at various Ticket Express ticket offices around town.
For Ferencvaros games
Fradi fans – rightly or wrongly – have a reputation with the authorities as containing a significant hooligan element. As such, there is some pretty tight security around the ground and even when it comes to buying a ticket. Unlike other Hungarian first division teams (where a foreign passport normally suffices), you will need a Ferencvaros Supporter Card to enter the stadium. This is available at the ground itself from the Ticket Office (Jegypenztar).
At the time of writing, the office is open from 10-18 on weekdays, 9-13 on Saturday. It will also open on a Sunday if it is a matchday. Be prepared to pay HUF 1,000 (HUF 1,500 on matchday) for the luxury of a supporter card. You will more than likely be required to take some photo identification (preferably passport). Furthermore, you are likely to require a so-called vein scan of your palms. To enter the ground, you will be required to have your palms scanned to ensure that the person who bought the ticket is the person who is trying to enter the ground.
From 25. November, 2017, there is as option to obtain the so called B-card which doesn't involve pals (vain) scanning but is available only to sectors B 1-2-3 and C1.
These security measures have resulted in a backlash from many Fradi supporter groups who see the excessive security as demeaning, invasion on rights and unnecessary. As such, attendances in 2014/15 have been drifting towards the 3,500 mark with the atmosphere plunging accordingly (last years average was around 9000). This may change if the club and supporters can reconcile their differences.
You can also buy tickets at the same place. Prices will range from HUF 2,000 to HUF 6,400 (plus HUF 500 if you are purchasing on matchday) depending on where you want to sit and who the opposition will be.
Generally, you will be ok finding an English speaker at the ticket office. If not, just hope that the workers can use their initiative to wonder what a group of non-Hungarians may want in football club’s ticket office!
Pre-match drinksA few options here:
Settle into a bar somewhere near a city centre metro station and hop on the underground about 45 minutes before kick-off (assuming you have tickets).
Take in a few bars on a walk down Ulloi ut. Start at Corvin Negyed before heading down Ulloi ut stopping at anyone of the authentic Hungarian bars on the way. You may need to cross the road a few times, you may meet a few odd folk, you may need to resort to a can or two at times, but you might well get an authentic pre-match drinking experience if you are in the right place at the right time.
Zold Villam (Green Thunder) – Located in the concourse at Nepliget metro station, this place can get pretty busy on a matchday as they sell branded Fradi beer. Just don’t wear purple. The slightly more upmarket (for a underground station) Agi Presszo sits next door.
Szoglet (Corner) – A football related option located on the opposite corner of the intersection from the stadium (follow the signs for the Planetarium).
Street drinking – If the sun is shining, pick up some cans and relax in the fairly open space outside the stadium or in Nepliget (People’s Park) diagonally across the busy intersection from the stadium.
Facilities (including bar)The best stadium in Hungary receiving UEFA’s highest category. Pretty decent eye lines from all over the stadium although both ends are protected by a slightly annoying net.
Here's how the view from the VIP stand looks like and here's how from the other stands.
Bars are available under the stands around the entire venue and queuing times tend to be pretty good and toilet facilities are even pretty good. Food and drink is noticeably more expensive here than at any other Hungarian ground, but that can only be expected in the rush to modernize Hungarian football. There is also a restaurant in the stadium, but that is not my cup of tea so I cannot comment.
There is also a Fradi museum.
Whole stadium has free wifi with the apparent option of replaying goals directly on your smartphone (although I have not seen that in action as of yet).
What to expect?
A particularly fickle bunch of fans that are very difficult to please. If Hungary get behind or fail to dominate, then the fans are often on their backs. The nation’s footballing past has been totally overshadowed by the immensely talented team of the early '50s combined with a failure to qualify for a major tournament since 1986: this seems to hang heavily on players and fans alike as they all struggle to recalibrate expectation into hope. That said, the national anthem is gallingly moving, a goal will drive fans and players forward alike and when Romania come to town…oh la la.
Come on the right day and when Fradi’s rowdy supporter groups turn up then you could be in for a cracker. The atmosphere for the game against Ujpest is always electric (unfortunately quite often with ensuing trouble that goes with it – you will only find it, if you look for it). Other times, the 3,500 fans will look lost in a stadium built for many more.
Ferencvaros are potentially a sleeping giant. They are the only team that could attract in excess of 10,000 fans on a regular basis, but most of Hungary seems to support them. They now have a stadium to support that potential, but at the moment despite relatively high investment (including the return of Zoltan Gera), they still seem unable to mount a genuine title challenge. It may be some twenty years ago the Fradi last dominated Hungarian football, but they certainly have the opportunity to do it again if they can obtain some direction.
Points of interest
- The planned renovation of all Hungarian clubs’ stadiums in the top 2 divisions has potentially hit a rocky patch with a government directive ordering that all civil servants and government officials use the term ‘sports facility without roof’ instead of ‘stadium’ in official communique. So enjoy the Ulloi uti stadion as it may be one of a kind.
- A grenade was found whilst excavating the stadium: it is still unknown whether it is a Soviet relic or an extremely elaborate ploy by an Ujpest fan smuggling extravagant pyro. Probably the former.
- As well as Fradi sor, club branded energy drinks and palinka (fruit brandy) are also available. It is unclear when Fradi toilet paper will also be available.
- As an away fan to a Hungarian national game, as long as you are not a neighbor, then in all likelihood you will be treated pretty well outside the stadium. The locals are generally up for a drink and photo or two. The mood may be a bit different after the game.
Points of caution
- The security folk at Ferencvaros are not the friendliest bunch so expect a good shaking down on the way into the stadium. Also they really, really do not like people sitting or standing on the steps in the gangways.
- As a word of warning, tickets will never be available on the day of the game for Ujpest matches (Hungary’s big derby). A similar rule may also apply to other high profile home games against the likes of Diosgyor, Honved, MTK and Vidi. Try and buy tickets before matchday whenever possible. If not, don’t blame me if there are none on sale.
- If you do get to watch the Ujpest match expect huge police presence, disruption to the metro and possible trouble (although at and near the stadium you should be fine).
* To avoid confusion only, the official name of the stadium is the Groupama Arena.