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Saracens fan Louise Warr gives her first impressions of Allianz Park after test event against Cardiff Blues on Sunday
The day was described as “like seeing children on Christmas morning” by Sarries CEO Edward Griffiths and I can think of no better way of describing the atmosphere that surrounded Allianz Park on Sunday.
It may still look like a building site in places, but it was home, something Saracens had craved for so long.
As cliché as it may be, there really was a feeling that there was “something special” about the place.
What first struck me about the stadium was the attention to detail, it was a dream a long time in the making and that is obvious for all to see.
Sarries adventurous and nomadic road to Allianz Park has led to them experiences different grounds, no doubt picking up ideas along the way.
There are areas for people to congregate, a variety of different food and drink outlets, a decent sound system and one really impressive big screen, soon to be joined by three more. Then there was the brass band.
Before the game this was an element, I was a bit sceptical about, but they provided a sense of fun to breaks in proceedings.
Although I am not completely anti Saracens’ attempts at songs (they are a bit of fun after all and isn’t that what supporting a team is supposed to be about?), it was nice to hear something other than Stand Up being blasted through the sound system.
These things may see tiny and trivial to some but they can make or break people’s experiences of the ground and whether or not they will return in the future.
Then there was the most controversial element of the whole stadium, the main attraction in many people’s eyes.
Whether you love or loath the idea of an artificial surface, it has created the opportunity for everyone to “keep on the pitch” as it has been so cleverly marketed.
Come the final whistle the pitch came a sea of red and black as everybody descended to get their chance to grace the turf, it was great to see.
Not only did it enable increased interaction with the players and the chance for kids to emulate their favourite Saracens stars, but also the flashes of cameras enabling people to document their memory of the day and say “I was there”.
However, most pleasing thing about the whole day was the general feeling about the place.
The presence of the ‘Pioneers’ around the ground ensured that a warm welcome was given to everyone, a refreshing change from the hostile stewarding that can be found at some grounds around the country.
There was a real sense of community; admittedly this would have been helped by the restricted nature of the crowd which was made up of 3,726 season ticket holders however all signs for the future are positive.
Yes, everybody would love Allianz Park to be a fortress, something I am sure will be achieved, but this doesn’t mean that our new home can’t be a welcoming place.
With the excitement of the day starting to die down thoughts now turn to February 16 and the game against Exeter, when we get to show off our new home properly for the first time and take the next step on what is sure to be a very exciting and special Allianz Park journey.