Updated: Jan 20, 2020
During my time in Korea and Asia a goal and major ambition of mine was to visit and go to as many football fixtures as possible in the top flight of Korean Football system in the K-League 1. My first attempt was Seongnam Football Club. Seongnam FC the title of the club‘s name is located in a satellite suburb city of Seongnam which by subway (how I got there) is located just around 45 minutes south of Seoul on the southern portion of the Han River. Getting out of the subway station the city and community seemed quite lively unlike most North American/European city suburbs. Restaurants and other services were still open on a Saturday night with groups of people out and about enjoying the much cooler temperature, in comparison to earlier in the day as humidity levels slightly dropped. Approaching the stadium which is maybe only 5 minutes no more then 7-8 minutes from the station I couldn’t help but notice there wasn’t much atmosphere. Despite most K-League games not being sold out even the bigger ones struggle to do so, key fixtures can and generally generate good but never sold out crowds, therefore knowing that I didn’t think much of the little hype nearing the ground.
Getting to the main gate there was the final clear realization that there wasn’t a game on. Despite checking online and being certain that there was one by that point there was no denying that we got the schedule wrong. My love for the sport is so strong that despite no game my excitement was still high due to the fact I’m outside a football ground for a top flight club. In Korea there’s so many sporting complexe‘s that some of them don’t necessarily have the feeling of a full out home for teams, as teams get placed in stadiums that were either not made specifically for them and/or just placed in stadiums due to proximity of where the club originated from or is based in.
Tancheon Stadium the stadium for Seongnam FC built in 2002 but not used for the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Korea and Japan. This stadium specifically had a different feel and different overall look to it. The team officially moved in by 2005 with prior games only being used for friendlies. Tancheon Stadium and the complex had a strong focus on the football club for example in the main gate where I realized there was no game happening there was major signs indicating this is the home ground to Seongnam FC. With the gate having signs everywhere of the badge, the clubs name and posters everywhere on streets poles and around the stadium walls with the players listed and displayed with the team slogan. Around the ground there was no security, meaning gaining access to the stadium wasn’t difficult and also being a foreigner if it wasn’t allowed getting out of it wouldn’t be to hard. Coming all that ways out I decided to go as close as possible to the pitch and take pictures. Surprisingly the stadium had two separate team stores that had merchandise on display but without a game they were obviously not open. After walking around the ground once and taking pictures I was still shocked at how well they made the stadium there home in comparison to other sports in the country excluding baseball as they do a wonderful job making home stadiums very represented for the team that occupy them. Although the stadium genuinely felt like the home for Seongnam even with the track around it. To add to the level of club representation around the ground they’ve built a temporary or semi temporary stand behind the goal for ultras and supporter groups which would add atmosphere to games as they are bringing fans as close as possible to play.
While leaving I went back to the community and main strip of the city to find a place to eat and get out of the humidity. Overall I left the stadium feeling satisfied and more eager to see a football game. While going to find a restaurant I realized Seongnam is a cute satellite city which still has a element of big city feel and also small. As groups of people took to the main centre of the city to enjoy the nightlife and the much cooler summer air in the evening. The only thing left for me wondering is what the atmosphere of the community would be like on game day, but I guess my curiosity would have to be put on hold until the next time. Since the city has purchased the club after a series of bad years financially this club seems to be very much apart of the city of Seongnam and is there to stay in the city.