This will really annoy Manchester City fans, but it has to be said: In the public view, the blue side of town is very much the “other” side. But the Etihad Stadium Tour kind of makes up for it.
You go to Old Trafford, and it’s surrounded by pubs, visitors always walking around. The store is packed, the trophy case immense, the stadium tour swamped. And then you go over to City, and the gleaming new stadium is surrounded by … not much, except now other stadiums. It’s a massive soccer complex, filled with training pitches and other facilities, and will no doubt produce decades of success. It just doesn’t feel like it’s in town.
The irony is, that from what I hear, City is more the city’s team, United more the world’s. That may be nonsense, but I’ve heard it, and it says something about the relationship between the clubs.
Going to a game at City can feel more like an English experience, less like a tourist one, and the same is true of the Etihad Stadium Tour. When I did it, just about everybody else on the tour was English — not the case at Man United!
The stadium — being expanded this year to 6,000 seats — was originally part of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and then replaced Maine Road, the “Wembley of the North,” as City’s home.
I think the Man City Stadium Tour is a better deal, in that it has more options. Of course, I’m a full neutral on the Manchester Derby, so I just judge these things on the tour merits.
Here is a video from my tour. The expansions (one already one) consist of third tiers on each end.
At City, they have several options:
- The standard 90-minute tour — dressing rooms, pitch-side, player tunnel, media room, a couple of hospitality areas. £18 adults, kids under 16 £11.
- A three-hour Legends Tour for £95 each. A legend, in English soccer, means “a former player whom the club’s fans will have heard of.” This is the usual tour plus a photo op with the legend and a three-course meal.
- A lesser version of the above, called a “Special Guest Tour,” is £35 and lasts only 90 minutes — with no food or photo op.
- A 90-minute tour that is somewhat abbreviated at the stadium but also includes the academy. Your soccer-playing kids might dig this one.
- Most clubs don’t have tours on Match Day, but City does — a 60-minute version that includes the tunnel and team dugout. £18.
- Their top-of-the-line one sounds really fun, actually. It’s the three-hour First Team Experience, hosted by their former kit man “Chappy,” who will no doubt regale one and all with stories in some kind of accent Americans will struggle with but enjoy mightily. That’s £199.
I took a tour in 2014, so the stadium has changed a bit since. Still, here is a photo gallery. For more on booking a tour, see tickets.mancity.com.
Here is my gallery: