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Attending a Beijing Guoan Match: A First Time Visitor’s Guide

Beijing Guoan has been one of the best draws in Beijing the past few years, with massive crowds turning out to watch one of the CSL’s best sides week in, week out. If you’re looking to get in on the action, here’s how to do so.

How to Get Beijing Guoan Tickets

worker's stadium seating chart

Worker’s Stadium Seating Chart

The only official source of Guoan tickets is Yongle, and the fans have a hate/hate relationship with the company.  Tickets are only available at http://www.liansaipiao.com (site is in Chinese only) and cost RMB100, 150, 200 or 300 depending on which section you choose to sit in.  Tickets tend to go on sale five days or so before the match and remain on sale until two days or so before the match.  All tickets require a RMB9 delivery fee (which is also why ticket sales are stopped a few days before the match).

The other option, and the one most laowai will revert to, is getting a ticket from the scalpers/touts/yellow cows who hang out around Worker’s Stadium on match day (often arriving 5-6 hours before the match begins).  You will find them clustered around the East and (especially) North Gate’s of Worker’s Stadium.  Depending on the opponent, how close to match time it is, your negotiating skills, whether you look local or foreign, and which stand you’re buying for, a  scalper tickets will run you anywhere from RMB100-200, but expect quotes of well over that for big matches.

All tickets will have a terrace and seat number, while you must sit in the terrace on the ticket, seating is first come, first served within that terrace, which is why you’ll see a mad dash of fans at the north and east gate when the stadium opens up two hours before match time.

Getting to Worker’s Stadium

The great thing about Gongti is how accessible it is, with subway Line 2, 6, and 10 all within walking distance of the stadium.  The stadium is serviced by a large number of bus lines as well, making transportation to and from a match unbelievably convenient.  There are also a small amount of parking spots in and around the stadium for those who want to drive.  Taxis are unlikely to be an option after the match as a crowd of 30,000+ pours onto the streets of Beijing, but this just gives you an excuse to hang out in the area.

Inside/Around the Stadium

You are allowed to bring food into the stadium, but no bottled water or drinks. Plenty of stands outside the stadium sell large plastic cups with different liquids that you can bring into the stadium.  Once you go through security, there are stands selling Coke products, kebabs, and Chinese snacks for reasonable prices.  If you don’t buy a fake shirt or scarf from the mass of vendors on the way to the North Gate, there is an official store inside the west gate, though if you’re looking to purchase official gear, there’s a store that offers cheaper prices (and everything is official) facing the KFC and just east of The Den.  Stadium Dog is also nearby, the only place inside security that sells beer (and also has great hot dogs).  Once you enter the actual stadium seating area, the only thing for sale is Coke (RMB10/cup), though you can go to the stands outside the seating area.

Worker’s Stadium on Matchday/Purchasing Guoan Souvenirs

Gongti on a matchday is a truly unique atmosphere and can rival what you’d expect at top leagues in Europe, even if the quality of play on the pitch isn’t so good.  If you’re looking for official souvenirs, see my suggestions above, otherwise  vendors start setting up around noon on a matchday and they sell all kinds of Guoan merchandise, from the ubiquitous vuvuzelas  and other noise makers to jerseys, tshirts, and scarves and everything in between (buttons, stickers, umbrellas, etc).  You can try negotiating with the vendors but prices won’t go down too much, stickers/buttons are usually around RMB10, scarves go for RMB20-40 depending on material (tshirts are around the same price), and fake jerseys go for RMB40-60.  Chinese fans tend not to go to bars before matches, but most restaurants in the area will have small contingents of fans, with the McDonald’s just east of Dongsi Shitiao and the KFC by the stadium packed. If you’re looking for where the locals drink, check out Xiao Zhang Kao Chuan in the alley between Shi Mao Bai Huo and the post office by the north gate.  Laowai supporters often take advantage of the stadiums closeness to Sanlitun and do their pre/post match drinking in that area or at the Den restaurant, across from the stadium.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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