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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.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    08/09/2011 at 11:24

    With those prices for the merchandise I’d almost be tempted to become a Guoan fan. ALMOST.

    Seems you and Guangzhou have had very large crowds for most games this season. How many away fans make the trip to Gongti? Must be quite hard for them to be heard over the 30+k rabid lao Beijing.

    • bcheng

      08/09/2011 at 15:07

      The cheapest official Nike merchandise is a RMB199 tshirt, the official replica jersey goes for RMB260, while the version the players where goes for RMB799, expensive compared to the fakes (especially considering the fakes are very good quality), but not as bad as in other countries.

      Yeah, for one the supporters section I sit in is on the opposite side of the stadium as the away section, beyond that, whenever the away supporters start to be heard, they get shot down very quickly by the home fans. Away fans vary a lot by the opponent. Usually somewhere between 25-150 depending on who we’re playing and when the match is. Shandong may bring 200+ and Liaoning will probably come close to that this weekend. Back when Tianjin was allowed to come to Beijing, they would bring close to a thousand.

      • CP

        09/09/2011 at 02:49

        Why and how is Tianjin “banned” from Beijing? Guess it’s something to do with violence?

        • bcheng

          09/09/2011 at 07:33

          During the 2009 match between these two sides, there were some incidents among the fans during and after the game. In response to that, Beijing fans were not allowed to attend the return leg in Tianjin. Since then, neither side opens up their away supporters section when these sides meet.

          This is the situation for Tianjin fans before the away match at Beijing AND is equally true for Beijing fans before the away match at Tianjin:
          -The police will invite supporters section heads to “have tea” in the days before these two sides meet
          -Local bus companies in the city will be told not to take supporters to the other city.
          -The police presence around the stadium will be at absolute max
          -Any away fans who still bother to make the trip will be denied entry and “detained” (in Beijing, they take them to Worker’s Indoor Arena to watch the match, in Tianjin, they don’t even let the Beijing fans watch the match).

          • CP

            09/09/2011 at 09:36

            Thanks for explaining, bcheng. Given the geographical proximity and probable longstanding social rivalry between Beijing and Tianjin, I can see why it’s so dangerous that away fans need to be officially banned when their teams play.
            That’s why I was wondering whether the ban was official or implicit, as in fans saying to each other: “don’t dare show up at our stadium or else…”
            I’m glad this doesn’t happen with other cities, right?

          • Yiddo Huayi

            09/09/2011 at 09:43

            Ask him about Henan… 😉

          • Flyingkiwi

            04/09/2015 at 12:09

            I have plans to attend a couple (Maybe) of Tianjin Teda games. It’s almost set in stone that I will go to the Shanghai Shenxin game on the 19th of this month and I may also attend the Guoan game (I think I’ll be able to get away with it) although I will probably take the opportunity offered to visit Panjin that weekend (3pm kick-off, won’t have to stay). I note that Teda and Guoan have very similar ticket-booking systems. Does anyone think that I’ll have difficulty getting a Teda ticket delivered to a Beijing address??

          • Flyingkiwi

            24/09/2015 at 13:06

            Went to the Tianjin Vs Shanghai Shenxin match last weekend. I tried to visit TEDA early on in the season, at the TEDA Stadium; way out in the depth of the Economic Development Area , only to find that they had moved to the Olympic Stadium which is far more central. One can only surmise as to why they moved but it does seem to make sense. The Tianjin Economic Development Area is a long hike. Moving closer to your potential fan-base does appear to make sense However!Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium is still not the easiest place to get to as it is NOT on the subway (The TEDA Stadium is on the light rail route and can be seen from the sky-way. It still took a bit of getting to – through a mall and a car park- but, at least, you could see where you were heading). From checking at a bus stop after the game I discovered that there is, apparently, a bus (Number 8) that will get you there, fairly directly, from the station. But where you get on this bus, I couldn’t say as I didn’t use it. I had other things to do first.

            I had booked my ticket on-line a couple of days previously and had to collect it from a room in the City Center Office building, a bright, shiny-glass building at number 3 Xikang Rd (NOT at, or really particularly close to, the ground). I took the subway (line 3) to the Xikang Rd stop, found the office building without too much difficulty and was directed to the 20th floor. On stepping out of the lift, a sign in front of me told me that, to my left was 2002; a private bank. To my right was 2001, the address I was looking for, an empty suite of offices. The two of us who had decanted from the lift (for the same purpose it transpired), stood there scratching our head and then went for a search, eventually locating the ticket office tucked away in a corner by the toilets.

            When I’d booked my tickets (60 or 100RMB each), I’d noticed a special offer. You could, if you so desired, buy tickets to the last 3 TEDA home games (Shanghai Shenxin, Gaungzhou Evergrande and Beijing Guoan). On checking the schedule, I’d noticed that the later 2 games clashed with plans that I already had BUT that the Evergrande game kicked off at 3pm and that I should be able to get back to Beijing in time to see Guoan play Guangzhou R&F at 7:30pm. Moreover; the 3rd of these games (Vs Guoan) would be a useful reserve should my plans to visit Panjin for a Liaoning game that week come to nothing (I note that it says above that Guoan fans are banned from attending matches in Tianjin but I think I can slip in under the radar) and, if not, it would only be 20RMB wasted. Furthermore, I theorised, both of these games (Vs Evergrande and Guoan) would be fairly well attended and that getting tickets at a later date might be difficult so I’d opted for the 3 ticket package. So, imagine my disappointment to find that they’d changed the kick-off time for the Guangzhou game to 7:30pm. Not a happy bunny!

            The nearest subway stop to the stadium is at Tian Ta. You would then have to either catch a bus from the subway or walk. At a guess (I’m not good at estimating distance), I’d say the walk from Tian Ta to the stadium is about 2 kilometres. It’s not a particularly difficult 2 kms (It’s pretty flat), but it is a reasonable distance and takes a bit of time (Circa 30 minutes).

            I arrived at the ground rather too early (About an hour before kick-off) but this allowed me to have a bit of a look around before going in. There is a small office to the left of the main gates that has gate-sale tickets and there are also dozens of scalpers; many hanging around the ticket office. I really don’t understand the Chinese system of scalping tickets. How can they make money when there are door sales?? I can’t work it out.

            Tianjin Olympic Sports Stadium is a massive edifice (A capacity of 60,000, according to Wikipedia. That MIGHT be correct). There were approximately 15,000 people in attendance. The upper tier was totally devoid of people, although the crowd was fairly boisterous and made a bit of noise. There is no way either the Evergrande or Guoan games will sell the place out.

            It would, theoretically, have been possible to get back to the station in time for the last couple of C trains returning to Beijing but I’d decided to stay the night

          • bcheng

            28/09/2015 at 14:53

            Thanks for the report.

            I’ve heard a number of reasons for not using Teda Stadium over the years but the 2 I tend to hear the most are that it’s football specific design is actually a hinderance, making it easier for fans to throw things on the pitch and cause security problems, the other is due to its seaside location and building projects around it which have caused a number of infrastructure issues. Of course all this is mute because after the chemical explosion close by a month or two ago, the stadium needs considerable renovation.

            Attendance for Evergrande and especially Guoan should be big, possibly 30k+, though I’m not sure how much Tianjin’s struggles this season has eroded their fickle fan base. No away fans allowed in Tianjin but as long as you aren’t wearing Guoan colors, you won’t have a problem. There have been unwitting foreigners who showed up wearing green and were escorted from the stadium before.

            Re scalpers, over the years it’s seemed obvious they aren’t operating like those in the US/Europe. They tend to have 2 types of tickets, either free tickets given to sponsors or additional tickets printed by club or ticket selling company. As ticket offices tend not to be clearly marked or inconvenient (or both), having other sources around the stadium where people can buy tickets from guarantees “catching” everyone. In places like Beijing and Guangzhou where tickets are extremely difficult to come by, they are another source of income for the club/ticket selling company and simple calculations of how many tickets are put on sale + individual match tickets compared to attendance figures, along with seeing guys with huge stacks of tickets straight from the printer when individuals are only allowed to purchase 3 tickets each makes it obvious what’s going on.

            Not sure if you’ve made the trip to Panjin before, but keep in mind the stadium is in the middle of nowhere, sort of between Panjin and Yingkou.

          • Flyingkiwi

            28/09/2015 at 23:36

            No. not been to Panjin yet (Had, in fact, never heard of the place until being told that Liaoning FC had moved there when planning a trip to Tiexi earlier this year and I lived in the Dongbei for a LONG time) and have to say that the likelihood of me making it there are diminishing rapidly. I had thought that a 3pm kick-off would give me enough time to get back to Panjin or Yingkou in time to get an overnight train back to Beijing for work on monday. But I’m starting to think that this might be a bit of a pipe-dream (Kick-off 3pm, final whistle around 5pm, catch 6:45 D train back to Beijing might be cutting things just a tad too close if the stadium is miles from anywhere).

            There are just 6 CSL grounds that I haven’t visited this season. Liaoning, Chongqing, Guizhou, Shenxin, Henan (Didn’t make the Guoan game. Plans changed. I ended up at Huanglong Stadium watching Greentown play TEDA) and Shandong (Well… I have. But not for a Lvneng game. I saw China Vs Macedonia there). I might head that way at the end of October if I miss out on a Guoan Vs Evergrande ticket.But, at the moment, it’s looking like I’ll be taking a couple of further trips to Tianjin (And, maybe, make another pilgrimage up to see Yiteng… Draw… AGAIN!) 🙁

          • Flyingkiwi

            29/09/2015 at 10:29

            By the way: I meant to say, with regard to the scalping of tickets, whilst it’s common, it doesn’t seem to be universal. I didn’t notice a single 黄牛 anywhere in Nanjing and at Evergrande the subways were full of, what appeared to be, supporters trying to buy tickets rather than scalpers looking to sell (But it is also true that the scalpers at Guoan look to buy unwanted tickets).

          • Flyingkiwi

            18/10/2015 at 19:37

            Further information regarding visiting Tianjin Teda.

            The Number 8 bus runs between Tianjin Station and Tianjin Olympic Centre. The terminus is right next to the West gate and there is a stop almost directly outside the main entrance at the North gate. It costs 1RMB and takes about 45 to 50 minutes.

            Evergrande had a fairly large contingent of travelling support there last night (Mostly stuck up in the nosebleed section but there were a few red shirts around in general admission… There was even and incident where the Tianjin “Ultras” got rather upset with one of them.

            Good to hear a female voice taking a leading role in the organisation of the Tianjin support, although it didn’t sit right to be listening to a high-pitched voice leading the 裁判傻逼 chant after the penalty decision.

            On the scalping of tickets:

            For some Guoan games (Teda/Evergrande/etc), you have to be damn quick ordering you ticket of the official website. I missed out on Teda at Gongti this because my network was down the day tickets went on-sale and, by the time it came back the next day, everything had gone. So, sometimes, the scalping must be similar to what happen in the UK/US.

          • Flyingkiwi

            25/10/2015 at 21:29

            Just back from Tianjin and TEDA Vs Guoan and, apart from the pathetic second-half performance that saw Guoan concede 4 ridiculous goals, the only thing of note would be to say that if Guoan fans are banned from attending Tianjin matches someone forgot to tell the several thousand that were there singing lustily (In the first half. Not so vocal in the second half). There were far more Guoan fans there than Evergrande fans at last weeks match (Not surprising when distance travelled is taken into consideration, I suppose).

            Oh. Yes. The number 8 bus needs about an hour (Perhaps a little more) to negotiate Tianjin traffic. 50 minutes is cutting things too fine.

          • Flyingkiwi

            27/10/2015 at 23:18

            Ticket for the Evergrande match went on general sale on the official website today (Tuesday… Later than normal. It’s usually a monday). All gone! Every last one of them! BEFORE they, officially, went on sale. Something smells decidedly fishy from where I sit

            Last year; I bought my Evergrande ticket off Taobao (And payed twice face value or something) but well recall scalpers trying to sell tickets to others as I went in for as much as 750RMB. Guoan really need to get there act together and have door sales.

  2. Lu0hh

    08/09/2011 at 15:26

    i might be going to these games next summerish if i study at qinghua loll
    getting a csl jersey would be sickkkk.

  3. Yiddo Huayi

    09/09/2011 at 10:23

    Just noticed that the upcoming CSL matches have several good tussles (on paper):

    Guoan (2nd) vs Liaoning (3rd)
    Nanchang (15th) vs Shenzhen (14th)
    Dalian (13th) vs Henan (12th)

    Hangzhou-Changchun and Jiangsu-Tianjin also close as teams are separated by only 1 or 2 points.

  4. Flyingkiwi

    29/06/2015 at 09:43

    Don’t you think it’s about time this post was updated?? Guoan tickets for 30RMB?? Not a chance!!

    • bcheng

      29/06/2015 at 10:32

      Indeed, the article is from 2011, nowadays the tickets have been slightly bumped up to RMB50, 100, and 150 through the official ticketing website.

      • Flyingkiwi

        30/06/2015 at 08:52

        More than that! I doubt you’ll get in to Gongti for less than 100RMB in the cheapest seats this term.
        I’m usually in bay 17 or 20 (In the West stand) and I get my tickets delivered after booking them on the official website. Tickets for 17/20 upper set you back 150RMB plus delivery (+9RMB),lower 200. Bays 17 & 20 are not really that central. Bays 18 & 19 cost more (Probably 200/250) On occasions (The league game against Guizhou and the AFC game again Brisbane), I was in Bay 5 upper in the East Stand. Those tickets had a face value of 150RMB, too (Although those I got off Taobao: one for slightly cheaper than the original price, the other a little more). The cheap seats (I.E. bays 1 to 4 or the away end) I haven’t been in for a couple of years (Because the view is pretty naff). But I’d be surprised if it’s less that 100 (More likely to be 120). Can’t get any info off the web-site at the moment as they have no tickets on-sale (As there are no imminent home games) but I’m trying to find out how one sources ticket for away matches as I plan to go and watch them in Zhengzhou next weekend so I’ll ask (Getting away tickets isn’t straightforward. I’ve attended a couple of Guoan away matches; one in Hangzhou, the other in Nanjing. In Hangzhou, I got my ticket off a scalper and was then re-located by the cops on my way in. In Nanjing, they told me that to buy tickets for the away end, I’d have to go to a certain ticket office between certain times and I couldn’t be arsed doing that so I just bought general admission and sat as an island of Beijing green in a sea of Jiangsu blue).

        • bcheng

          30/06/2015 at 11:27

          I was actually wrong about the prices, I’ve looked into it and the prices this season for individual match tickets are RMB100, 150, 200, & 300 (of course plus the RMB9 delivery fee you mentioned). Tout prices vary heavily and don’t want to go into that too much at this point because even though there are only 2 big matches left, with Guoan in contention the fans are sure to come out, so prices are bound to be all over the place.

          Away tickets are a little harder. Specifically regarding this weekend’s match, Henan has refused to confirm whether they are opening the away stand, though they did the same thing last year and ultimately did open it up (I’m guessing its just a tactic to deter fans from bothering to make the trip).

          Typically there isn’t an away ticket window (only place I’ve seen one is in Hangzhou), and the supporters sections sort things out for everybody, it usually requires showing up at a certain gate 2+ hours before the match. Information is always sent around on the Guoan tieba and on matchday (or a day or two before) on the Beijing Fan’s Association (北京球迷协会)weibo account.

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