After weeks of hype and a huge investment, Oslo’s Vålerenga athletics association VIF opened its new stadium with great if soggy fanfare over the weekend. Fans and players alike braved rain showers both Saturday and Sunday, but the long-awaited new sports facility didn’t help the men’s football club. They lost their debut match on new home turf to Sarpsborg 08, by a score of 2-1.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Monday that the players were depressed, their coach was furious and fans went home disappointed. For fans of the spirited eastside club known for its singing “klan,” it was a major downturn.
The new stadium itself, which can seat 17,000, won rave reviews. The football team that can call the stadium its new home just didn’t seem to qualify for their surroundings, according to newspaper Dagsavisen. “We see how serious this is, all together,” said their celebrity coach Ronny Deila when he finally emerged publicly on Monday after the loss on Sunday night. “And we’re working every day to improve. We have the human resources we need, but we need to stir them up.”
Meanwhile their new home, which features Norway’s largest section of the grandstands devoted to fans who stand through an entire match, was described by sports commentators as nothing short of “fantastic;” open, large yet intimate at the same time. Opening festivities ran all weekend and the Vålerenga’s women’s football team did a lot better than the men on Saturday, beating Kolbotn 2-0.