Trap guards against repeat of Saipan with top-notch facilities
It’s 10 years since Irish soccer fans last travelled to a major international tournament, but the troops are mobilising again ahead of this summer’s European Championships. Edel Kennedy headed to Poland on a reconnaissance mission and, in Part Two of her series, looks at what is in store for the team and fans
TWO teams turned down the training ground in northern Poland before Ireland accepted it as their base for Euro 2012.
However, the stadium operators said both teams -- Germany and Sweden -- rejected it for logistical reasons, not because they were unhappy with the facilities.
The training centre and stadium in Gdynia, which is 7km from where the Irish team is based in Sopot, was viewed by Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni last November.
He spent a short time viewing the gym, training ground and stadium before giving it the thumbs up.
"The Swedish wanted to train here but all their matches are in Kiev," explained stadium manager Darek Schwarz.
"And Germany decided that they wanted to train closer to where they're staying in Gdansk."
The new training ground will prevent a re-occurrence of the infamous Saipan incident in 2002 when then captain Roy Keane quit the World Cup squad after a row about the preparations and the training facilities.
At the moment people who train in the large gym can be viewed from the street through the uncovered windows -- but UEFA has already ordered that they be covered up before the Irish team arrives.
Meanwhile, the finishing touches are currently being put on the 43,000 capacity PGE Arena in Gdansk where Ireland will meet Spain on June 14.
While the stadium is largely finished, major construction work is ongoing in its surrounds as new train lines are built.
The stadium is likely to be popular with Irish fans as the local team -- Lechia Gdasnk -- has green team colours and the stadium seats are various shades of green.
The state-of-the-art stadium -- which was officially opened just over a week ago -- has a number of additional features including eight 'periscope' cameras. These are located alongside the pitch and can be raised to the height of the back row of the stands. The cameras will be used to film any fans who are causing trouble.
The stadium also has a unique high-definition camera which can take a snapshot of the entire stadium -- and show each spectator clearly.
"At the moment you can go on to our website and put in your seat number and download your picture as a postcard," said stadium press officer Michal Lewandowski.
However, it will be up to UEFA to decide if they will also offer this facility.
The stadium operators are also waiting for UEFA to confirm whether the on-site bar -- which can cater for over 250 people -- will be open to non-ticket holders during the match. The bar has 40 TV screens that could show the match.
The stadium also has prison cells for rowdy fans -- and a judge will be on standby via teleconference.
However, Mr Lewandowski said they are not expecting any trouble from the Irish fans.
He also said that camper vans will not be permitted to park at the stadium.