Bergen may have a new football stadium, teams in the cup final and Brann 12th in a few days.
Two guys remove the fence signs on the stadium gates, some high pressure wash the rows of seats. An elevator with several men goes up to assemble the camera equipment.
Everyone has the same goal: to prepare everything for the first home game at the Åsane Arena.
– We wait. We have worked long hours, says football coach Mathias Låstad at Åsane Football.
Walk through the facility together with Marketing Manager Atle Berntsen. With three dozen volunteers on the team, they will host a folk festival on Wednesday.
The arena is surrounded by bulldozers, cables, trenches, and planks. In the concrete under the supports, an equally complete sticker with the item code and the supplier’s phone number can still be seen.
– We have the best possible control before that day, says Berntsen.
European granulate deficiency
The series of delays has been endless for the entire sports facility. For Åsane Football, it has cost tens of thousands in every home game.
The lack of rubber granules across Europe, uncontrolled fences in Poland and unfinished toilets have been some of the recent challenges.
Now “most things” are in place, says general manager Gorm Natlandsmyr. Although with some temporary solutions here and there.
On the short side there are construction fences to cover the wall behind the grandstand, on the long side a padlocked chipboard door. Natlandsmyr reminds himself to make a list of everything that needs to be fixed before Wednesday.
– There will probably be some arms and legs on Wednesday night, but we work hard to make it all work, he says.
Contrasts to what one is used to are present anyway.
A few hundred meters away is the old railway. With wooden benches and red seats, some slightly cracked and discolored. Four barrack buildings around the field and a small kiosk with a rusted lattice are some of the things around.
At Åsane Arena, you can see the spotlights from several hundred meters away, the sections of the stands in the club’s colors, the large screen in operation and, above all, the modern arena building next door.
– When the referee blows the whistle, I think it will be a good experience for the public, who have been sitting for years in the rain in Myrdal without a roof, says Natlandsmyr.
Predict more than 1000 in the match
The new stadium will have a capacity for 3,300 spectators. Natlandsmyr believes that the arena will have a lot to say for the club, both sportingly and commercially.
The last time Åsane played in the Obos league without a pandemic was in 2018. At that time, they had an average of 503 spectators.
So far, the ambition is to increase the number of spectators gradually, perhaps filling the stands from time to time against big opponents. With a good mix of free tickets and sales, Natlandsmyr predicts around 1200 viewers on Wednesday.
– It will be an improvement for us, who are used to playing for quite a few people, says Natlandsmyr.
The final dream of the cup
A great day awaits Sandviken this week too. One year after Lillestrøm shattered the dream of the cup final, three years after Lillestrøm shattered it in the final itself, Sandviken again faces the same opponent in the cup semi-final.
– We want to win the cup this year. Sandviken has a 45-year history with the best football. It has been a long time since they won medals and won the cup. The last time was in ’95, now is the time, says the chairman of the board, Pål Hansen.
Something has happened in Sandviken since they last played the cup final.
Of the team that lost the final in 2018, only Ingrid Marie Spord and Kennya Cordner remain. The president of the board explains it with clear options of direction and philosophy, and qualifies the development as formidable.
– Right now we are the best team in Norway. There is something beautiful about the fact that we now travel to Lillestrøm as favorites.
Nightmare Opponent of Fire
Finally, after Åsane has played home and away matches (Saturday), and Sandviken may have reached the cup final, Brann plays against nightmare opponent and relegation rival Mjøndalen.
The game, which the fans have described as “the most important of the year”, can mark the difference from the 12th or 16th place before the national team halftime.
A loss can send Brann back to last place, a win can send Brann six points ahead of Mjøndalen.
– All the upcoming matches are extremely important. It will be a rat race to collect enough points to be in the division, says coach Eirik Horneland, continuing:
– I understand that both this and the match against Stabæk are very interesting from a journalistic point of view and for everyone who follows Brann.
Three highlights for Bergen football this week:
- Åsane – Sogndal, Wednesday at 6pm
- LSK Women – Sandviken, Sunday at 3.15pm
- Mjøndalen – Brann, Sunday at 6pm