Skagerak Arena – Odds BK
Well, after short spring break another European season has started for my Dinamo. This year a little bit later since we finished 2016/2017 Croatia Championship 2nd and we started Europa league qualifications in the 3rd round. The first opponent was Norway club Odds BK and destination Skagerak Arena, Skien. Everyone in Croatia was happy with the draw since they thought it would be yet another easy game for Dinamo, but boy were they mistaken. The home game finished 2-1 for Dinamo, luckily, and away game in Skien finished 0-0.
The Skagerak Arena, previously known as Odd Stadion is the home of Odds Ballklubb, or in short just Odd, Norwegian football club from small town Skien. The club was founded in 1894 and is one of oldest clubs in Norway still in existence. The capacity of Skagerak Arena is now 13.500 seats. It was rebuilt in 2007/2008 to hold this capacity, previous capacity was 12.500. Biggest attendance was in 1984 semi-final Cup game against Viking, around 12.500 people, although the official number was 8854 people. The highest official attendance was 12.436 (although people are saying there were more than 13.000 people at the game, they have a part without seats so the number is possible) people in 2015 Europa League against Borussia Dortmund which was also the biggest game in club history. The Skagerak Arena has had an artificial pitch since its inauguration.
Directions to stadium
Skien is really small tow, all together around 50.000 people so once you’re in the city center you can walk everywhere. The walk from center to Skagerak Arena should not take more than 15 minutes. The Arena is located in a quiet residential neighborhood. The address is Fridtjof Nansen’s Gate 21, 3722 Skien. There’s an Oslo Torp Sandefjord airport nearby, about an hour drive with a car or you can go to Torp and take a bus to Skien from there. If you’re coming from Oslo, you can take the train from Oslo (S) central station, it will take you around 3 hours to Skien. Or you can take the bus which arrives in Skien’s center.
If you’re planning a trip from Croatia and you’re not rich, just don’t go, especially in the summer season when every single man, woman, and child from Norway are in Croatia. While you can find some affordable flight from Copenhagen (Denmark) to Croatian coast (from Oslo you can take a bus, which is cheaper than the train, to Copenhagen) it’s almost impossible to find an affordable flight from Croatia to Oslo or some near connection city like Copenhagen. So all you’re left is 36-hour drive (one way) in a bus with connection lines in Berlin (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark) or Stockholm (Sweden). And it’s quite an adventure.
Tickets for Odd BK games can be bought online or at the shop across the press and players entrance at the Skagerak Arena. The Arena is hardly ever full so there’s no worry about the tickets. Ticket prices range from 190 NOK for a seat behind the goal to 300 NOK for a central seat at the main stand. Prices can be increased for high-profile games. There are no stadium tours available.
There’s a small club shop at the stadium and a bigger fan shop (OddButikken) at the city center, at Schweigaardsgate 11. Opening hours of the shop are Thursday 3 pm to 6 pm and Saturday 10 am to 2 pm. On match day working hours can vary. You can also buy souvenirs online.
Where to eat, drink and sleep?
Again, if you’re from Croatia like me, then the answers are nowhere, nothing and under the bridge. Or you can just bring your own food and drink with you like Czech’s do when they come to Croatian coast. For us, even Romania is too expensive (no offense to Romanian standard).
For example, a beer in a pub is from 5 euro and up, here I can get three beers for that. No wonder Norwegians are getting drunk the moment they step foot in Croatia, I would be too. Price for pizza is around 20 euros and up, for that, you can get half of some big animal in Croatia. The cheapest room was 50 euro per night, of course without breakfast, personal toilet or shower, while here you can rent a flat for 200 euro per month. But if you come from any other normal country, any other than Croatia, than Skien is a nice city to visit.
Usually, there’s a pub open on match day, located a minute or two walks from Skagerak Arena. The pub is called Fort Falkim and they welcome home and away fans since people and fans there are very friendly. But if you’re “lucky” as I was and the match was considered as high risk, then the pub is closed due to safety regulation. But there are a few pubs in city center like Mets, Brewers, Lundetangen and the Blind Dog. Also, there’s an Odd bar just across the shopping mall in the city center.
I stayed in Hostel Dag Bondeheim, Prinsessegate 7a, Skien. It’s located in city’s center and it’s less than five minutes walk to fan shop and grocery and around ten minutes walk to the stadium. The bathroom is shared but it’s quite nice and clean, and most important “only” 50 euro per night. If you’re looking for something fancier, you can check other hotels on booking.com. If you’re into the culture there’s a library by the Hostel, the oldest Norweigan church within 2 min walk and Henrik Ibsen par within 2 min walk.