The big grudge match is going ahead at Hongkou Stadium. The fire damage has been repaired and Shenhua will play their first home game in over two months. For those of you who have never been to a Shanghai Derby before, check out what we wrote on before right here or, best of all, just watch this video shot from inside the SIPG team bus as it arrived at Hongkou for the derby last year. A YouTube video paints 1,000 words as they say.
In short, this is a massive game which touches some raw tribal nerves in the city and never fails to disappoint.
Raw tribal nerves as expressed in the medium of giant banner
Unfortunately though, of all the thousands of events which take place in Shanghai, this is probably the hardest to land a ticket for. A lot of people will be wondering why this is — let us explain.
Far Fewer Seats Available in Hongkou
Despite Hongkou’s capacity being listed as 33,000, something like 3-4000 seats are always kept empty as a buffer-area between the visiting and home fans to stop any shenanigans from going down. Of the 29,000 seats left after that, police rules say 12% of this amount must remain empty for “safety reasons” — whatever those might be.
So that leaves the real capacity of roughly 26,000. And this time, because the repair work from the fire isn’t totally complete, six sections of the stadium remain closed leaving only around 20,000 seats available. By the time season ticket holders, sponsor tickets, local big-wigs and so on are all taken into account, it’s said there’s only going to be a couple of thousand tickets put on public sale. Also, according to local media, SIPG fans are only getting 315 tickets which is around half their usual allocation, so this isn’t a normal match ticket-wise.
If you want to check the derby out, options are limited. Tickets are already going for 800rmb on Taobao. Probably on the street before the game you might be able to get them for a bit less, maybe something nearer to 500rmb. But whatever you do, make sure the seller takes you to the gate to ensure you aren’t sold a fake. Derby matches attract ticket counterfeiters out from under their rocks to try to take advantage of folks who may have their guard down in their keenness to catch the big match.
The atmosphere pre-game outside the stadium is totally buzzing for these matches. Hundreds of fans gather outside the gates to cheer the Shenhua team bus as it arrives at the stadium, or indeed to “welcome” the SIPG coach as it pulls in.
Last time the away fans arrived on a specially-commissioned Line 3 train replete with police escort, with security staff in riot gear and the army on hand in military vehicles to keep them apart from the home fans. So, it’s all quite tense. Even if you go up to the stadium and don’t manage to get a ticket there will be plenty to see.
The Shanghai Derby kicks off at ">this Saturday 3.30pm at Hongkou Stadium. Don't miss out if you can.
Saturday May 27: Shanghai SIPG v Beijing Guoan @ Shanghai Stadium (Chinese Super League) 7.35pm kick-off at Shanghai Stadium.