Sunderland supporters got a sneak preview of the club’s new Stadium of Light fan zone.
Ahead of the season’s first home match of the season on Saturday, hundreds of fans turned out to have a look around the new facility at a special preview event.
Really, every stadium in the country should have something like this.Stacey Foster
Featuring a huge screen, music stage, bar, mini football pitch and a merchandise shop, the site will have space for up to 6,000 supporters on match days.
Fan zones have proved especially popular in Europe and America.
Fans got a special treat as first team stars Jermain Defoe, Jack Rodwell, Billy Jones, Vito Mannone and Emmanuele Giaccherini made an appearance to meet and greet them.
Among those sampling the experience were Stacey Foster and Gennine Barker along with Gennine’s daughter Hayley, nine.
Stacey, 30, of Southwick, said: “I think it’s fantastic.
“Really, every stadium in the country should have something like this.
“It’ll bring a lot of fans down during the season.”
Gennine, 35, of South Hylton, said: “My daughter’s really interested in football and I’m sure she’ll want to come down before going to the matches.
“This is a really good way to start it by letting fans come along tonight and meet some of the players.”
The fan zone will be staffed by around 50 SAFC employees, with up to 20 working on the kiosks and up to 30 employees in other areas, such as the kids activity zone.
The venue will be open ahead of Saturday’s Premier League against Norwich City, which kicks-off at 3pm.