A closer look at Estadio Saprissa


The picture above isn't of a prison, or war camp, but of Estadio Saprissa.

We are about three hours from kickoff and I'll be providing coverage throughout the evening. For now, I wanted to give you all a glimpse of what Estadio Saprissa really looks like, so I took a trip down to the stadium earlier today to get some pictures of the place.

Here is a closer look at Estadio Saprissa:








What do you think of the pictures? Is Saprissa worse than you thought?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, U.S. Men's National Team, World Cup Qualifying. Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to A closer look at Estadio Saprissa

  1. MZ says:

    Wow, that is abominable.

  2. Tony in Quakeland says:

    My first thought was of the Maze Priosn outside Belfast…

  3. Matt says:

    Eh, yeah the fence might be a bit intimidating but is really the norm for Latin American stadiums, no? And at least they have seats. In most stadiums in Brazil you end up just sitting on the concrete steps. Although, not meant meant to downplay how intimidating of an environment it will be for our guys tonight, it really seems par for the course for a lot of stadiums in Latin America.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Ives, this may sound bizarre but thank you for the outside photos of Saprissa. Everyone has the inside photos but for those of us not fortunate enough to ever visit, the photos of the outside also help paint the picture.

  5. KGB says:

    Isn’t this where they filmed Gladiator?

  6. IFishie says:

    That place looks like its held together with duct tape. Seriously, it looks like it could collapse at any moment.

  7. jey says:

    they should have put the home depot center in the middle of compton so we could have had a stadium that looks like that.

  8. NewGuy says:

    Great stuff Ives. Wow. Kind of like Legion Field in B’ham but 1,000 times worse.

  9. jane says:

    Per New Fifa rules. Players are not cap tied till they play for a nation at senior level.

  10. tokick says:

    Ask, and you shall receive.

    Thank you, Ives, thank you, for the pix.

    It looks like the national stadium where I grew up. We used to have huge platforms in the 4 corner sections for standing room only (cheap tickets), resulting in a lot of shoving/pushing!

    Living in the US, we sometimes take things for granted…

  11. nico says:

    Ives, is this your first time to a stadium in Central America? I ask because I’ve been to stadium’s in CR, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama…most are pretty similar to the pictures you posted. Granted CR’s economy is slightly better than some in C.A. but it is still comparable to that of Bangladesh or Botswana (for instance).
    I guess I am surprised that you are so shocked by the deteriorating infrastructure in CR.
    Regardless enjoy your trip.

  12. Mark says:

    Helps paint the picture. I know you’ll be busy blogging during the game, but any pictures of the fans before game time and after the game would be awesome.

    Keep up the awesome work Ives!!!

  13. 4now says:

    I like Matt’s comments.

    After all in “the world of soccer”, Ives, this IS par for the course.

    I just wonder why we need an “American voice” comparing it to a prison or war camp… and where that gets us.

    That fact is that when the whistle blows and everyone is huddled together, it is everything but.

    If you want to make a point about security and safety and make a connection to the tragedy of the WC Qualifier in the Ivory Coast last month, or if you want to talk about how barren conditions contribute to the intimidating atmosphere, that is all fine.

    But why just cr*p all over a foreign country’s national stadium with such crude and ultimately ethnocentric sentiments attached?

    This is the part of the mafia that is disappointing, and what holds your blog back from becoming something more.

  14. northzax says:

    yes, how dare a poor country not spend millions on a better soccer stadium!

    this isn’t north america or europe, kids, this is a country with a per capita gdp one eighth that of the US. par for the course.

  15. Mike says:

    Nico’s comment was lame….wow…Nico’s been to Central America and Africa and Asia!!

  16. Jim says:

    Uhhhh, they are spending millions on a better stadium.

  17. Tom says:

    Looks like there’s blood on the seats.

  18. TimN says:

    Adapt, improvise, overcome…

  19. nico says:

    Nico’s comment was lame….wow…Nico’s been to Central America and Africa and Asia!!

    Posted by: Mike | June 03, 2009 at 07:52 PM

    Hilarious. Thanks Mike, your comment was much more meaningful.
    Haven’t been to Africa, fyi. Just pointing out the economic status of CR.

  20. KCB says:

    Ooohhh, Blood Stains. Very Classy.

  21. DGinLA says:

    This stadium has nothing to do with the country its in. Blame the owner of Saprissa. That would be the deep pockets of Jorge Vergera or what ever his name is. He’s building a brand new, state of the art stadium for Chivas, why not saprissa next. Bottom line is that the US is going to rock that stadium in a few hours…..

  22. SteveT says:

    4Now, IT LOOKS LIKE A PRISON. Get over yourself.

  23. Heffe says:

    Hopefully Ives got a tetanus shot before going over there!

  24. me says:

    No, Jim.

    The Chinese government is actually funding CR’s new stadium, which is slated to be a beauty.

    Curiously enough, though, capacity will only be at 30K. Granted, the country is small but I’m sure it could fill 40K-45K easily.

  25. me says:

    And whoever thought those images are of blood stains….LOL.

    Those are old-ass seats that are chipping away more and more.

    Unless you were being sarcastic…..

    Whoosh! Right over my head.

  26. ThaDeuce says:

    you got box seats or will you be in the stampede?? if its the stampade, you are one brave soul.

  27. 4now says:


    t iny


    : )


    : )

  28. RS says:

    That looks a lot like the outside of the prison that I pass on the way to work.

    Whether it’s nice to say or not, fact is fact.

  29. Jose A. V. says:

    wowwww Looks like a prison.

  30. fieldsy says:

    having been to quite a few soccer stadiums in south america, this stadium in costa rica is in far worse condition. when i lived in ecuador, their olympic stadium was in much better condition and they are a poor country. it is possible to have acceptable stadiums in poor countries. Ecuador even has a pretty nice stadium with the liga de quito casa blanca and it doesn’t take millions to keep the stadium in acceptable condition.

  31. jduck says:

    4now, are you compensating for something? Sounds like you have some sort of complex. SteveT is right, get over yourself.

  32. Rudy says:

    Watch your step, Ives!

  33. The Athority says:

    We’re lucky to have you Ives!

    Serious post game questions for CR coach, team and Federation:

    A) Today Stepp Blatter announced that only Prisoners and Animals should be behind fences. He asked that everyone in FIFA begin removing fences. Would they welcome this in Saprissa?

    Thanks Ives.

  34. jduck says:

    Oh, and thanks for the pix Ives. Some of us haven’t ever seen a C. American stadium. And btw, I strongly doubt that is what all C. American countries stadiums look like. I hope some of you are generalizing.

  35. me says:

    That’s surprisingly bad, actually. I, too, have been to San Jose and other parts of Costa Rica and the country is far ahead of its CA neighbors and improving quickly. I’d have thought that the stadium would be in better condition than that.

  36. Striking21 says:

    I also feel the prison or war camp comment is unnecessary. As a costa rican american I have been slightly disappointed with the disparaging remarks Ives has been making in these posts. I do appreciate the coverage and hard work but can you resist the urge to pander to a third world stereotype about Central America.

  37. Sean Monaghan says:

    Lol jey comedy aside the HDC is in Carson …..not much better than compton

  38. Todd says:

    It makes RFK look like Wembley.

  39. angler23 says:

    I don’t think anyone should be terribly offended by the observation that this place looks like a gulag. In fact, it would seem that CR has taken advantage of that very fact over the years. Further, the fact that the fans are so close to the pitch and the joint looks like it could collapse at any moment are also relevant to FIFA safety guidelines and whether they are being fully observed by playing in such a stadium. Poor country – rich country, you still have to provide a safe environment if you want to take part in the WC tourney.

  40. Thomas513 says:

    Sometimes I wonder why Ives bothers with this. Anytime he posts something, a sea of know-it-alls steps up to knit pick and whine. Don’t you have something better to do than bitch about everything on this blog?

    Ives, thanks for the photos. I do not think think you are racist for your comments.

  41. Little Meow says:

    what a hell hole

  42. patrick says:

    If i recall, Ives has been there, and possibly more than once, they’ve played there like 4 times since 2000. He writes his post not as a personal reaction piece, but for his audience, largely from america, who probably HASN’T seen these types of stadiums. In general, you dont see a lot of shots of the stadiums, outside of the pitch and the interior so to see one, one that is a home field fortress is a new angle. This is something that you wont see in any other article about this game, or the home field advantage that costa rica has.

    I’m sure you didnt mean to come off as condescending but the language of your post and your name dropping allows it be read as such.

  43. Neumannator says:

    Ives, you have the best job in the world.

  44. jduck says:

    I second Patrick!

  45. cbr says:

    if a majority of ppl on planet earth live in poverty it only makes sense that there are many stadiums like this around the world

  46. Turtle says:

    Reminds me of the Orange bowl actually….as they were tearing it down. Yikes.

    Oh and…It’s simply an opinion to say what something looks like from one’s own point of view. it doesn’t have to be a manifesto on an entire region just because I, or someone else thinks a stadium looks like a prison, war camp, or set of the latest Terminator movie (which it in my opinion does). If that stadium was in Hawaii, Modesto, Toledo or Barbados it would still look like a prison, war camp or set from the latest Terminator. And in any of those cases it would be equally as suprising considering it’s history and context in which we are talking about.

    Thanks for the picture’s Ives. I’m now a little wiser about what the USMNT experiences while traveling. Really good stuff.

  47. Michael says:

    This is the part of the mafia that is disappointing, and what holds your blog back from becoming something more.

    Something more then a blog? 4now, what would that next step be? Ives writing for a large sports related website? ESPN can be considered that. Ives going to Costa Rica to cover a USMNT for a large sports related website, as well as providing site and sound for most people that will never get there? The pictures prove that.

    I think what holds this blog back sometimes is that people forget that this is a blog about soccer, and the things that soccer create in the world, like this hell hole of a stadium that a country calls their home field. People like you feel the need to jump on others opinions and in reality, do not allow this blog to be something more…

  48. Al says:

    I thought I was looking at the LA Coliseum for a sec.

  49. JR says:

    Or the LA Sports Arena :)

  50. nico says:

    patrick- fair enough. You are right sometimes I forget this is a blog, attempting to make a point (whether I am right or wrong) can be futile. I’ll stick to my usual vague and brief comments from now on…and try to complement Ives whenever possible :)

  51. A. Ruiz says:

    They’re building an new national stadium already in CR. SO I dunno why everyone is bashing Vergara, well other than it’s fun to bash the owner of Chivas.

    Anyway, I wish an MLS team would build a version of this stadium somewhere in the middle of an urban neighborhood. Obviously, it would be kept up nicer and stuff, but I like how compact and intimate it is for a 25k seater.
    It reminds me of Wrigley in Chicago, sans paintjob.

  52. tim says:

    it is hard to even know the stadium is there when visiting, it just comes out of nowhere. Also, the supporters section get the stands to bounce about 2 feet. Despite the looks, MLS would be lucky to have a stadium environment like saprissa. It doesn’t matter the game, they rock that stadium. (I have visited several times).

  53. GRP says:

    Trust me, it’s not that bad — forget the prison comparisons. I attended CR v. El Salvador there last summer and even brought my kids, and we all had a blast.

    The neighborhood around the stadium isn’t great, but not all that different from many “stadium neighborhoods” worldwide. The roof leaks a lot so even covered seats are no guarantee of staying dry, but that’s a relatively minor complaint.

    Let’s not make too much of this — I think the USMNT needs to get this out of their head with a win, as the quality of the CR MNT (“La Sele”) is rather poor. The Ticos are wonderful people, but their football was dreadful that night — lots of long balls, choppy possession, etc.

  54. Scott A says:

    Thanks for the inside peek Ives

  55. rednow.red4ever says:

    Actually IIRC Ives has been to El Salvador, CR, and Azteca and Honduras I believe…possibly more…just to throw that out there…

  56. scott says:

    sure it’s run down, that’s what makes it great. i say that as former exchange student in costa rica having been to many a game there. it will always have a special place in my heart as a saprissista. if you think it’s bad, go to a game at Fello Meza the home of Cartago- the Cubs of costa rican futbol. i showed up there and watched grown men piss in the moat around the field for the whole crowd to watch, priceless.

  57. Eduardo says:

    Looks like a estádio de futebol.

    Sorry, Ives, but I can´t understand your post. Uncalled for.

    Prision, war camp? Like what? Guantanamo?

  58. HomeyBoehme says:

    When I first saw the top picture on this post I thought to myself “wow, that looks like a prison”. I laughed out loud when I read what Ives wrote because he literally caught exactly what my first impression of the stadium was. I’m not sure why that is offensive to so many people. It just really is what the picture looks like.

  59. BB in DC says:

    Well, the clumps of exposed rebar jutting out from Saprissa’s pillars, that’s a craftmanship thing, not an income level thing, right? They just didn’t finish the job! But hey, anything for a home field advantage, I guess.

  60. 4now says:

    To call Ives out on a misrepresentation is not to say that he is a racist, it is simply to hold him accountable.

    I have a great deal of respect for Ives, and this is one of my favorite blogs, which is why I take the time to be critical of it.

    If you some of you short-sited morons lack a critical capacity than, to be honest, go *u(k yourselves. Your missing the point.

    Ives is hard-working, and he has a great blog, but sometimes he is short-sited. Those of us taking the time to say something are doing so because we care.

    So, in less, high-horse fashion, let me say to all your morons, to go suck it.

  61. Greg says:

    Thanks for the pics, since I have never been to S.A. I have not see this before and It’s good to have a site that shows us what the CR satdium is really like

  62. Gary says:

    i didn’t know they played in camden, NJ?

  63. JBeto says:

    We Costa Ricans LOVE to hear Americans cry about our facilities. It really is flattering that you guys go that far to make an excuse for losing a game. Not sure why the condition of the stadium really matter. Sure the facilities are bad, bottom line it is FIFA approved. Call it prison, war camp, whatever… I think ¨torture chamber¨ is more suitable name for US fans to call it.

  64. Jon M. Roberts says:

    Hi Ives, first of all, Im a great fan of the USMNT I read blogs and news by the hour. I just think this post was completely bias and unnecessary, especially after thae fact that we got our “behinds” kicked! Yes, the pitch had some to do with it but, there is no reason to depict a stadium like you just did, not every country has the capability to build a new stadium like the Dallas Cowboys or even something similar to RSL’s . But they still played their heart out, while our guys could not even get a decent shot on goal. Im not surprised about the result, but I did expect more of a fight, that is easier said than done I truly to know that, but still it hurt to see us fall like that, and like always we fought to the last minute, especially the last fifteen we played like we should of have done the whole game even with the younger lads, Davies, Adu and Kljestan subbed in. But all in all, this blog was irrelevant, what ideas are you trying to ignite? The more blogs like this make your writing more and more similar to the ridiculous comments of Futbol Caliente on ESPN Deportes. You do not want to end up being compared to the likes of Faitelson, so really I do love your articles but this was a bit low, and unnecessary, lets focus on our players and what we have to offer. Again thanks for your writing, I’m a great fan and I share your MNT passion, the above is just a simple opinion, keep it the passion up and let us all hope the best for Saturday night! GO USA!!!

  65. drock says:

    I’ve been to Estadio Saprissa in Costa Rica, seen the nice parts of San Jose and the not so nice neighborhoods. I’ve played soccer in the streets of Tejarcillos, a Nicaraguan ghetto of San Jose ,Costa Rica. Even Trained with a university team in CR and I can still say that Estadio Saprissa is still a dump. A lovable and serviceable dump, but yet still a dump, compared to American standards.

    I love Costa Rica, the REAL Costa Rica, it’s a great nation, their national stadium is just not the best they could do, SO they are building a new one and rightfully so.

    4now go back to listening to Air America and cleaning tables at Starbucks.

  66. Jesse says:

    Looks like it’s about on par with Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras where I live and where the US will be playing in a few months. The stadium is in slightly better condition here with the main difference being that the fans aren’t right on top of the field. The fences, crumbling concrete, and old chipping seats (in the sections where there are seats and not just concrete stairs) all look about the same.

  67. Jeremy says:

    Saprissa’s replacement next year:

    link to en.wikipedia.org

  68. Reid says:

    4now would you rather Ives gone with: if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.

    Nice to be one sided, where Ives has to follow that about the stadium but you don’t when resonding to others. Love it when a person talks out of both sides of their mouth.

  69. Ceez says:

    Don’t fields have to be FIFA-approved to host an international match? How did that stadium even come close to being approved. That’s horrible!

  70. 4now says:

    Hi Reid,

    I would have preferred if Ives was more imaginative and thought-provoking in the way he used the images.

    I think I explained this. If Ives wanted to use these images to make a point about stadium security in the developing world (e.g. the Ivory Coast tragedy) or historically (e.g. Hillsborough), that would be great in my book…

    If Ives wanted to use the photos to explore how less comforting conditions lead to a more intimidating atmosphere in order to explain why the US has failed to win in CR… than that would have been great.

    But to simply post pictures and make comparisons to prison camps and then ask, “what do you think? are you surprised?”

    Is to be unimaginative, lazy and sloppy in your journalism.

    Sometimes this is the trap that Ives falls in… and I think, as his first audience, we should hold him accountable and work to make him a better journalist by being critical.

    I really do respect Ives work and his blog. Which is why I take the time.

    I chose to talk down and be crude because that is where the conversation went, and I got the sense that is was the only way that some ‘mafia’ members would listen.

    I don’t think its talking out of of two sides, I think it’s a question of context, and responsibility.

    I’m not a journalist. And crapping all over one of you in something of a crude blogging shouting match is something different then being narrow-minded, ethnocentric and misrepresenting another nation.

    You don’t seem to get that Reid.

    And, by the way Drock, there is no one singular REAL Costa Rica – and American standards aren’t singular either. That’s the point.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I suppose I have to go back to my “Air America” and “Starbucks”, apparently.

  71. Mike from linden says:

    looks like it could fall down at any minute. Really shocking to see. If Saprissa cares about their fans, they need to reinforce the beams to the stadium

  72. Chase says:

    Some of you people need to get a grip. Ives was just exhibiting how big of a piece of crap this stadium is…

  73. FxN says:

    This place looks a stadium of pure class compared to ‘Crew Stadium’

  74. Over by dere says:

    Thats awesome! I love places like that. Too bad MLS stadiums dont have that kind of character. Id pull out the gradeschool desk chairs though. That way I could get more asses into the place.

  75. Jose M. Quiros says:

    All games are over now 11:45 pm SatJune 6. It turns out that the U.S. team is at best mediocre, that the pitch and the stadia are of no consequence, that all that counts is how the teams play. What the U.S. needs is for Dr. K to go back to Germany and get a new batch of German-speaking African-American players, faster, leaner and less arrogant than the current batch. Good luck in retaining the second place in the second part of the CONCACAF eliminations. Little Costa Rica will try to do its best with young, lean and fast players even while playing in giant make-believe American football stadiums that are much too narrow and entirely too makeshift for real futbol. At least Costa Ricans know that what counts are who wins and not the insufferable arrogance of U.S. fans and sport “journalists”. Cheers.