Being a football and music fan I have found myself a frequent visitor to Wembley for events at both the stadium and the arena. I have always cringed at the area around the venues because Wembley has frankly always been a less than picturesque part of London and it has been hard to avoid wondering what tourists must think when they find themselves in Wembley High Street making their way to an event. It is a shame that our national stadium has such an unattractive location or that some of the millions spent on the site couldn’t have been directed at the surrounding region.
Looking on the bright side, the area immediately around the venues has been improved considerably over the years. The Arena boasts a new concourse and the stadium has been rebuilt. Opposite the arena you will find the swanky new Brent Civic Centre and there is now a large outlet mall with the eateries and coffee shops that were so sadly lacking for decades. I will never forget the many occasions on which I had to trudge unenthusiastically along Wembley High Street in search of food to find only burgers and fried chicken on offer.
The Shopping mall has a good selection of outlets so if you are looking for a new outfit, kids clothing or sports gear then you can pick those up during your visit and there is at least something to do if you arrive early for a concert or a football match.
Not So Good
Whilst the facilities have improved and you are able to enjoy a decent cup of coffee and toilets that don’t look like something from the trenches in the First World War, some issues remain. My principle bugbear is parking which whilst plentiful on the site is ridiculously expensive. £30 is a fortune to pay but you are pretty much obliged to take the hit because if there is an event on in the stadium, and let’s face it that is probably why you are there, then the car parks in the high street will limit you to a 2 hour stay. Permit parking pretty much rules out finding a place on the street too. This is all a bit much when you have had to endure the terrible roads to the site.
I appreciate that the idea is to encourage people to use public transport but for many visitors there is no sensible route by rail to Wembley and there certainly isn’t one from where I live. I can drive to Wembley in 40 minutes but leaving the car at home would mean two trains and two changes on the underground all of which would take more than 2 hours.
The Sad Truth
The sad truth is that our national stadium and one of our best concert venues are in the most awkward imaginable place to get to by road and the operators are probably making more money out of the parking than the events. Whilst the area around the venues had been considerably enhanced the rest of Wembley is an unsightly mess which really lets the side down.
Article by Sally Stacey