South East Wales

Champions League final: Cardiff to be at its 'busiest ever'

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Media caption200m will watch Champions League final from Cardiff

Cardiff will be at "its busiest ever" as the Principality Stadium hosts the Champions League final on 3 June.

Up to 170,000 football fans will be travelling to the city for what will be the single-biggest sporting event of 2017.

There will be extensive road closures for safety reasons and to manage the volume of visitors.

About 1,500 officers from across the UK will police the event.

Supt Steve Furnham, the overall lead for planning and safety, spoke at a briefing on Friday and described the final as "unlike anything they have had to deal with before".

He said since Cardiff was announced as hosting the event, "the world has changed dramatically".

"We've all seen the atrocities on mainland Europe in Berlin, Nice, Paris and the terrible events in Westminster two weeks ago," he said.

Supt Furnham said there would be "significant changes" in and around the city, with counter terrorism measures in place and planned.

"There will be a ring of steel, significant road closures to ensure the safety of people," he said.

Image copyright National Stadium of Wales

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said airports, trains and roads will all be at their busiest from as far reaching as London, Birmingham and Gloucester, as well in nearby Bristol, Newport and the Valleys.

Additional train and bus services are being put in place and there will be changes to local public transport services.

The FAW recommends avoiding travelling to Cardiff on 3 June unless the journey is essential.

"If you do need to travel, or are keen to soak in the atmosphere, please note your journey may be longer than usual, so head out early and plan ahead," it said.

The Champions League finalists will not be known until two weeks before the match and, as teams are knocked out, police will adapt their plans.

"It won't be like normal events, like the rugby, 95% will never have been to Cardiff before and, if it's two continental teams, there will be a language barrier as well," added Supt Furnham.

Facts - scale of the event

  • The biggest sporting event to have ever been staged in Wales and the single-biggest sporting event in the World in 2017
  • Live global TV audience of 200 million - twice the TV audience of the Superbowl
  • Broadcast live in 200 countries
  • Expected to generate an economic impact of £45m to Cardiff and the wider region
  • The "Road to Cardiff" brand is promoted to a TV audience of 1.3bn from the Round of 16 phase onwards, with an estimated media value of £15m
  • Cardiff is the smallest city, Wales the smallest country and FAW the smallest host association to have hosted the event
Image copyright Cardiff City Council
Image caption An aerial of the planned Champions Festival

Running alongside the final, a family Champions Festival will be held in Cardiff Bay from 1 to 4 June. The free event is expected to attract more than 200,000 people.

A large stage will be situated in Roald Dahl Plass with a global and local artists, DJs and bands set to perform throughout each day.

A floating pitch will be installed and will host the Ultimate Champions Match on 2 June, featuring legends of the game.

It will also host walking football, refugee teams from Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, a deaf football friendly international, learning disability and youth age groups matches.

The Wales Millennium Centre will host the Champions Gallery from 31 May, which will celebrate Welsh grassroots football and communities as well as the elite level of the game.

Image copyright Cardiff City Council
Image caption The final itself will not be screened live at the festival in Cardiff Bay

A UEFA and FAW legacy pitch will be installed in Grangetown, Cardiff.

The all-weather pitch, which will be free for the local community to use, will be officially opened on 2 June.

It has been gifted to the city to improve "social cohesion, health and wellbeing".

Jonathan Ford, chief executive of the FAW, said: "One of the FAW's key strategic objectives is to attract major football finals to Wales, and to use those finals to inspire increased participation in the sport and the many cultural and health benefits associated with it.

"While many hundreds of millions of people worldwide will watch the men's and women's finals on TV, the people of Wales will have opportunities to engage with and enjoy all the associated events."

The women's Champions League final will be on 1 June at Cardiff City Stadium at 19:45 BST.

The Champions League trophy will travel to Cardiff from the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on 21 April.

Wales football legend Ian Rush and First Minister Carwyn Jones will accompany the trophy on its journey to Wales.

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