A cosmopolitan venue

4th December 2013

The Liberty Stadium is fast becoming one of the most cosmopolitan sporting venues in the United Kingdom - if not the whole of Europe.
There can't be many sports grounds around the country that week in week out attract such a diverse range of sporting visitors from around the continent and sometimes the globe.
Ever since it opened back in 2005, the Liberty has welcomed teams and fans from far and wide.
Between the Swans, the Ospreys rugby team and the various Welsh international football and rugby teams, the stadium has played host to visitors from all over the world.
Who could have imagined a decade ago, when the Swans were playing at the Vetch, and the Ospreys rugby region were alternating between Swansea's St Helen's and the Gnoll in Neath, that they would today share such a fantastic stadium which is gaining a global reputation.
The Ospreys' involvement in two competitions, which have participants from multiple countries, has always ensured a mixed bag of visitors.
The Celtic League in its various guises has meant the Welsh, Scots, Irish and latterly Italians are regulars, while the Heineken Cup has stretched their horizons to England and France.
There have also been visitors from further afield thanks to touring and friendly matches against the likes of Russia and Australia, while the hosting of the Under-20s World Cup saw Japan play in a group match here and New Zealand appear in the final.
Up until this season, the footballing visitors tended to have more familiar accents from the English League pyramid.
Although Wales have played some football internationals here against the likes of Slovenia, Georgia, Austria, Croatia and Bulgaria.
But it's since the Swans reached the Europa League, that the foreign fixtures have been flowing fast and furious on an almost weekly basis.
In the space of less than a month, between rugby and football fixtures, the Liberty hosted teams from Russia, England, Wales, Italy, Spain and Scotland in consecutive games.
Between November 7 and November 29, the Liberty's visitors' book boasted a guest list of: Kuban Krasnodar, of Russia; Stoke City; Cardiff Blues; Zebre, of Italy; Valencia, of Spain and Glasgow Warriors.
Earlier in the season, the stadium had also hosted visitors from Sweden, Romania and Switzerland. The day after tomorrow, the rugby players of Castres in France arrive for a European Cup match.
I've tried to think of another British venue that could have hosted such a diverse range of visitors, in such a short time, but I can't.
The Liberty Stadium's uniqueness in hosting a top flight football team and a top flight rugby team on a weekly basis sets it apart from any other stadium in Britain.
Last November the stadium hosted what must have been a unique European double.
On Saturday, November 3, the Swans hosted  Champions League holders Chelsea in a Premier League match which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Then, around 23 hours after the Swans match finished, the Ospreys hosted rugby union's Heineken Cup champions Leinster on the Sunday afternoon in a league match which the home side won 19-10.
What other stadium could boast hosting Europe's rugby and football champions within 24 hours of each other?
In fact, outside of hosting a major international tournament, I'd be hard pushed to think of another venue in the world which could boast a weekly visitors' list to compare with the Liberty. 
If any of the stewards at the Liberty, especially the ones that staff the away end at the football matches, are looking for a new career in future, can I suggest the United Nations?
These guys and girls could certainly teach Ban Ki-moon and Co a thing or two about international relations.
One week they could be looking after a few dozen Russian football fans, the next a few hundred rowdy Irish rugby supporters and the next a couple of thousand Manchester United followers - who knows where they may have come from! 
And tonight the stewards will be welcoming yet another different nation - the loyal and passionate citizens of the Geordie Nation!
As well as developing a reputation as a fantastic sporting venue, with a pitch that is second to none, the stadium has also hosted some of the biggest names in the music world.
Legends like Elton John, Rod Stewart and the Who have performed concerts at the Liberty, attracting a whole different type of fan to the stadium.
Talking of singing, the stadium may be small, but it's also got to be one of the most atmospheric in the Premier League when Hymns and Arias starts echoing around the stands.
Of course, attracting all these visitors from around the globe has got to be good for Swansea itself, which is building on its already established heritage as a sporting city on the international stage.
Next year the city will welcome Paralympic athletes from all over the continent when it hosts the European Paralympics Championships.
And the city doesn't just benefit from those people who visit the stadium in person. The figures for the television audiences watching Swans matches here are truly mind boggling.
Across the globe the Barclays Premier League continues to be the most watched football league in the world.
The Premier League is broadcast in 212 territories around the world, working with 80 different broadcasters.
The TV audience for Premier League games is 4.7bn, and the number of homes reached last season increased 11 per cent to 643m. In total, the League clocked up 185,000 hours of TV coverage in 2010/11, an increase of 65 per cent on the previous campaign. 
How much would it cost the city to buy the kind of exposure it gets from being in the Premier League?
The Liberty, may not yet be as famous a name as the home of today's visitors, but considering its only been open for just over eight years it isn't doing to badly.
Hopefully the visitors from the latest nation to visit the stadium this season will enjoy the hospitality and facilities, but not a win, during tonight's match!
Come on you Swans!