Sporting Stadia Tours

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The Independent Culture
ALFRED MCALPINE STADIUM

Tours of this dramatic, futuristic stadium can be arranged by appointment on extension 2242. It won the 1995 Riba Award for Building of the Year, and the tour of the home of Huddersfield Town FC and Huddersfield RL is said to be particularly popular with construction and architecture students. Energetic visitors can also use the golf range on site. Stadium Way, Huddersfield HD1 6PG (01484 450000)

ARSENAL STADIUM

The tour which hopes to dispel the tag of "boring Arsenal" includes the dressing rooms (if available) and the Arsenal Museum, situated in the North Bank Stand and said to be attended sometimes by the legendary Charlie George. Fans of Ian Wright's extraordinary new hair-do are warned that the players do not train at Highbury and that they are only likely to meet them if they are in for treatment. Avenell Rd, London N5 1BU (0171- 226 0304)

ASCOT RACECOURSE

Visitors by appointment are shown the various enclosures and explained the difference between the Silver Ring, the Grandstand, the Summer Paddock and the Members'. They also drop in on the commentators' box, the jockeys' changing-room, the main weighing-room, and (if available) the Royal Box. Preposterous hats are not required. Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7JN (01344 876876)

CARDIFF ARMS PARK

Touted as "the place where history is made", the Welsh Rugby Union guided tour offers visits to the pitch, the changing-rooms, the tunnel, the fitness room and the trophy room (probably not too over-stocked at present). The leaflet for the tour also promises, Mystic Meg-like, "plans for the future". PO Box 22, Cardiff CF1 1JL (01222 390111)

CRYSTAL PALACE SPORTS CENTRE

Come to the impressive indoor swimming-pool and the track where Linford Christie has had many of his best British runs (and worn some of his most garish outfits). As well as a guided tour which includes a free swim, you can book additional activities such as squash, badminton, five-a-side football, tennis, netball, volleyball and basketball, or specialised coaching in athletics, football, basketball, diving, hockey, swimming, tennis and trampolining. Upper Norwood, London SE19 2BL (0181-778 9876)

IBROX STADIUM

Visitors will be given a souvenir pack on arrival and then treated to a tour of the Trophy Room. If they have any energy left over, they will be shown round the home dressing room (when available), the players' tunnel, the Club Deck and the Blue Room. True blue fans will be delighted to hear that Rangers crisps and Rangers chocolate are on sale. 150 Edmiston Drive, Glasgow G51 2XD (0141-427 8500)

LORD'S

Tours are held daily at 12noon and 2pm (and 10am on match days). Visitors see the Compton and Edrich Stands, the Indoor School, the Nursery and the Long Room, as well as dropping in on the museum, which houses the original Ashes. It's lucky we don't actually have to send them to Australia every time we lose a series, or we'd never see the wretched things. Marylebone Cricket Club, London NW8 (0171-289 1611)

OLD TRAFFORD

Even before Manchester United won the Premiership last Sunday, this tour was fiendishly popular - have you ever tried getting through on the phone? The visit - which occasionally features glimpses of the players - includes the club museum which now has the gleaming Premiership trophy in pride of place. This still leaves enough time for the bit all parents dread: the tour of the superstore in search of the Ryan Giggs duvet-cover. Manchester M16 ORA (0161-872 1661)

ST ANDREWS

The clubhouse at the famous golf-course is open to the public only on St George's Day every year, but you can visit the British Golf Museum. This traces the history of the game from the first written reference to golf in 1457. It explains why King James II banned the game and why every well-dressed woman golfer once wore the "Miss Higgins Elastic Hoop". In the 480-seat audio-visual theatre, you are given a guided tour of the Old Course by Old Tom Morris. Bruce Embankment, Fife KY16 9AB (01334 478880)

SILVERSTONE

A limited number of small groups keen for a closer look at Brooklands, Maggots Curve and Becketts Corner are shown round this race-track once a week, by appointment with Katie Tyler. Towcester, Northants NN12 8TN (01327 857271)

WEMBLEY STADIUM

One of the more sophisticated commercial operations, this one invites you to "tour the venue of legends". The "unique behind-the-scenes tour" is hosted by Des Lynam who, it adds in brackets, "appears via an audio- visual presentation". You can snoop on the crowd at the Event Control Rooms, take a ride on the Wembley Landtrain and climb the famous 39 steps to the Royal Box where you receive the Cup while the "crowd" roars at you through the PA system. Wembley, Middx HA9 ODW (0181-902 8833)

WIMBLEDON

There is no official tour of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, but you can visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, which has a view over Centre Court. Also housing the Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library, the museum tells the history of lawn tennis - including mock-ups of a Victorian parlour and a garden party - and features a special display on the development of the racket, entitled, with cringe-making predictability, "What a Racket!". Church Rd, London SW19 5AE (0181-946 6131)

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