By Tom Stewart
The two best teams will battle it out in the final of the Sussex Senior Cup on Saturday July 16.
Excitement is building among Albion fans as the long-awaited opening of the £93m stadium edges ever closer.
Thirteen years, two soul-destroying seasons at Gillingham, and many a public enquiry later, Albion fans will soon get the chance to watch their team play at a stadium worthy of its recent performances.
As with any new stadium, a series of “ramp up events” will take place before the stadium officially opens for the 2011/12 season.
The Amex will host a series of events, each with an increasing capacity ranging from 10,000 to 23,000, to prove the new ground has the ability to handle large crowds.
There continues to be much speculation among Albion fans about what these events might include, with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City mentioned as possible pre-season friendly opponents for the Brighton side.
As the first event will be limited to a capacity of 10,000, it had to remain a strictly local affair. But Brighton and Hove Albion Life-President, Dick Knight, is delighted at the prospect of opening the stadium with the Sussex Senior Cup Final.
He said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for a group of players who may never go pro to look back on their career and say they played in the first-ever game at one of the most iconic stadiums in the country.”
The opening match will have a traditional 3:00pm kick-off, and ticket prices will be kept the same as at the competition’s previous home in Eastbourne.
The club is happy to have the Sussex FA on board, as its involvement in the event was doubtful at one point.
Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive, Martin Perry, said: “I am delighted the Sussex County FA and its member clubs have seen the enormous benefit of the final being the first historic fixture at the Amex.
“For the teams still in the competition, it is sure to provide an extra incentive to reach the final.
“For the Albion, it gives us an ideal ramp-up event – ahead of our own flagship friendly – which will be the official opening and that long-awaited first league game next August.”
For further details and ticketing information go to www.sussexfa.com