Copper Box Arena venue guide

Information to help plan your trip to see a basketball game at the Copper Box Arena, home of the London Lions in the BBL.

? Address ∙ ? The venue ∙ ? Seating ∙ ? Tickets ∙ ? Food and drink ∙ ? Entertainment ∙ ? Public transport ∙ ? By car ∙ ? Parking ∙ ? Accommodation ∙ ? Previous visits

? Address

Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3HB

? The venue

The Copper Box Arena was built at a cost of £44m in time for the London 2012 Olympics, where it hosted handball, modern pentathlon and Paralympic goalball. (Basketball was played at a larger, temporary arena.) It now offers sports facilities to the public including a gym, and a free kids’ basketball club with Lions coach Laurent Irish and captain Joe Ikhinmwin.

A full house saw London Lions’ first game at their new home on 14th August 2013 – a 72-107 exhibition match defeat to Iowa University. That followed a year at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, before which the team played in various venues in Hemel, Watford and Milton Keynes.

Now in a fifth season at ‘the box that rocks’, teething problems have generally been resolved, and attendees can expect a modern-standard indoor sports venue.

It’s part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is where you’ll also find the imaginatively renamed London Stadium, now repurposed and rebranded for West Ham United’s benefit. The ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture, has also undergone a transformation since the Olympics and now doubles up as the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide. You can pay either to take in panoramic views of London or to ride the 178-metre slide. The park is open to the public, and also contains the Aquatics Centre, waterways, playgrounds, food concessions, The Podium Bar & Kitchen and Timber Lodge cafe; worth walking through on your way from the station/Westfield. Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre and VeloPark are over the road. A map of the park is available.

? Seating

Capacity: 6,000. The lower tier comprises 2,047 seats plus 699 on the concourse, which includes 68 suitable for wheelchairs. The 3,254-capacity upper tier is not normally opened.

Standard flip-down seats on all four sides of the court (though on occasions of low attendances some of the seating is retracted). As you enter the arena, blocks 103 and 104 to the left (behind the team benches and officials’ desk) are reserved for season ticket holders. Fans who bought tickets through the visiting team are usually seated behind their team’s bench in block 103.

? Tickets

London Lions home game tickets are sold online through Ticketmaster. Tickets bought at the venue cost more and can only be paid for in cash. (Note: there is no ATM.) The ticket desk is found just inside the entrance (not the main reception downstairs). Tickets cost more for a side view than behind the baskets, but all offer excellent sightlines. Packages are available as standard if you’re attending as a family, birthday celebration, school or group, and courtside seats are also available to individuals (through Ticketmaster) or parties. Special offers are often available through the club’s social media channels and Groupon. If you know a Lions season ticket holder, they’re also able to acquire tickets for friends at special rates through Ticketmaster.

? Food and drink

Concessions are available on each of the concourses running alongside the court. They’ve traditionally sold hot dogs and nachos but have since added burgers and a chilli dog to the offering. Carlsberg and Guinness are irregularly available on draught; mine’s a pint, Zaire! Bottled lagers (Carlsberg, Stella Artois), Magners cider, wine, spirits and soft drinks are always available. All drinks can be enjoyed at your seat, unlike for a football match. Snacks including sweets, crisps and popcorn can be found. Expect the quality, prices, service and queues to be typical of modern day entertainment venues. Card payments are taken on some tills, but check which queue you’re in as some only take cash. On occasion, cart stands for draught Carlsberg and hot dogs are set up, which cut down the queues drastically.

Far greater choice is available at The Westfield shopping mall, half a mile’s walk away. Restaurants can be found on ‘The Street’ outside; personal favourites include New York burger bar Shake Shack, where you’ll often find the players after the game, and Busaba Eathai (get the calamari). Food courts are also available inside, including a Franco Manca sourdough pizzeria on the top floor which is worth checking out if it’s anything like its other London outlets, along with ‘market’ eateries downstairs and coffee shops including Pret A Manger, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee and Starbucks. Cafeterias can be found inside John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. There’s also a Waitrose supermarket.

The Westfield has a number of bars. In unlikely environs, Tap East at the Waitrose end of the lower ground floor by Stratford International is a microbrewery which sells domestic and world beers, ranging greatly in variety and price. The Cow, run by Geronimo Inns who have around 25 premises around London and describe themselves as ‘not a chain’, is on Chestnut Plaza outside. It certainly has the feel of a chain ‘gastropub’ and is on the expensive side. It has a couple of TVs showing live sport, as does Cafe Football a couple of doors down. Bat & Ball on The Street accurately describes itself as the Westfield’s ‘largest and liveliest bar’, with two floors, TVs, table tennis parties, and beer pong for those who require instruction to drink. It does also have a good offering of beers, cocktails and pizza.

You can also get a drink in All Star Lanes, Shake Shack sells its own ShackMeister Ale, go to the champagne bar, and of course the restaurants are also licensed.

Neighbourhood, a poorly thought out vacuum of a bar, and Sainsbury’s Local are just 100 yards from Stratford International along Celebration Avenue.

Here East is difficult to miss to the right of the Copper Box as you approach from Stratford. What’s there is more easily missed, but there are in fact a number of hipster bars and food joints including Four Quarters arcade bar, Mason & Company craft beer bar, Randy’s Wing Bar and The Breakfast Club.

Over the river behind the Copper Box are a number of other bars alongside Hackney Wick station. Two bridges provide access to the venue. On one side of the tracks over the footbridge (with lift available) is the trendy Number 90 bar and restaurant (commonly referred to as ‘Bar 90’) and Grow, an ethical bar, kitchen and creative space with Slow Fire London in residence. On the other side, also accessible via White Post Lane and Clarnico Lane, find Crate Brewery & Pizzeria and Howling Hops brewery and tank bar, which also sells meaty Billy Smokes food.

Hot dog it is, then?

? Izzy’s vegan choice: The Pad Thai Jay at Busaba Eathai is a personal favourite, but their menu is very limited in other vegan options. Crate Brewery makes a tasty vegan pizza (no cheese) on request. Both places also cater for meat eaters and vegetarians. For other suggestions, visit HappyCow or download their app. ??

? Entertainment

Cheerleaders and mascot Louis the Lion are normally at every game. Guest singers often perform, including the BBL’s only pre-match national anthem, as do guest dancers on occasion. Irregular basketball-themed games take place on court. The announcer giving commentary on the game is usually Vince Macaulay, the owner and chief executive of Lions, who many find entertaining! You might find raffle tickets being sold, and there’s a merchandise stand behind blocks 101/114 selling this season’s replica home jerseys and a small selection of other London Lions and NBA merchandise.


Louis the Lion and the London Lionesses. Photo © Graham Hodges

? Public transport

Stratford station is on the Central and Jubilee lines, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and the Overground in Zone 2/3 (which means if you’re travelling via central London, you get charged as per Zone 2, while if you’re travelling via further out zones, you get charged as per Zone 3. It works out cheaper, essentially.)

‘You can’t travel in London without an Oyster card!’ (*Or contactless credit/debit card. Or a paper travelcard. You can’t pass through paying in cash, anyway.)

It’s also a National Rail and TfL Rail station.

As you exit the station you’re immediately at the eastern entrance to the Westfield. Just beyond that are steps up to a bridge that takes you to The Street; highly recommended if you want to avoid the always-crammed shopping centre. Alternatively, take a right onto Montfichet Road and then another right onto Westfield Avenue to avoid the Westfield altogether.

Stratford International, which doesn’t actually serve any international destinations, also serves DLR (in Zone 2/3) and National Rail and TfL Rail trains.

Bus stations at Stratford City, Stratford and Stratford International are all within walking distance. Check live arrivals online.

Use TfL’s Journey Planner to find the best routes.

There is more detailed information on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Westfield websites for all modes of transport.

? By car

Sat nav reference: E20 3HB

? Parking

The Copper Box’s own car park is reserved. The Westfield car park (E20 1EJ or E15 2EE for older sat nav devices) has 4,500 spaces, costing £9.50 for 24-hour parking on a weekend. Car Park A closes at 10pm; Car Park B is open 24/7.

? Accommodation

There are six hotels nearby: Holiday Inn Stratford CityMarlin StratfordStaybridge SuitesThe Westbridge HotelPremier Inn StratfordHoliday Inn Express Stratford.

? Previous visits

  1. Sun 02/02/2014: London Lions 73 – 82 Worcester Wolves (BBL Trophy 1st Round)

…and then some 70+ more Lions and GB games over the following three years!

I strive to offer useful information based on past personal experience and secondary sources. All information is given in best faith and I hope is as accurate as possible for you to plan and enjoy your day. Please let me know of any corrections or other suggestions.