Georgi Asparuhov Stadium
|Former names||Levski Stadium (1963-1990)|
|Operator||PFC Levski Sofia|
|Field size||105 x 68 m|
|Opened||March 10, 1963|
|PFC Levski Sofia (1963–present)|
Georgi Asparuhov Stadium (Stadion Georgi Asparuhov; Bulgarian: Стадион „Георги Аспарухов“), also known as Gerena (Bulgarian: Герена, meaning "the flood plain" or "the marshes"), is a football stadium situated in the Suhata reka neighbourhood of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. It has been the home of PFC Levski Sofia since 1963.
Previous stadiums of Levski Sofia
Levski Sofia have had two other stadiums before the construction of their current stadium. Between 1936 and 1949 the club had its own stadium which was named Igrishte Levski (Levski Football Field; Bulgarian: Игрище „Левски“) situated in the city centre at the place of the current Vasil Levski National Stadium. When the building of the new national stadium started in the early 1950s, Levski Sofia was firstly forced to share the Yunak Stadium, then to use another football field in the Ivan Vazov neighbourhood (at the place of the current Spartak Swimming Complex).
Construction and early years
In the late 1950s the club was granted a site where a new stadium could be built. The construction started in 1960 and the new stadium designed by Lazar Parashkevanov was built in three years. Its official name was Levski Stadium (Stadion Levski; Bulgarian: Стадион „Левски“) but it was called Gerena by the supporters after the name of the neighbourhood in which it was built. The ground was opened on 10 March 1963 when Levski Sofia hosted a Bulgarian championship match against PFC Spartak Pleven, winning 4-0. The stadium then had a grass field with dimensions 110 х 80 m, an athletics track, seating capacity of 38,000 and additional terraces for standing spectators. The main stand of the stadium was covered.
Many reconstructions of the stadium started in 1969 after the unification of the sport and football clubs Levski Sofia and Spartak Sofia. New sport facilities were built inside and around the stadium turning it into a multi-use one hosting other sports events in gymnastics, boxing, weightlifting, volleyball, etc. A training ground with four grass pitches was also built to the east of the stadium.
In 1990 the stadium was renamed after the legendary forward of the club Georgi Asparuhov who died in a car accident in 1971. Today a monument of Georgi Asparuhov is erected next to the official entrance of the main stand.
Conversion to all-seater
In 1992 the whole stadium was closed for a major reconstruction turning the stadium into an all-seater one which would allow it to host international football matches. Levski Sofia moved to play its matches at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. The stadium reconstruction was stopped between 1993 and 1997 because of the economic crisis in Bulgaria. In 1998 a stadium development fund was set up and thousands of Levski Sofia fans donated money and volunteered during the construction works making it possible for the all-seater Georgi Asparuhov Stadium to be officially opened on 5 May 1999 with Levski Sofia hosting PFC Litex Lovech in a title-decisive championship match which unfortunately for the club ended 0-0. The athletics track was removed which enabled the dimensions of the field to be expanded. With all stands converted to all-seater ones, the capacity of the stadium was reduced to 29,500 seats.
In 2006 a new scoreboard was installed in a frame with the shape of the Cyrillic letter L (Л) which is the symbol of Levski Sofia. At the end of 2007 the grass surface was replaced and new sprinkler, drainage and heating systems were installed.
In 2011 plans for reconstructing the stands emerged. Between February and May 2011 the visiting stand 'G' was refurbished following vandalism in the Sofia derby. During the summer break of 2011, a similar refurbishment was done to the south stand or stand 'B'. Further plans include reconstruction of stand 'V' after which the central stand A would be demolished and newly constructed.
In December 2012 the club presented plans for rebuilding the stadium. This would be done in three stages starting with stand 'A'. The estimated capacity of the stadium after full reconstruction is between 28 000 and 30 000.
In February 2013 the west stand or stand 'A' was demolished. Construction of a new stand started on 5 July 2013. The stand is set to be finished for Levski's 100th anniversary in May 2014. The new stand will be the main stand for the stadium, featuring team parking, dressing rooms, media facilities and seats, VIP areas, TV camera facilities etc. The capacity of the new stand will be 6000.
Levski officials have announced that the other stands will also be rebuilt as finances are gathered.
The stadium's record attendance is 60,000 and it was achieved twice: on 4 March 1970 when Levski Sofia played against the Polish side Gornik Zabrze in an European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final and in an A Group game during the 1973/1974 season against Pirin Blagoevgrad which is the unofficial stadium record attendance in the Bulgarian championship.
Georgi Asparuhov Stadium technical data:
- Capacity: 18000
- Journalists’ box: 130 seats
- Field dimensions: 105 m x 68 m
- Floodlight: 1500 lx
|29 May 2011||Roxette|
|7 June 2011||Sting|
- "The Stadium". PFC Levski Sofia Official Website. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Manov, Georgi (1999). 85 Years Levski - Encyclopedia Reference Book 1914-1999 (85 години "Левски" - енциклопедичен справочник 1914-1999). Sofia: RIK Levski (РИК Левски).
- "Взривиха сектор "Г" на "Герена"". Topsport.bg. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
- "Ремонтът на "Георги Аспарухов" ще струва 1,5 млн. евро". Topsport.bg. Retrieved 4 May 2009.