History of the Olimpiysky National Sports Complex

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The History of Olimpic National Sports Complex in Kiev, Ukraine stretches back at the start of the 20th century. Located at the foot of city's central Cherepanova Hill in Pechersk Raion it was built right after the Russian Civil War in 1923 after Kiev was finally secured by the Red Army.

Red Stadium[edit]

The predecessor of the contemporary National Arena was the Kiev City Stadium, which with the establishment of the Soviet power was eventually renamed and better known as the Red Stadium. The construction of that stadium in Kiev was considered as early as 1914, when the city was the commercial and cultural center of the Russian Empire's Southwest, and the Empire's third most important city (in some perspective). The plans were scratched during the World War I. In the following years, the city was in turmoil as the wars, revolutions, forces of different states and stateless bands occupied and fought in the city. The Bolshevik government revived the idea as the proposed Red Stadium in 1919, but the resumption of hostilities ended the project prematurely.

As chaos gave way to stability in the early 1920s, while the capital of the Soviet Ukraine was re-established in Kharkov (1919) and Kiev ended up with the status of guberniya center. Construction resumed under the leadership of engineer L. I. Pilvinsky in early 1923, to host the Second All-Ukrainian Spartakiad to be held in August of that year. The chosen site was the former location of the 1913 All-Russian exhibition, the war-ravaged lot of the Oleksiivsky park. For the southern and eastern stand were used the slopes of Cherepanov Mount, while the northern and western stands were constructed from the parts of destroyed and adjacently located buildings. The football field size was 120x70, orienting west to east. The military commissar of the Kiev Governorate Laiozs Gavro sponsored the construction project. The games were opened at the Trotsky Red Stadium on August 12, 1923 (by 1924 the name of Trotsky was omitted). The stadium became the main sport arena in the region and the home ground of FC Lokomotyv Kyiv (Zheldor Kiev).

Republican level of renovation[edit]

Many mistakes were made due to the rushed construction. In particular, the stadium was aligned along an east-west axis instead of the standard north-south. So in 1934 as the Republican administration was moved to Kiev (from Kharkov), the plans were made for the replacement of the stadium, and in 1936 a construction began on the new 50,000-seat stadium designed by architect Mykhailo Hrechyna (1902–1979) called the Ukrainian Republican Stadium. Later Hrechyna organized all the renovations of the stadium until the 1980s. Among other Hrechyna's notable projects were Palace of Sports (located in the vicinity), Komsomolsky residential massif at the Dnipro Raion, Hotel "Rus", a building of the Trade-Industrial Chamber, as well as the hotel "Tarasova Hora" in Kaniv.

The construction started on the adjacent grounds to the Red Stadium. By the Hrechyna's design the stadium was to become one of the best after the Moscow and Leningrad stadiums. The entrance to the stadium was beautified by the Corinthian Order colonnade of 22 columns. However, due to the lack of funding the construction of the colonnade was suspended and never finished. The complex was scheduled for completion in 1941 (see Five-Year Plan) and the ceremonial opening was scheduled for June 22, 1941. It was decided to name the stadium in honor of the first secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Nikita Khrushchev. For that day a game fixture of the Soviet Top League was scheduled on the opening day between Dynamo Kyiv and Red Army team.

However, in a monumental twist of history, on that very day Kiev was bombed by the Luftwaffe as part of the Axis invasion to the Soviet Union, the onset of the Great Patriotic War. The opening ceremony was not canceled, however: a sign hung on the stadium gates optimistically indicated that it was merely "postponed until after the victory". And indeed, following the 1945 Soviet Victory over Nazi Germany, not only was the stadium reconstructed, but tickets issued in 1941 were honored for admittance to an opening ceremony of the Respublikanskiy (Republican) Stadium in 1944.[citation needed]


During the war all events at the stadium were suspended as the front line moved across and away from the city. With the military actions moving farther east, the life in Kiev was more or less stabilized. During that time the stadium was unofficially called the Sport Palace Stadium. On July 12, 1942 the stadium was officially reopened as the All-Ukrainian Stadium.[1]

Upon the liberation of Kiev on November 6, 1943 the stadium was difficult to recognize. During the war it was being avoided from bombardment, however during the retrieve of the German troops the stadium was damaged and some of its features removed and taken away. The stadium needed a major renovation which was taken upon by Khrestchatykbud (later - Kievcitybud-4). With the help of the Kiev residents the stadium conditions were returned to order in half a year.[1]

After the war[edit]

The stadium was re-opened again on June 25, 1944. Symbolically, the first game was between Dynamo Kyiv and CDKA Moscow, the same one that was supposed to take place three years ago. The Kievan club was defeated 0:4, however it did not kill the holiday mood of the event. Here is how the local newspapers were describing it:[1]

The government of the republic and personally Khrushchev requested the architects and builders to bring the stadium to the prewar conditions as well as provide it with the latest improvements. First of all they were to install what was previously intended but not completed, such as the VIP stand, the sport pavilion with a colonnade, fence, etc. Second, the installation of floodlights to conduct football games in the evening hours as well as the installation of a contemporary scoreboard. However, the scoreboard was not installed until 1949 and the match results were demonstrated on plates that were hanged on poles with ladders and were changed along by the stadium servicemen as the game went on. The improvements to the stadium were slowing down due to the lack of investments and the reconstruction stretched for five years until 1949.[1]

Sometime in the beginning of the 1950s a wooden scoreboard finally appeared over the stands of the southern goalpost. The names of teams and the score were depicted in meter-size letters on a 6x3 meters plywood shield, in a metal frame. After every scored goal a stadium serviceman would climb to the top by a special ladder and change the plates on the scoreboard. In summer of 1954 the construction of the stadium main facade, the colonnade with a service entrance to the inside court of an administrative building, was finalized. Those columns became the distinguished landmark of the stadium.[1]

Further improvements[edit]

The main achievement of that time was the installation in 1956 of the four 45-meters metal towers with 320 spotlights with a total brightness of lightning of 500 lux. From that time on the football games in Kiev were possible to conduct in evening. Also in 1956 a more contemporary scoreboard was installed. It had a clock in the middle and was equipped with electric lamps that displayed the result of match by operator command. In October 1962 the stadium changed its name to the Central Stadium. It was at that time that the old scoreboard was replaced with a new electronic one which was bought in Hungary. On April 10, 1963 at the game Dynamo Kyiv - Spartak Moscow the spectators could for the first time see the scoreboard display the result of the match with specifying minutes when the goals were scored and the names of their authors.[1]

As the city boomed in the postwar years and its population approached two million, the stadium underwent its second major reconstruction in the mid-1960s. The renovations were planned to be finished prior to the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution (1967). In 1966–68 the Kiev Central Stadium, as it was then called, was enlarged to accommodate some 100,000 spectators with the addition of a second tier of seating. The design of the reconstruction was organized by the architects of Kievan zonal scientific-research institute of typical and experimental planning and Kievproject headed by Mykhailo Hrechyna. The mounting of the second tier on the original double-console crossbars of reinforced concrete was considered to be the avant-guard practice in stadium construction across the globe. The expanded complex also included indoor tennis courts, two additional football pitches, several outdoor courts and other arenas, and notably a ski jumping ramp of a rather novel suspended design. During that reconstructions the scoreboard was replaced by two new ones with 18x6 meters. One was displaying the time, date, and temperature, while the other one - the names of the teams, the score of game, and names of the goalscorers. Also, a news reporting complex was built. Over the upper tier of the western stand on tall supports several cabins were mounted for commentators.[1]

Olympic preparations[edit]

The new stadium served the city until 1978, when it underwent a new cycle of complete reconstruction to accommodate the 1980 Summer Olympics which was hosted by the Soviet Union. It was renamed, yet again, as the Republican Stadium, a name that would remain for several years after the Collapse of the Soviet Union. It hosted the local ceremony of the Grand Opening of the 1980 Olympics followed by several football matches (the final games were held in the official host city, Moscow).[2]

The nearby Kiev Metro station Respublikanskiy Stadion was opened in late 1984.

Major football events[edit]

1970 FIFA World Cup qualification[edit]

Group 4 (Europe)

October 11, 1969
Soviet Union  3 – 0
Muntian Goal 43', 78'
Nodiya Goal 62'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Referee: Lööw (SWE)

1975 European Super Cup[edit]


October 6, 1975
FC Dynamo Kyiv Soviet Union 2 – 0 Germany FC Bayern Munich
Blokhin Goal 40'53' Report
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 102,000
Referee: Dogan Babacan (Turkey)

Football at the 1980 Summer Olympics[edit]

Group C

July 20, 1980
East Germany  1 – 1  Spain
Kühn Goal 49' Report Marcos Goal 50'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 100,000
Referee: Ulf Eriksson (SWE)

July 22, 1980
East Germany  1 – 0  Algeria
Terletzki Goal 61' Report
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 70,000
Referee: Romualdo Arppi Filho Brazil

July 24, 1980
East Germany  5 – 0  Syria
Hause Goal 6'
Netz Goal 25'45'
Peter Goal 75'
Terletzki Goal 82'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 80,000
Referee: Ulf Eriksson (SWE)
Group D

July 21, 1980
Iraq  3 – 0  Costa Rica
Basheer Goal 45'
Saeed Goal 49'
Hassan Goal 75'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Referee: Nyirenda Chayu Zambia

July 23, 1980
Finland  0 – 0  Iraq
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 40,000
Referee: Ramón Calderón Castro Cuba

July 25, 1980
Finland  3 – 0  Costa Rica
Tissari Goal 18'
Alila Goal 58'
Soini Goal 88'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Referee: Ali Albannai Abdulwahab Kuwait
Quarter final

July 27, 1980
East Germany  4 – 0  Iraq
Schnuphase Goal 4' (pen.)
Netz Goal 11'
Steinbach Goal 17'
Terletzki Goal 22'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Attendance: 48,000
Referee: Romualdo Arppi Filho Brazil

1990 FIFA World Cup qualification[edit]

Group 3 (Europe)

October 19, 1988
Soviet Union  2 – 0  Austria
Mykhailychenko Goal 46'
Zavarov Goal 68'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Referee: Larsson (SWE)

April 26, 1989
Soviet Union  3 – 0  East Germany
Dobrovolsky Goal 3'
Litovchenko Goal 20'
Protasov Goal 40'
Republican Stadium, Kiev
Referee: Hope (SCO)

Recent developments[edit]

After Ukrainian independence in 1991, the stadium was given national status in 1996 and renamed again as the "Olympic" National Sports Complex . Kievans still commonly refer to it as the Tsentralny (Central) or Respublykanskyi stadion (Republican Stadium), and the nearby metro station was also called Respublykanskyi Stadion until 2010 when it was renamed into Olympiyska[3]

In 1997–99 the stadium was reconstructed again in accordance with FIFA guidelines, and its capacity was reduced to 83,450. The stadium continued to be the home ground of Dynamo with the Lobanovsky stadium serving as a training ground. Sometime after 1998 big changes took place as the stadium was not efficient to be kept and maintained. Dynamo decided to reconstruct its Lobanovsky Dynamo Stadium as its primary ground due to the fact that the attendance rarely exceeded 10,000 spectators. Since that time Olympic was used primarily for football international matches and was being lent to FC Dynamo Kyiv for high-profile home games when a high turnout is expected. However, it is not the official home ground of Dynamo or any other Kiev club, as they all have smaller home stadiums and training bases. The stadium is an official home ground of the Ukraine national football team and was the official venue of the Ukrainian Cup final until 2008. Since 2008 Olympic was under a major reconstruction in preparation to the continental championship.

Euro 2012[edit]

On 18 April 2007, Poland and Ukraine were chosen to co-host Euro 2012, the finals of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship,[4] with the Olympic set to host the final.[5] The reconstruction of the stadium involves the demolition and rebuilding of the lower tier, a completely new west stand with a two-level press box (or luxury boxes) between the two tiers, the addition of a 13-story high rise building to the west, and the addition of a new roof covering the entire seating area. The capacity of the stadium after this reconstruction will be 69,004.[1]

On 1 December 2008, reconstruction began when a winner of countless[clarification needed] tenders held was announced. The stadium was reopened on 9 October 2011 with a performance by Shakira and had its international football inauguration with a friendly game between Ukraine and Germany on 11 November 2011. It hosted the final of Euro 2012.

Web cameras[edit]

Top view Side view


External links[edit]

Media related to Olympic National Sports Complex at Wikimedia Commons

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Ernst Happel Stadion
UEFA European Football Championship
Final Venue

Succeeded by
Stade de France