First sports stadiums appeared in the Soviet Union in the 20th century. World War I prevented them from building a stadium in Kiev in 1914 but in the 1920s they started construction of Red Stadium of Trotsky designed by L. Pilvinsky. On August 12th, 1923 the stadium hosted a sports contest making that date the stadium’s birthday.
“Alive chess”. The photo was taken either in 1923 or in 1929.
In 1924 they rebuilt the stadium’s football field, encircled it with a race course, installed shower stalls and built locker rooms. It was the best stadium in the city. Opening the stadium triggered development of the sports movement in Kiev.
A performance of the athletes, 1933.
The stadium closed in 1933 when a new stadium Dinamo seating 18,000 viewers opened. Kiev needed to have a larger sports arena when the city became the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic so they decided to reconstruct Red Stadium. The new stadium was to seat 50,000 viewers and occupy 800,000 m2. They wanted to make it one of the largest stadiums in the Soviet Union, following those in Moscow and Leningrad.
The new stadium’s project.
Construction works started in 1936 with thousands of workers involved. The stadium featured an administrative building, a hotel and gyms. Lighting and radio systems were installed. Tennis, volleyball and basketball courts were built.
The stadium in the late 30s (maybe in the early 40s).
Its opening ceremony was scheduled for June 22nd, 1941. It was named Republican Stadium of Khrushchev. However, the ceremony was not meant to happen on that day.
This ticket is for a football game that was to take place at the stadium on June 22nd, 1941.
The stadium was hardly recognizable when Kiev was liberated on November 6th, 1943. They never bombed it deliberately though. Retreating fascists took off its gate and fence, windows and doors; they destroyed its water supply and radio systems. That’s why the stadium needed major repairs again. It took them half a year to fix it and the stadium opened on June 25th, 1944 with that very football game that was to take place in 1941. However, just two of those 22 football players were present.
Its central stands on the opening day.
Further reconstructions dragged on for years. In the 50s, they installed a wooden scoreboard and in 1954, they built a colonnade by the western stands. In 1956 they installed four 45-meter metal towers featuring 320 projectors which made it possible to hold games both during the daytime and in the evening. The same year there appeared a more up-to-date scoreboard with electric lights and a clock in the center.
In the background you can see construction of the Palace of Sport.
In 1962 the stadium acquired a new name. It became Central Stadium. The same year they dismantled the old scoreboard to replace it with a new electronic one showing the time the goal was scored and the name of the player who kicked it.
The early 60s.
Another reconstruction of the stadium started in 1966. They planned to build another (upper) level of the stands so the stadium seated 100,000 spectators. They also built a complex for reporters and changed the scoreboard again.
Installation of crossbars for the upper level.
Assembling the upper level.
The stadium after reconstruction.
The third reconstruction involving major repairs started in 1977 (before the Olympics of 1980). They improved the drainage system of the football field, changed its ground and installed an Olympic fire bowl. They replaced the projectors with new 82-meter ones. They also built a bunch of new sports facilities.
Reconstruction works, 1977.
Constructing the fire bowl.
A new ski jump.
By 1980, they returned the stadium its name – Republican stadium.
Grand opening of the football tournament, July 20th, 1980.
Lighting the Olympic fire.
Football teams of the German Democratic Republic and Iraq, July 27th, 1980.
The stadium’s old western stands.
The stadium was renamed into the Olympic National Sports Complex in 1996.
They reconstructed the stadium in the late 90s to make it meet international standards. They installed new individual seats reducing the number of people it may seat to 83,000. They also renewed the surface of the racecourse and the football field.
The sports complex shortly before its latest reconstruction.
They reconstructed the sports complex in 2008 to prepare it for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship. Now Olimpiysky features a new safety system, video surveillance system, new VIP zone, new roof, etc. The sports complex seats 70,000 spectators.
Let us show you the reconstruction step by step.
2008 was the beginning of the reconstruction. They colonnade that had been “reconstructed” into a shopping-business center a few years before the 2008 reconstruction was turned into a hotel.
Dismantling the stands of the lower level.
They dismantled the western stands to build a new VIP zone.
They upclassed the territory greatly.
They built an impressive membrane roof.
Its columns are almost 50 m tall and have a weight of about 50 tons.
Check out this time lapse video featuring installation of its cable system.
The cable system installed.
These “umbrellas” are to let in light and remove water.
This roof is claimed to be able to protect 100% spectators from rain but nothing’s mentioned about what happens where the rain is slanting.
The facade of the new reconstructed Olimpiysky.
Its modern colonnade.
Olimpiysky’s grand opening occurred on October 8th, 2011.
Over 2,000 people performed at the opening ceremony.
Football teams of Ukraine and Germany. November 11th, 2011.
The score stood at three to three.