Great history of NSC "Olimpiyskiy"

Today, when NSC "Olympiyskiy" has turned 94 years old, let's recall the brightest moments of the history of major sports and cultural arena of the country!

In the very center of Kyiv, at the bottom of the Cherepanova Hill, there is the place where one of the biggest clusters of sports facilities in Europe is located.  Since 1996 it has the name of National Sports Complex “Olympiyskiy”. It's heart is a large sports arena which comprises a football pitch, athletic tracks and two-tier stands for spectators.

The date of birth of the stadium is August 12, 1923 when the Red Stadium named after L. Trotsky hosted the first  events of the First Kyiv Region Olympiad. The design of the stadium was developed by the young  engineer L.V. Pilvinskiy.  The  slopes of the Cherepanova Hill were used to construct the southern and eastern stands, and the molded debris of buildings construed the northern and western stands.

The Hungarian politician-internationalist Lajos Gavro, who was the Military Commissar of Kyiv Province in 1924, paid special attention to the building of the stadium. It was he who showed initiative to create the Red stadium. And thanks to Gavro the building activity began.

The name “The Red Stadium n.a. Trotsky L.” was determined according to revolution traditions of those times. For many years red color dominated in names of many buildings. The name of Trotsky L. (Trotsky (Bronstein) Lev Davidovich – national commissioner of military and see forces of USSR, in 1926 year he was excluded from the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks for party revisionism, and at the end of 1927 year he was excluded from Central Committee, ordered out of USSR and murdered abroad) was mentioned in name of the stadium in 1923 year only.

In 1924 year a football field with dimensions of 120х70 meters with orientation west-east on the stadium was partially constructed. Race tracks were equipped around exterior perimeter of the field, also locker rooms and shower rooms were built.

Most matches for city championship conducted on the Red Stadium from 1925 year. Here the legendary Kievan “Zheldor” celebrated its wins, “Zheldor” in which played the best Kievan footballers as Yamkoviy, Vesenjev, Tovarovskiy, Bardadim, Shevtsov, Boyko, Dolgov and Fenhel, and a little bit later – Goncharenko, Sviridovskiy, Potalov etc.

Іn 1928 at the celebration of the Athlete´s day at the Red Stadium 2000 athletes of their bodies have formed and demonstrated the great pyramid in the form of a bright five-pointed star.

It was the Red Stadium that started the mass sport activity in Kiev from the beginning of its existence. Mastership of players of those times has been forming here, main and principle competitions were held also. It was the best football arena in the city at that time, so only on the Red Stadium most important Kiev Championship matches were held before opening the Dynamo Stadium. Also international competitions between Kiev team and Lower Austrian working team in 1927 – 1929 years and between Kiev team and England working sports association in 1927 year were held. At that times Kiev Dynamo players met their competitors from another cities on this field, and also the first international match between Dynamo and Lower Austrian working team was held (1929 year – 3:4).

In 1934 year when Kiev became the capital of Ukrainian SSR, a question about building the bigger sports arena appeared, which could meet the higher requirements for physical culture and sports in USSR.

In 1935 year a competition on “rising” the level of the Red Stadium was announced, and a project of one young architect Mikhaylo Grechina became the winner, it was named “Ukrainian Republic Stadium”. By the way almost all changes and reconstructions of the stadium were gone by the name of the famous Ukrainian architect. During next half a year he has been treating his offspring.

According to the project of general Kiev reconstruction, the constructing of the stadium was planned on the large territory, which bordered with the Red Stadium. The project included the stands for 50 thousand spectators’ seats. A huge “Physical Culture Plant” of republican significance supposed to be constructed, the sports arena of which could become one of the biggest in USSR – after stadiums in Moscow and Leningrad. The Kiev newspaper “The Proletarian Truth” wrote on 20.06.35:

“A new republic stadium in area 80 ha is designing on the base of the present Red Stadium. It will be majestic plant of physical culture…The building starts in 1936 year… ”

The opening of new stadium did not enable to hold competitions on the old arena.   Excavators, tractors, cranes started their work on the Red Stadium. Cubic meters of ground was excavated, engineering machines were delivered. If eastern stands followed the relief of a Hill, and western stands were artificial and they had administrative complex, which included government stand, a hotel, gyms and back regions. Dozens of thousands Kievans were working on the stadium construction. It became national. After 5 years of stadium building finally appeared a football arena with stands for spectators, gym  pavilion with locker rooms, justicing-rooms and hospital rooms against the background of green park, Cherepanova and Hospitalna Hills. Wide big and red granitical stairs leaded to stands. Lighting and radio broadcast systems were assembled according to specifications of those times. A wide alley, planted by maples, surrounded all 36 sectors of the stadium. Volleyball, tennis, basketball and “gorodki” (name of Russian sports game) areas were built at the bottom of Cherepanova Hill. There also were altanas a little bit uphill.

A big piazza of 22 colonuses of Corinthian order supposed to ornament  the main entrance to the stadium. Such colonuses have been already used by Kievan architects in designing pavilions of All-Russian industrial exhibition. But unfortunately the piazza and interior court were not finished. And it was that place where they had to construct temporary entrance from the side of Anri Barbyusa str. Because of lack of money they also had to refuse from monumental fence.

The second formal opening of completely  reconstructed stadium  that was named – Republic Stadium n.a. M.S. Khrushchov (Mikita Sergiyovich Khrushchov was the first secretary of Communistic Party (b) Central Committee of Ukraine, later the CPSU Central Committee, and in 1964 year he was displaced) was planned on 22nd of June 1941 year. Kievan Dynamo prepared for the match with the team of Red Army from Moscow on 22nd June. The newspaper “The Proletarian Truth” wrote on 21 of June: “Tomorrow the biggest physical training building opens in Kiev, Ukraine – Republic stadium n.a. M.S. Khrushchov…The new stadium is able to serve 70 thousands spectators simultaneously. An elliptic football field with international size is observing like a green carpet, surrounded with 36 sectors with 50 thousands places….” A slender colonnade rises from the side of Anri Barbyusa str. It is a temporary entrance to the stadium… According to the government USSR decision the republic stadium along with existed Palace of physical training and winter swimming-pool will create a singular sports complex – a center of sports-educational activity".

Bright posters invited the Kievans for the park-stadium opening. Tickets for a match has already been purchasable. But exactly that day in the morning on 22 of June 1941 year a war started. German Army crossed the border of USSR, Kiev was strucked by fascist bombs, and certainly neither football match nor the opening of the stadium took place. Nobody turned back bought tickets. They were announced functional till better times.

Troops of conquerors penetrated Kiev on 19th of September 1941 year. The citizens got under repressions, a new occupational order was introduced.

All the footballers that left in the city had to fight for their lives. A famous Kievan footballer of “Zheldor” G. Shvetsov, who accepted a new regime and treated it loyally, on his own initiative created a sports association “Ruh” for sportsmen who admitted a new regime. Shvetsov became an on-the-field coach of this association football team. It was the Republic Stadium on which the “Ruh” held all its matches. The stadium at the beginning had an informal name of the stadium of Sports Palace among newspapers and citizens and later it was renamed for the All Ukrainian Stadium by the decision of the mayor who was suggested by Shvetsov.

During the occupation officially the stadium was opened on 12 of July 1942 year. “With the kind permittion of the Stadtcommissariat and with the help of City Council sportive town-living of Kiev is recovered.

Given for trainings the stadium for Sports Palace (V.Vasilkivska) is the center of agile sports activity on Tuesdays and Fridays…

Footballers were the first who started their competitions…
All amateurs have a chance to see the first opened competitions of football teams of the “Ruh” – Bread Plant which takes place on the stadium of Sports Palace on Sunday the 7th of June at 5:30 PM”.

Shvetsov. (From the newspaper “The new Ukrainain Word” Kiev, 06.06.1942 year.)  

“The opening of this gorgeous and huge stadium almost for 60 000 spectators was planned on 22nd of June 1941 year. Each citizen ofSoviet Union remembers this date, which obviously will make the history of humanity… But neither the match nor celebration was held and they had to postpone it for unpredictable period of time because of the reason that everybody knows. And now more then 1 year later on 12 of July the Ukrainian stadium was finally opened. Good sunny weather helped the celebration and 15 000 people gathered among which there were a lot of German and other Union armies’ representatives…                
The opening ceremony of Ukrainian stadium in Kiev finished with an interesting match between the team of sports association “Ruh” and one of the German parts of “D.V.” team. The Ukrainian team winning finished the match…

R.D. (From the newspaper "The new Ukrainian Word", Kiev, 15.07.42 year)

The stadium was hardly recognized after releasing from fascist invaders on 6th of November 1943 year. During the War it was not bombarded intentionally neither by ours nor by Germans. Although separate projectiles happened to hit. Furthermore there “lodged” our troops and Germans once on the stadium.  During the occupation there was a German garage in the central pavilion. And when drawing in the conquerors took a fishnet entrance gate and fence, windows and doors, destroyed water supply, lighting, radio broadcast etc. So, the stadium should be reconstructed. This charge was taken by workers of business organizations “Khreshchatik” (later – “Kievmiskbud-4”). With the citizens’ help the stadium was almost recovered after half a year.

On 25th of June 1944 year it was opened. This day the match between “Dynamo” and CBCA (Moscow) was held, that has not been held on  22nd of 1941 year. Unfortunately the Kievans lost with the score 0:4.
“The Committee in matter of physical culture and sports under the Soviet of national commissioners: On Sunday, the 24th of June a great sports event will take place, the celebration of Republic stadium n.a. M.S. Khrushchov opening ceremony”.      
On the programme:
1. Rhythmical-sportive gymnastics demonstrations of volunteer sportive associations and educational institutions from Kiev.
2. Demonstrations of masters of sports on gymnastics, track and field and barbell lifting.
3. Football match CBCA (Moscow) – Dynamo (Kiev).
The entrance to the stadium: from the side of  Chervonoarmiyska str. and Prorizna str.

The celebration starts at 5:00 PM    
The ticket cost is 5 RUB. Previous ticket purchasing in “Dynamo” shops, Stadium booking offices, central theatre booking offices. (From “Soviet Ukraine”, Kiev, 24.06.1944 year).

The management of Republic and M.S. Khrushchov personally put a concrete task before architects and builders regarding making the construction equal to pre-war projects and with obligatory rework, first of all of what has not been done at the proper time (government stand, sports pavilion with the colonnade, a fence etc), secondly making decision regarding lighting for football field for holding matches at night and set up of a modern scoreboard. Till 1949 year there was no scoreboard, and the results of a match were demonstrated with the help of tablets, that were hang up on a mast with ladders which served for stadium workers lifting in order to change tablets in a process of a match.

Repairing works and development of the stadium were retarded due to lack of large investments. It was really difficult post-war times. That’s why the first reconstruction was longing for 5 years, and the stadium was opened only in 1949 year. The newspaper “The Kievan Truth” wrote on 07.09.49 year: “…A football field is already ready. Its surface is sown by permanent grasses. Additional rooms for footballers constructed, such as locker rooms and shower rooms. A good running track was equipped around a football field – one of the best in country.  Its width is 10 meters. The stands count about 38 sectors , which include 47756 seating places… From now all football championship matches of USSR the Kievans may see  on the stadium named after Khrushchov. On 8th and 9th of September the teams of first group will meet here: Kievan Dynamo will play with Kharkivan “Lokomotyv”.

A wooden scoreboard finally appeared over southern (“cherepanivski”) gates of stands at the beginning of 50th years. Names of teams and 1 meter diameter figures of score were put on a plywood panel with dimensions of 6x3 meters in metal frame. A stadium worker went up a special ladder and changed the tablets on a scoreboard after each goal.

In 1954 year constructing of the main stadium facade – a colonnade with service entrance into interior court of administrative bulk was finished. This colonnade became a stadium “business card”.

But the main achievement then was the installation of 4 metal towers of 45 meters high with projectors of total brightness of light 500 lux in 1956 year.

Since that time football matches in Kiev could be held at night. Also in 1956 year a new modern scoreboard appeared on the stadium, it had a clock in the middle; it was equipped with light bulbs which lighted a score of a match on a signal of an operator.

In October of 1962 year the name of Republic stadium n.a. M.S. Khrushchov was changed to the Central stadium. Just at the end of that year an old scoreboard was disassembled and installation of a new electrical one that was bought in Hungary was started. On October the 10th of 1963 year during the match between “Dynamo” (Kiev) and “Spartak” (Moscow) for the first time spectators had a chance to see a score on a board with minutes marked , on which goals were made and the names of goals authors.

The second general reconstruction of the stadium was started in 1966 year. They planned to renovate the stadium before 50 years of Russian revolution celebration (1967 year).

The project of reconstruction was created by architects of the regional institute for scientific research of typical and experimental engineering, and also by Kievproject (M.I. Grechina – works supervisor, G.I. Granatkin, A.M. Anishchenko and M.L. Gubov). The base of the project was construction of the second circle of stands, assembled on original reinforced-concrete double-console cross-beams firstly in the world practice. Double-circle stands of the stadium was sized for 100062 places.

Also, according to this project finally a reportorial complex over lower circle of western stands was constructed, where commentator cabins on high bearings were assembled, and jumping ski hill was constructed. 2 new electronic scoreboards of 18x6 meters size were installed: the left one showed time, date and temperature, the right one – names of teams, match score and goals authors.

For the third time the capital repairs and important reconstruction of the Central stadium began in 1977 year due to decision to involve the capital of Ukraine in XXII summer Olympic Games football tournament in 1980 year. First of all a football field for matches of such level had to be prepared, that’s why drainage system was refined and the ground was completely substituted and sown by grass. A cup for Olympic flame was installed on original bays on the eastern stand. Also four light supports of 82 meters high were installed. There were 132 lamps each on 3,5 kW. Just during of this reconstruction two more football fields, discus throwing, shot-putting and hammer throwing courts, a new unique ski hill with cable-stayed system were constructed.

The stadium took back its historical name – Republic before Olympic football tournament in 1980 year. During 20-27 of July the football matches of Olympic Games’ participants took place on the stadium – there were teams of Algeria, Iraq, Spain, Costa Rica, German Democratic Republic, Syria and Finland.

In 1996 year the stadium took a name that it deserved for a long time – the National sports complex ''Olympiyskiy''. This status is confirmed by Ukrainian President Decree. During the reconstruction in 1998 year by means of individual seats installing the capacity of the stadium decreased to 83 thousands.

Recent reconstruction of the sports complex Olimpiyskiy took start in August of 2008 year within preparing and holding the final part of Europe Football Championship in 2012 in Ukraine. The reconstructed arena was opened on 8th of October, 2011.

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