Prague, Czech Republic
|Capacity||220,000 56,000 seated|
|Field size||9 football pitches
(total 310.5 x 202.5 m)
|AC Sparta Prague (training only)|
The Great Strahov Stadium (Czech: Velký strahovský stadion) is a stadium in the Strahov district of Prague, Czech Republic. It was built for displays of synchronized gymnastics on a massive scale, with a field three times longer and three times wider than the standard Association football pitch.
Today, it is no longer in use for competitive sports events; it is a training centre for Sparta Prague, and is used to host pop concerts. The stadium is sited on Petřín hill overlooking the old city. It can be accessed by taking the Petřín funicular up the hill through the gardens.
Construction began based on plans by the architect Alois Dryák, on a wooden stadium in 1926, which was replaced by concrete grandstands in 1932. Further construction occurred in 1948 and 1975. The playing field, surrounded by seating on all sides, is 63,500 square metres.
The stadium currently serves Sparta Prague as a training centre with 8 football pitches (6 pitches of standard sizes and 2 futsal pitches).
The original stadium dates from the First Republic between the World Wars and served as a venue for popular Sokol displays of massive synchronized gymnastics. The Sokol displays were renamed Spartakiáda during the communist era, referring to the power and strength of the slave uprising led by Spartacus..
Performances with several hundred gymnasts making various complex formations and exercising identically while accompanied by tunes from traditional folk music attracted the attention of many visitors. Some of the most popular shows were those of young well-trained recruits who wore only boxer shorts while on the display or women dancing in miniskirts. The groups of volunteer gymnasts (unlike the soldiers, who were ordered to practise and participate) were put together from keen local athletic association members who regularly trained for the show throughout the year prior to the event, which repeated every five years.
Motor racing also took place in the stadium in the mid-1960s.
A few days after the end of World War II (a few months after the end of hostilities in Europe), two units of the United States Army played a friendly match of American football. On September 28, 1945, a crowd of 40,000 watched soldier-athletes of the 94th Infantry Division defeat a team from the XXII Corps, by a score of 6-0.
Since 1990, the stadium has been used for concerts.
- The Rolling Stones - Aug 18, 1990 & Aug 5, 1995 (attendance 100,000 & 127,000 respectively)
- Guns N' Roses - May 20, 1992 (attendance 60,000)
- Bon Jovi - Sept 4, 1993
- Aerosmith - May 27, 1994 (attendance 30,000) -
- Pink Floyd - Sept 7, 1994 - (official attendance 110,000, but eventually another estimated 10,000 people snuck in or pushed into the venue)
- Bratři Nedvědové - June 21, 1996 (attendance 60,000)
- U2 - Aug 14, 1997 - (attendance approx. 62 000)
- AC/DC, with Rammstein - June 12, 2001 - (attendance 25,000)
- Ozzfest - May 30, 2002 - (attendance 30,000)
- George Michael - June 2, 2007
The future of the stadium
In the last decade several studies have looked at adaptive reuse and preservation of this unique structure. There are plans to convert the mammoth Strahov stadium complex into a commercial zone complete with hotels, restaurants and shops. Another suggestion is to convert the area into a "leisure mecca for the 21st century". There are also plans to rebuild the area as an Olympic village if Prague wins a future Olympic bid; bidding for 2016 was unsuccessful.
- Satter, Andrew (11 December 2003). "Rethinking 'Fortress Strahov'". The Prague Post.
- Švec, Petr (7 September 2007). "Pražská nej: nejstarší panelák i největší stadion" (in Czech). MAFRA.
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