Velký strahovský stadion – until 2007
|56,000 (benches) (Seats)|
|Record attendance||250 000 (festiwal Sokół, 1938)|
Description: Stadion Strahov
Grand opening took place in 1926. Already then it was huge. Playing field wasn’t suitable for football, it could actually accommodate up to 9 games at one time with the size of over 300x200 meters. Stands weren’t as large as they are now – most were raised on artificial hills, some upgraded with wooden structures. But in the first 6 years of the ground’s existence all sections for the crowd were replaced by new, larger concrete buildings. In 1937 Strahov achieved its top capacity of some 250,000 people. And though some sources claim it was 220 or 240, the number is still shocking. The capacity was possible thanks to most of the stands being standing only and of course crowds were spread throughout the immense diameter of this venue.
On various occasions Strahov’s stadium was filled to capacity, being the home of huge military parades and gymnastic performances Sokol that were prepared once every few years. These large events with tens of thousands of athletes may be compared probably only to the Arirang Festival in North Korea. Supposedly the largest of the Sokol festivals took place in 1938, soon before WWII broke out.
After the war Sokol performances were over, but Spartakiades took their place, engaging thousands every 5 years. These festivities are done now as well, but with Czech Republic becoming a democratic country, the events are much smaller since 1990, currently taking place at the nearby Evzen Rosicky Stadium.
New reality of a democratic country made the venue serve new purposes. Since 1990 its been host to numerous concerts – mostly of stars from Western Europe and USA – some of which had attendances well over 100,000 people. Numbers were dropping in the 21st century and so a new use became needed. That’s when local football club Sparta came in, taking the ground over. Not all of Strahov’s giant, that is, just the playing field. A new training complex with 8 pitches was built here and a new administration building stands in central location.
However, the concrete stands have been neglected for the past decades and despite the building being listed as a part of cultural heritage since 2003, it’s still in a very poor shape. At the time of writing this, the future of Strahov’s giant is still uncertain, but adapting the huge structures to become a commercial centre seems like the most viable option.