Not just any egg, the Brâncuși egg. Loose inspiration and yet the outcome is really satisfying. This Romanian stadium indeed deserves to be among your nominees for Stadium of the Year 2017!
This stadium's history dates back to the mayoral election victory of Lia-Olguța Vasilescu. The poltician promised a world class stadium to her community and soon after gaining office presented the stunning, futuristic vision by Proiect Bucuresti, in 2013.
Beautiful but unrealistic – that's the gist of reactions the concept received. Indeed it was never delivered in its initial form, but contrary to many Romanian cities, Craiova did end up with a brand new football venue.
From the presentation in 2013 a lot has changed. In fact, there were four iterations of the stadium before it reached its final shape. Still elliptical in its outer form, the stadium is loosely inspired by the art of Constantin Brâncuși and may be considered futuristic.
However, numerous elements have been reduced between 2013 and 2016. Proposed height of 60 meters was not only excessive, it proved unsafe, unfeasible as protection from the elements and blocking sunlight access to the field. It was reduced to 53 and eventually 50.14 meters. Along with height down went the capacity. Two-tiered stands were reduced to a single bowl, while total seat number was brought from 40,000 to 31,000.
Construction began in September 2015, following demolition of the old Ion Oblemenco stadium, and was expected to take 17 months. This proved far too optimistic, especially in light of significant changes to the project during actual works.
Higher water table forced foundation changes, the promenade for fans had to be increased, as well as infrastructure required by UEFA after Romania became part of Euro 2020. Not irrelevant, also, are errors committed during construction, most notable the different height of two quarters of the stadium's dome.
Eventually the stadium was complete and approved in October 2017 and the outcome is satisfying. The stadium offers a dynamic transition from the rectangular field to the elliptical outer shell. Surrounded by concrete 'crown', the stands allow every fans to see all remaining spectators, giving full overview of the stadium.
Beneath the stands a total of 29,700 m2 floor space was created, providing not only the basic media, sporting and corporate hospitality facilities, but also a small hotel. Facilities are spread across 7 floors, including ground level. All of that with a budget that stayed within €51 million sounds like a decent investment, provided that fans and players of Universitatea make good use of the stadium.