New stadium: Lithuania’s biggest venue inaugurated!
source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola
Last Sunday, the renovated Kaunas stadium was officially opened after more than four years of construction work. That evening, the final match of the Lithuanian Cup was held, preceded by an official part. The match was followed by an artistic segment combined with a light show and fireworks.
Dariaus ir Girėno stadionas is a venue with a rich, almost 100-year history. It has already undergone a number of major and minor modernisations in the past, but the latest one, just completed, is by far the most spectacular. In the course of more than four years of development, at a cost of €43 million, fully covered stands were built practically from scratch. On the eastern side, which was previously open, a new main stand with VIP areas was raised. This gave the facility a compact, closed appearance.
The façade of the stadium consists of vertical aluminium panels, which can be illuminated in different colours at night. An interesting architectural feature is the gaps in the exterior on either side of the east stand, through which the trees of the nearby Oak Grove can be seen. The facility has an athletics track that surrounds the pitch with a heated, hybrid turf.
The Kaunas stadium through reconstruction has grown to over 15,000 seats. It is by far the largest and most modern facility in Lithuania, as evidenced by UEFA's awarding it with the highest, fourth category. Not surprisingly, the inauguration ceremony was well attended by the public. 13,000 spectators were seated in the stands and special guests included, among others, the legendary basketball player, Arvydas Sabonis.
The event started with the formal part, in which the mayor of Kaunas, Visvaldas Matijošaitis, first gave a speech.
The dream of Darius and Girėnas has finally come true and Kaunas has the only football stadium in Lithuania the politician said. The mayor's short speech was accompanied by both cheers and applause from the stands. Edgaras Stankevičius, secretary general of the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF), then spoke, but was drowned out by yelling fans. The LFF has been heavily criticised in recent years for, above all, the poor performance of the national team and the links of some of its officials to the criminal world.
After a speech by the union representative, the head of Autokausta, the company building the stadium, Juozas Kriaučiūnas handed over a symbolic key to the mayor. Then, finally, it was time for some sports excitement. In the Lithuanian Cup final, the teams of FC Hegelmann from Kaunas and FK Žalgiris Vilnius clashed. Marko Milićkowić scored in the 76th minute to provide the opener for the visitors from the capital. "The Blue-Whites" managed to equalise in added time through Samuel Odeyobo and extra time was needed to decide the winner. However, Vilnius were the better team, who, after Mario Pavelic's goal in the 110th minute, were able to lift the desired cup after the final whistle.
The stadium's inauguration was concluded with musical performances and a light and fireworks show. The Lithuanians thus lived to see a sports facility of real significance. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the construction of Vilniaus Nacionalinis Stadionas, which has been years in the making, will also have a happy-ending.