Stadion Hristo Botev
|PFC Botev Płowdiw
|BGN 62 M ($34.6 M)
|arch. Georgi Sawow, Vamos Architecture & Design
|Infrastrukturna Kompanija AD (2013–2015), PIMK, Valmex (2020–2023)
|bul. Iztochen 10, 4017 Plovdiv
Stadion Hristo Botev – stadium description
How did the plans to build a new stadium for Botev Plovdiv come about?
Botev Plovdiv was founded in 1912 and is the oldest football club in Bulgaria still in existence today. The club built its first stadium between 1925 and 1926 near the railway station. In 1949, following a decision by the communist city authorities, the venue (now known as Todor Diev Stadium) was handed over to Spartak club and Botev were left without their own arena and played their matches at other venues in the city.
It was not until 1959 that the construction of a new stadium for Botev began. The facility was built on the site of a pitch that had been constructed in 1923 by the former St Augustine's school ("kolezh") (hence the nickname "Kolezha" was applied to the new Botev stadium). Opened on May 14, 1961, the stadium originally belonged to the army and was only handed over to the club in 2010. The facility had an athletics track, which was surrounded by stands based on earth ramparts.
At the end of 2010, the chairman of the board of directors of KTB, Tsvetan Vasilev, became Botev's main shareholder, and one of his goals was to invest in improving the club's infrastructure. Planning for a new stadium soon began.
When was the concept for a new stadium for Botev Plovdiv created?
The architectural concept for the new stadium for Botev Plovdiv can be seen on our design webpage
In January 2012, the initial concept for the new stadium to be built on the site of the existing Botev facility was presented. The author of the concept was Georgi Savov of the Vamos Architecture & Design studio.
The facility was to have a football-specific, rectangular layout with single-level, mostly covered stands surrounding the pitch on all sides. The capacity was assumed to be around 18,000 spectators and the construction cost was estimated at the time to be around 20 million leva. In March 2014, an updated concept was presented, according to which the stadium was to be given a sleeker shape.
How did the construction of the new stadium for Botev Plovdiv proceed?
The progress of the new stadium for Botev Plovdiv can be seen on our construction webpage
On March 12 2012, Botev celebrated its centenary. Two weeks later, the demolition of the stadium began, although most of the dismantling work was not done until 2013, with completion in early 2014. Construction of the first stands began in 2013, with the groundbreaking symbolically taking place on July 1, 2013. At the time, it was expected that the new stadium would be completed by the end of 2014. The Vasilev-controlled Infrastrukturna Kompanija AD was responsible for the work.
Between 2012 and 2013, the club built its own training centre in the Komatevo district, in the south-western suburbs. A stand for 2,000 spectators was created next to one of the pitches. Due to the construction of the new stadium, Botev temporarily moved the playing of its matches to the new training centre in early 2014.
In the summer of 2014, following rumours of a possible financial pyramid scheme, KTB bank customers began to withdraw their funds en masse from the bank. This led to the collapse of the bank, and Tsvetan Vasilev left for Serbia for fear of being charged. This meant that the construction of the stadium was cut off from funding. In March 2015 Vasilev handed over his shares in the club to the supporters' association.
The city tried to salvage the situation by allocating its own funds to continue the work, but in 2015 the money ran out and construction was halted. By then, the reinforced concrete skeleton of the eastern and southern stands, and partly the northern stand, had already been built. The construction of the main stand was in its early stages.
In 2019, thanks to the receipt of European funding from the Regional Development Fund, work resumed. However, apart from clearing the area of overgrown vegetation, not much was accomplished, as work was soon halted again for procedural reasons. So that construction could continue, the city took over the stadium from the club in early 2020.
The stadium was visited by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, promising state aid to complete the construction. Indeed, the government allocated 25 million leva for the construction and, in the process, 12 million was also received by Botev's local rival Lokomotiv, who also started rebuilding their facility (so-called 'Lauta').
On December 9, 2020, the contract to complete the stadium was signed with a consortium of PIMK and Valmex. The contract was worth 43.7 million leva and was to be completed in two years. The missing amount of money was to be covered by the city budget. The actual resumption of work was already due in November 2020.
The two-year deadline could not be met, but it must be borne in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic was struggled with along the way. As the allocated funds proved insufficient, it was decided to cut the project, forgoing the roofing of the stands behind the goals or the construction of a striking façade. The cost of construction at the end was 62 million leva.
At the end of 2022, the first elements of the roof structure appeared above the stands. In March and April 2023, seats were installed in the auditorium. A pedestal with a bust of Christo Botev was put back in front of the stadium (for the duration of the construction it was stored at the base in Komatev). The pedestal was originally unveiled back in 1927 in front of the first Botev Stadium, from where it was moved when the new facility opened in 1961.
When was the new 'Kolezha' opened?
The first meeting in the new stadium took place on April 29, 2023, when Botev faced Levski Sofia in a league match (0:1). The return to its venue came after a long period of waiting and uncertainty, but in the end the club gained one of the most modern stadiums in the country.
Before the opening, one of the most recognisable clubs in Bulgaria had been playing its matches in a training stadium for almost a decade, although the original plan was for the new Koleza to be ready as early as the turn of 2014 and 2015. The matter was not looked at passively by Botev fans, who, demanding help from the authorities, organised protests and demonstrations, with their slogan becoming 'Kolezha or death'.
The stadium was built as a cost-saving option. It is still possible to fully implement the project, with covered stands behind the goals and an external facade. It is estimated that an additional 16-18 million leva will be needed to complete these tasks. In September 2023, construction began on the canopy over the stands behind the goals.
What are the characteristics of the new Christo Botev Stadium in Plovdiv?
The stadium is located in the Kamenica district, relatively close to the city centre. The facility has a typically football-like, rectangular layout. The pitch is located on a north-south axis and is surrounded on all sides by single-level stands. The main stand with facilities and boxes is located on the west side. The ultras sector is located on the south side and the visitors sector on the north-east side.
The auditorium is equipped with folding chairs in the club's colours (yellow and black). The capacity of the arena is 18,777 spectators. The stands along the pitch are covered, although the roof does not cover the first rows. Under the roof, floodlights have been installed.