Olympiastadion Helsinki

Capacity36 200
Country Finland
Floodlights 1,250 lux
Inauguration 12.06.1938
Construction 12.02.1934 - 06.1938
Renovations 1939, 1947-1952, 1953-1956, 1961, 1971, 1991-1994, 1997-1998, 2004-2005, 2011, 2016-2020
Record attendance 46,127 (Finland - Holland, 31.05.1989)
Cost € 337 million
Design Yrjö Lindegren, Toivo Jäntti (1934), Arkkitehtitoimisto K2S (2013)
Address Paavo Nurmen tie 1, Töölö, Helsinki


Olympiastadion – stadium description

The Stadion foundation was established already in 1927, planning the development of a true multi-use venue for Helsinki. Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti won the design competition foundation carried out and construction began in 1934, ending short before the outbreak of WWII.

As Helsinki had aspirations to hold Olympics, their new stadium was soon expanded and when the city won the 1952 tournament with their bid, stands were temporarily expanded to 70,000 capacity. Soon after the event another changes came, resulting in the stadium’s current external appearance, with large wooden panels and still simple, functionalistic form.

Apart from Finland national team’s games, HJK held their largest fixtures here, like the Manchester United encounter in 1965. But this was never a stadium dedicated to football, holding various winter sport events already from 1940s, with hockey, bandy and speed skating among others. To date its pitch is converted into an ice rink during wintertime.

Also a large variety of summer sporting tournaments took place, with both World and European Championships in Athletics (1983, 2005 and 1971, 1994, 2012 - respectively). In 1970 The Rolling Stones played the first concert, starting another new chapter.

One element of the stadium stands out particularly, and literally – the 72-meter tower that gives a wonderful view of Helsinki and is an attraction itself. In 1943 Finnish sports museum was opened under the stands and in 1961 Olympiastadion’s famous hostel.

Olympiastadion HelsinkiAfter various changes the stadium still enjoys its historical appearance on the outside and indications say this will continue. Even addition of a roof opposite the main stand in 2005 didn’t change this.

Between 2016 and 2020 the stadium went through its biggest intervention in history. Instead of demolishing the monumental structure, authorities opted to preserve the original architecture and improve it, based on the 1938 aesthetics. Since it was deemed inappropriate to interfere with its facades, additional floor spaces and uses were created beneath ground level, beside the stadium.

The most significant changes include extension of the roof to cover nearly all spectators, renovation of all existing facilities and replacement of the famous wooden benches with individual seats (still wooden, though!). All timber was sourced within Finland and despite the changes capacity remains unchanged.

The structural steel used for extended roof weighs some 3,000 tons, with the longest single beam going 36 metres into the stadium. The roof rests on the 80 historical columns, although reinforced with additional concrete to bear the weight.

Olympiastadion Helsinki

The amenities were changed almost entirely. Aside from renovation of the existing facilities, a total of 20,000 m2 was added within the stadium complex. Perhaps most surprising addition is a second running track around the field hidden beneath the open-air one. Internal logistics and crowd flow were also upgraded, with new vomitories ensuring easy access and egress. Materials used are entirely consistent with the historical parts of the stadium, with white concrete, timber and glass dominating the stadium.

Renewed entirely, the building came back to life on August 22, 2020. The project received quite some praise, taking home the Wood Prize 2020, RIL Award 2020 and Architecture Finland 2020. On the other hand, quite some controversy was also associated with it, as the initial budget of €197 million grew massively, ending at €337 million.



Related news