Nemzeti Atlétikai Központ

Capacity14 531
Country Hungary
Inauguration 17/06/2023
Construction 2020–2023
Cost HUF 246 B ($ 731 M)
Design Napur Architect
Contractor ZÁÉV Építőipari Zrt., Magyar Építő Zrt.
Structural engineer Épszerk-Pannónia Invest Építőipari Kft., Bayer Construct Zrt., Gedi Építő Kft.
Address 1095 Budapest, Hajóállomás utca 1


Nemzeti Atlétikai Központ – stadium description

How did the construction of the National Athletics Centre in Budapest happen?

As Budapest intended to bid to host the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics, a preliminary concept for a new Olympic Stadium in the Hungarian capital was developed in 2016. Due to growing public resistance, Budapest withdrew from the competition to host the Games in February 2017 and the concept remained unimplemented.

However, plans to build a new athletics stadium were not completely abandoned. In 2017, Ferenc Puskás Stadium was demolished to make room for the construction of the new, football-specific Puskás Arena. This meant that Budapest was left without a major athletics stadium.

It was decided to use the plot of land previously earmarked for the would-be Olympic Stadium to build the new arena. It was located on the southern outskirts of the city centre (left bank), right on the Danube, near the Rákóczi Bridge and the northern tip of Csepel Island. Administratively, the area belongs to Budapest's 9th district (Ferencváros). The state already carried out a buyout of the land in 2014.

How did the concept for Budapest's new athletics stadium develop?

The competition for the architectural concept of the new stadium, which was to become the country's leading athletics venue, was announced in April 2017, with Napur Architect studio emerging as the winner in September of the same year. The first plans called for a stadium with a capacity of 55,000 spectators (15,000 after the demolition of the temporary upper level of the stands). At the same time, Budapest began applying to host the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

In March 2018, Napur Architect studio was commissioned to develop the full design documentation. Marcel Ferencz was the main architect for the venue. In the course of work on the final shape of the arena, the concept evolved and the initial maximum capacity of 55,000 spectators was reduced first to 40,000 and finally to 37,326 (with 14,531 seats after the removal of the upper tier). It was also decided that the roof would be permanent and not be removed along with the temporary stands. An updated concept was shown in December 2018.

How was Budapest's new athletics stadium built?

An overview of the construction of the new athletics stadium in Budapest can be seen on a separate subpage

On December 4, 2018, Budapest was awarded the rights to host the 2023 World Athletics Championships, the main arena of which is to be the new stadium, named the National Athletics Stadium (Nemzeti Atlétikai Központ). The competition, which is scheduled for 19-27 August 2023, will be Hungary's biggest sporting event to date. Hosting the competition was an additional impetus for the construction of the new facility.

In November 2019, a contract worth 4.1 billion forints was signed with Fejér-B.Á.L Zrt. and Föld-Trans 2001 Kft. to clean up and prepare the site for the investment. The work included the demolition of buildings on the premises of the former Institute for Environmental Protection and Water Management (VITUKI), tree felling and excavation work. Among other things, the swimming pool located here was removed during this phase.

In February 2020, a tender procedure was launched to select the main contractor for the stadium. The successful bidder was a consortium of ZÁÉV Zrt. and Magyar Építő Zrt. The contract was signed on November 2, 2020. The stadium contract was worth 150 billion forints, but the state intended to spend almost 203 billion forints on the entire project.

After the initial site preparation, one of the few surviving structures on the site was a 57-metre high skyscraper in the south-eastern part of the plot. It was originally intended to become part of the project, but examinations carried out showed that the technical condition of the building did not allow it to be used. As a result, its demolition was carried out on December 10, 2020.

Back at the end of 2020, the first foundations of the stadium stands were laid. In spring 2021, the first concrete steps were laid on the stands. In the summer of 2021, the steel skeleton around the stadium began to be built. The last of its 48 segments was installed in December of the same year. In the following year, work continued on and around the stadium.

On October 28, 2022, the topping out was hung on the stadium and a barrel was rolled over the new footbridge, celebrating the completion of the stadium's roof and the footbridge to Csepel Island. In autumn 2022, the stadium was green turfed and the installation of the second, temporary floor of the stands began. At the end of 2022, ticket sales for the athletics world championships began.

In the second half of 2022, it was reported that the costs of the entire project were rising, first from 204 to 211 billion forints, then to 238 billion, and by the end of the year to 246 billion. This makes the project the most expensive investment in sports infrastructure in Hungarian history (by comparison, the construction of Puskás Arena cost 190 billion forints). During the construction process, there have been criticisms questioning its justifiability.

When was the National Athletics Stadium in Budapest opened?

On June 15, 2023, a modest ceremony was held in which World Athletics President Sebastian Coe ran a full lap with a group of children, inaugurating the athletics track.

The real inauguration of the stadium took place two days later, when an open day was organised at the stadium. The facility was opened to the public, and there were numerous attractions for visitors, including entertainment programmes and sports activities for the whole family. Those wishing to do so had the opportunity to take part in the 100m, 2.3km and 4.5km runs. Participants received commemorative medals and a 50% discount on tickets to the athletics world championships.

What are the characteristics of the National Athletics Stadium in Budapest?

The architectural concept of National Athletics Stadium in Budapest can be viewed on a separate subpage

The stadium was designed primarily for athletics events. The facility is state-owned and its main user is the National Athletics Association (MASZ).

The lower part of the stadium's auditorium is a ring with a reinforced concrete structure. This part of the stands can seat 14,531 spectators. Behind this ring, a wide platform was created on which temporary stands were erected for the World Athletics Championships, increasing the capacity of the arena to 37 326 spectators.

After the championships, the temporary upper level of the stands was demolished and the platform is to be used as a public recreation area with views of the Danube. A metal framework surrounds the facility, providing support for the membrane roof covering the stands. The metal structure can be illuminated in different colours at night.

Floodlights are attached to the edge of the roof, and two video screens are mounted on each of the two arches. The folding seats in the lower, fixed part of the stands are arranged in a mosaic of white, grey and red. The stands are separated from the running track by a shallow moat.

The stadium is located on the southern outskirts of Budapest city centre (left bank), right on the banks of the Danube, near the Rákóczi Bridge and the mouth of the Danube branch (Ráckevei-Duna) into the main river, opposite the northern tip of Csepel Island. Administratively, the area belongs to the 9th district of Budapest (Ferencváros). Formerly a predominantly industrial area, it has been completely transformed and revitalised with the construction of the stadium.

Recreational areas, meadows and paths were created around the stadium. There are marinas on the renovated waterfront. New dykes were also created and the section of the railway line running alongside was renovated with the construction of two new viaducts.

The project also included new training facilities (including an additional full-size treadmill), which were built on Csepel Island, and a pedestrian and cycle bridge was constructed leading to the island.



Related news