The largest sports complex of Eastern Europe that has been called "National Sports Complex "Olimpiyskiy" since 1996 is located in the very center of Kyiv, at the foot of Cherepanova hill. Its central part is a large sports arena with football pitch, athletic tracks and two-tiered stands for spectators.
The 12th of September, 1923 is considered to be the Stadium Birth date, when the first competitions of Kyiv region Olympic Games took place at the "Red Stadium named after L. Trotskiy". The stadium project was designed by a young engineer L.I. Pilvinskiy. The slopes of Cherepanova hill were used to construct the Southern and Eastern stands. The Northern and Western stands were made with the remains of buildings, covered by soil.
The Hungarian politician - internationalist Gavro Lajos, who was the military Commissar of Kyiv province in 1924, gave the special weight to the building of the stadium. He was the initiator of construction of the "Red Stadium". Thus, due to Gavro the construction was started.
The name "Red Stadium named after L. Trotskiy" was chosen in accordance with revolutionary traditions of that time. The red color had been prevalent in the names of different buildings for many years in future. The name of L.Trotskiy (Trotskiy (Bronstein) Lev Davidovich - People's Commissar for military and naval forces of the USSR, who was excluded from the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of the Bolsheviks for the party revisionism in 1926 and then expelled from the USSR and murdered abroad) was in the stadium’s name only in 1923.
In 1924 the stadium pitch was partially rebuilt with the sizes 120х70 m and West-East orientation, and dressing rooms and showers were made. As well as the running tracks were added around the pitch. Thus, the stadium had been gradually changing its appearance.
Beginning with 1925 The Red Stadium hosted the most of city Championship matches. Legendary Kyiv "Zheldor" celebrated their victories here. The best Kyiv players likes of Yamkoviy, Vesenjev, Tovarovskiy, Bardadim, Shevtsov, Boyko, Dolgov and Fenhel, and later – Goncharenko, Sviridovskiy, Potalov etc played at that arena.
In 1928 during the celebration of the Day of physical culture at the Red Stadium, 2,000 city athletes made a huge bright pyramid in the form of a five pointed star with their bodies.
With the beginning of exploitation The Red Stadium gave a great impulse to the development of mass sports in Kyiv. The most important and fundamental competitions were held here. It was the best football arena in the city, so all the significant matches of the Championship of Kiev, international matches between teams of workers from Lower Austria and Kyiv team took place here in 1927-1929. As well as matches of workers' sporting association of England against Kyiv team were held here in 1927. Dynamo Kyiv played their matches here before the opening of "Dynamo" stadium, and their first international match against workers' association from Lower Austria that was played here in 1929 (3:4).
In 1934, when Kiev became the capital of Ukrainian RSR, the city demanded to get larger sports arena to satisfy high requirements for physical culture and sport in the USSR. The reconstruction tender was announced in 1935. It was won by the young architect Mikhail Grechina with the "Ukrainian Republican Stadium" project. By the way, the name of the famous Ukrainian architect is related to almost all the changes and reconstructions of the stadium. He was caring for his creation during almost a half of the century.
According to the project of the general reconstruction of Kyiv the stadium had to be rebuilt on large territory that bordered with the Red Stadium. The capacity of stadium stands supposed to be 50 thousand of spectators. It was planned to build a grand "Combine of Physical Culture" of Republican significance. The sports arena planned to become one of the largest in USSR - after stadiums in Moscow and Leningrad. That was described in Kyiv newspaper "Proletarskaya Pravda" dated 20.06.35: "On the basis of the current Red Stadium the new Republican Stadium with area of 80 hectares is being projected. It will become the great combine of physical culture... The stadium construction will start in 1936..."
Due to the reconstruction of a stadium it couldn’t host sports competitions. Excavators, tractors, lift cranes started their work at the Red Stadium. Soil was taken out and the huge engineering constructions were taken in. The Eastern stands repeated the relief of the mountain, the Western stands were artificial and contained an administrative complex, which included a government tribune, a hotel, sports halls and utility rooms. Tens of thousands of Kyivans worked to construct the stadium. It became nationwide. During the five years of the construction of the stadium the football arena with spectators stands, a sports pavilion with changing rooms, referees 'rooms and doctors' offices appeared next to the green park massifand Cherepanovaya and Gospitalnaya hills. The grandstands were led by wide staircases of red granite. It was installed with the lighting and radiocommunication systems in accordance with the requirements of the time. A wide alley, planted with maples, surrounded all 36 sectors of the stadium. Nearby, at the foot of the Cherepanovaya hill, there were playgrounds for volleyball, tennis, basketball and gorodki. There were pavilions for rest on the hill.
The main entrance of the stadium had to decorated by the majestic colonnade of 22 columns of Corinthian Order. Such columns had already been used by Kyiv architects to decorate pavilions of the All-Russian industrial exhibition. But, unfortunately, the colonnade and the courtyard were not built in time. There was no other choice but to make a temporary entrance from the side of Anri Barbyusa Str. Due to lack of fund the construction of monumental fence was also canceled.
The second solemn opening of completely reconstructed stadium with new name - Republican Stadium named after M.S. Khrushchov (Mykyta Segiyovych Khruschov was the First Secretary of CC of AUCP(B), was taken off the position in 1964) was planned to be held on June 22, 1941. That day "Dynamo" Kyiv had the match against the team of Red Army from Moscow. The newspaper "Proletarskaya pravda" published on June 22: "The largest physical culture facility in Ukraine opens tomorrow in Kyiv - Republican Stadium named after M.S. Khruschov... The new stadium can simultaneously allocate 70 thousand of spectators. Surrounded by 36 sectors for 50 thousands seats, like a fluffy green carpet, lays an oval football field of international sizes... A graceful colonnade stands from the side of Anri Barbyusa Str.. It is a tepmporary entrance to the stadium... By the decision of the Government of the USSR, the Republican Stadium together with existing Palace of Physical Culture and Winter pool will form the united sports combine - center for educational and sports work.
Colorful posters were inviting residents of Kyiv to visit the stadium opening. And the tickets were already in sale. But in the morning of that day, the 22nd of June, 1941 the Second World War started. The German army crossed the border of the USSR, Kiev was attacked with the first Nazi bombs, and, of course, neither the football match, nor the opening of the stadium were held. But nobody returned the tickest. They were announced to be valid for better times.
On September 19, 1941 Kyiv was occupied by the troops of ivaders. A new occupational "regime" began reprisals against residents. All football players who stayed in the city, had to fight for their lives. Famous football player of Kyiv "Zheldor" G. Shvetsov, who accepted the new regime and treated it loyally, created the Sports Association "Rukh" for sportsmen, who also accepted the new regime. Shevtsov became a playing coach of this football team . "Rukh" played its matches at the new Republican Stadium, which had unofficial name "Sports Palace" stadium, and later, by the decision of Mayor it was officially renamed as the All-Ukrainian stadium.
The stadium was officilally opened under the occupational regime on July 12, 1942. "With the permission of Stadtcommissariat and with the help of City Council the sports life of Kyiv is restored. The stadium "Sports Palace" where trainings take place on Tuesdays and Fridays is the center of lively sports activities...
Football players were first to start their competitions... On Sunday, June 7, at 17:30 all football amateurs will have an opportunity to watch the first open football competition between football teams "Rukh" and "Klibzavod", which will be played at the stadium "Sports Palace".
Shvetsov (3 newspapers "New Ukrainian word" Kyiv, 06.06.1942)
"The opening of this beautiful and huge, for almost 60 000 people, stadium was planned by the Soviets on Sunday, June 22. 1941. This date is remembered by every resident of the Soviet Union and certainly will stay in history of mankind... But, for obvious reasons, neither the match, nor the holiday took place and were postponed for uncertain time. And today, on July 12, after more than one year, the opening of Ukrainian stadium took place. A good sunny weather has contributed to the holiday and the opening ceremony gathered over 15 000 people, among of which were representatives of German and Allied armies...
The opening of Ukrainian stadium in Kyiv ended up with interesting match between teams of sports associations "Rukh" and a team of German military base "D.V.". The match ended up with victory of Ukrainian team...R.D. (3 newpapers "New Ukrainian word", Kyiv, 15.07.1942)
After the liberation of Kyiv from fascist invaders on November 6, 1943, it was hard to recognize the stadium. It wasn't specially targeted by our troops or by Germans during the War. Although the occasional hits took place. Besides, the stadium served as a "shelter" for troops of both sides. The central pavilion served as a German garage during the occupation. And, while droping back, invaders took off the entrance gates and fence, doors and windows, destroyed water supply, lighting, radio broadcast etc. So the stadium required a reconstruction. This task was taken by the employees of the trust "Khreschatikbud" (later - "Kyivmiskbud-4"). With the help of residents, almost half of the stadium was restored. On June 25, 1944 it was solemnly opened. It was symbolic because that day the match between "Dynamo" (Kyiv) and CSKA (Moscow) was played, the match that had been canceled on June 22, 1941. Unfortunately, the team form Kyiv lost the match with a score 0:4.
"Committee for physical culture and sports at the Council of People's Commissars of Ukrainian SSR: on Sunday, June 24, there will be held a great sports holiday dedicated to the opening of Republican stadium named after M.S. Khrushchov.
1. Rhythmic gymnastic performances of voluntary sports societies of educational institutions of Kyiv.
2. Performances of masters of sports in gymnastics, athletics and lifting.
3. Football match CSKA (Moscow) – Dynamo (Kyiv). Entrance to the stadium: from Chervonoarmiyska and Prozorivska Str. Event starts at 17:00.
Ticket costs 5 karbovantsiv. Advance booking of tickets in "Dynamo" shops, stadium box offices, central theatre ticket office. (From the newspaper "Soviet Ukraine". Kyiv 24.06.1944).
The Republic executives and M.S. Khrushchov personally commissioned architects and builders to bring the building into compliance with pre-war projects and with mandatory improvements that hadn’t been done before (like government stand, sports pavilion with colonnade, fence, etc.). As well as the lighting of a football pitch and installation of a modern scoreboard were demanded. The stadium didn't have a scoreboard until 1949 and the score was demonstrated on masts with ladders. The scorecards were changed by stadium stuff during the matches.
Repair works and improvements of the stadium were significantly slowed down by the lack of investments. Indeed it was a serious problem in postwar period. Therefore, the first reconstruction lasted for five years and the stadium was opened only in 1949. Quotation from the newspaper "Kyivska pravda" dated 07.09.49.:" ...The football field is ready. Its surface is sown with perennial grass. Auxiliary rooms for football players – lockers and showers are constructed. An excellent track is laid down around the field that is one of the best in this country. Its width is up to 10 meters. The stands of the stadium include 38 sectors, 47 756 seats... Now matches of the Championship of the USSR Cup can be attended at the Stadium named after Khrushchov. On September 8 and 9, teams of the first group will meet here: Dynamo Kyiv will have a match against "Lokomotiv" Kharkiv.
In the early 50 's, a wooden scoreboard appeared over the stands of southern ("Cherepanova hill") gates. A plywood panel, 3x6 meters in size, in a metal frame, beared the names of teams and the score. After every goal, one of a stadium stuff took a special ladder to change the scorecards on the board.
In Summer 1954 the construction of the main stadium facade was finished. It was the Colonnade with access to the inner courtyard of the administrative facility. These columns became the symbol of the stadium.
But the main achievement of that time was the installation of four 45-meter high metal towers with 320 latticed spotlights with the total brightness of 500 lux. Since then, it was possible to host evening football matches in Kyiv. In 1956 a new scoreboard was installed at the stadium with a clock in the middle,it was equipped with electric lamps to indicate the score of the match upon the operator's signal.
In October 1962 the Republican Stadium named after M.S. Khrushchov changed its name to Central Stadium. At the end of that year, the scoreboard was dismantled and changed into the new electronic one that was bought in Hungary. On April 10, 1963 during the match between "Dynamo" (Kyiv) and "Spartak" (Moscow), the spectators could see the score with indication of minutes when the goals had been scored and names for the first time.
The second general reconstruction was started in 1966. The stadium was planned to be renewed for celebration of 50th anniversary of October revolution (1967).
The project of reconstruction was designed by the architects of Kyiv Regional Research Institute for typical and experimental design, and Kyiv project (M.I. Grechyn - operational director, G.I. Granatkin, A.M. Anishchenko and M.L. Gubov). It was planned to build the second tier, mounted for the first time in world practice on the original reinforced concrete dual console beam heads. Two-tiered stadium bowl was designed for 100 062 seats.
According to this project the media stand was also made, in was situated over the upper tier of the western stand, where commentator booths were installed as well as the springboard for ski jumping. Two new boards, with sizes of 18x6 meter, were also installed: the left one displayed time, date and air temperature, and the right one –players’ names, score and authors of goals.
The Central stadium was closed for the third overhaul and reconstruction in 1977 due to fact that the capital of Ukraine had to host the football tournament of XXII Summer Olympic Games in 1980. First of all it was necessary to prepare the field for matches of this level, thus the drainage system was improved with coplete replacement of soil and pitch. The eastern stand had a bowl for Olympic fire installed on original posts. Four new lighting poles with the height of 82 meters were also installed. Every pole had 132 lamps for 3.5 kW each. It was that period of reconstruction when two additional fields were built in the territory of the sports complex, as well as the platform for throwing the disc, shot, javelin and hammer, and new unique springboard.
The stadium got its historic name - the Republican Stadium - before the Olympic football tournament in 1980. On July 20-27, 1980 the stadium hosted matches of participants of the Olympic games the teams of Algeria, Iraq, Spain, Costa Rica, GDR, Syria and Finland.
The stadium received its long-deserved name - National Sports Complex "Olimpiyskiy" in 1996. This status is confirmed by the Order of the President of Ukraine.
The capacity of the stadium decreased to 83 thousand seats due to the establishing of the individual chairs during the reconstruction in 1998.
The last reconstruction of the National Sports Complex "Olimpiyskiy" began in August 2008 as the part of preparation to host the final part of the European Football Championship EURO- 2012 in Ukraine.