In the very center of Kyiv, at the foot of Cherepanova hill, is located one of the largest in Europe sports complex, which since 1996 bears the name "National Sports Complex "Olimpiyskiy". Its central part is a large sports arena with football field, athletic tracks and two-tirered stands for spectators.
The 12th of September, 1923 is considered to be the Stadium Birthday, when at the "Red Stadium named after L. Trotskiy" took place first competitions of Kyiv region Olympic Games. The stadium project was designed by a young engineer L.I. Pilvinskiy. The slopes of Cherepanova hill were used for construction of Southern and Eastern stands. The Northern and Western stands were constructed on remains of buildings, covered by soil.
Special attention to the construction of the stadium was coming from Hungarian politician - internationalist Gavro Lajos, who was the military Commissar of Kyiv province in 1924. 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 determined in accordance with revolutionary traditions of that time. The red color had been holding its positions in names of many constructions 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, since 1926 was excluded from the Political Bureau of the CC of AUCP(B) for party revisionism, and in the end of 1927 - excluded form CC, expelled from the USSR and murdered abroad) in the stadium name was taking place only in 1923.
In 1924 the stadium field was partially created with sizes 120х70 m with West-East orientation. Around the outer perimeter of the field there were located running tracks, dressing rooms and showers. Thus, the stadium was gradually changing its appearance.
Since 1925 the Red Stadium was holding the most part of city Championship matches. Legendary Kyiv "Zheldor" celebrated here its victories, where the best Kyiv players played - Yamkoviy, Vesenjev, Tovarovskiy, Bardadim, Shevtsov, Boyko, Dolgov and Fenhel, and later – Goncharenko, Sviridovskiy, Potalov etc.
From 1928 during the celebration of the Day of physical culture trainer on the Red Stadium, 2,000 athletes from the city demonstrated a huge bright pyramid in the form of a five pointed star with their bodies created and.
From its early existence the Red Stadium gave a great impulse to the development of mass sports movement in Kyiv. Players of that time mastered their skills here as well as the most important and fundamental competitions were held here. It was the best football arena in the city, so all significant matches of the Championship of Kiev, international matches between teams of workers from Lower Austria in 1927-1929 and Kyiv team with workers' sporting association of England in 1927 were held here till the opening of "Dynamo" stadium. Dynamo Kyiv played matches with its competitors from other cities on this field, as well as the first international match that was pleayed between "Dynamo" and workers' association from Lower Austria (1929 - 3:4).
In 1934, when Kiev became the capital of Ukrainian SSR, the question about the necessity of construction of larger sports arena that would meet high requirements for physical culture and sport in the USSR had arisen immediately. In 1935 a competitive tender for "raising" the Red Stadium to a higher level was announced and it was won by the project of the young architect Mikhail Grechina with the title "Ukrainian Republican Stadium". By the way, the name of the famous Ukrainian architect is related to almost all the changes and reconstructions of the stadium. He has been caring for his creation for a half of a century.
According to the project of the general reconstruction of Kiev, the construction of the stadium was provided on large territory that bordered with the Red Stadium. The stadium project included stands for 50 thousand spectators. It was planned to build a grandiose "Combine of Physical Culture" of Republican significance whose sports arena would become one of the largest in USSR - after stadiums in Moscow and Leningrad. This 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..."
The ongoing construction of a new stadium did not give the possibility to hold competitions on the old arena. Excavators, tractors, lift cranes started their work at the Red Stadium. Soil was taken out in cubic meters alongside with the import of engineering constructions. Eastern stands followed the topography of the mountain, but Western stands were artificial and contained the administrative complex, which included the government stand, hotel, sports halls and business premises. Tens of thousands of residents worked on the construction of the stadium. The stadium has become nationwide. After five years of construction of the Stadium on a background of green park, Cherepanova and Hospital hills, the football arena had finally grown with stands for spectators, pavilion with lockers, referee rooms and medical facilities. Wide red granite stairs were leading to the stands. Lighting and radio systems were installed in accordance with reqierements of that time. A wide alley, planted with maples, surrounded all 36 sectors of the stadium. At the foot of Cherepanova hill, there were built playgrounds for volleyball, tennis, basketball and gorodki. Pavilions for rest were located a bit higher on the hill.
The main entrance to the stadium should have been decorate by the majestic colonnade of 22 columns of Corinthian Order. Such columns had already been used by Kyiv architects for decorating pavilions of the All-Russian industrial exhibition. But, unfortunately, the colonnade and the courtyard were not completed. This was the point when 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 holding the position of the First Secretary of CC of AUCP(B), in 1964 was taken off the position) was planned to be held on June 22, 1941. "Dynamo" Kyiv was preparing for the match on June 22 against the team of Red Army from Moscow. The newspaper "Proletarskaya pravda" published on June 22: "The largest in Ukraine physical culture facility opens tomorrow in Kyiv - Republican Stadium named after M.S. Khruschov... The new stadium can simultaneously allocate 70 thousand spectators. Surrounded by 36 sectors for 50 thousand seats, like a fluffy green carpet, lays an oval football field of international suzes... From the side of Anri Barbyusa Str. stands a graceful colonnade. 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 the stadium opening. And the tickets were already in sale. But the morning of that day, the 22nd of June, 1941 was the day when the 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 ticket. 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 remaining in the city, had to fight for their life. Famous football player of Kyiv "Zheldor" G. Shvetsov, who accepted the new regime and treated it loyally, on his own initiative created the Sports Association "Rukh" for sportsmen, who also accepted the new regime. Shevtsov had become a player-coach of this football team and association. "Rukh" played its matches at the new Republican Stadium, which had unofficial name in newspapers and among population - "Sports Palace" stadium, and later, by the decision of Mayor initiated by Shevtsov, it was officially renamed 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", given for trainings every Tuesday and Friday 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 is to be played at the stadium "Sports Palace".
Shvetsov (3 newspapers "New Ukrainian word" Kyiv, 06.06.1942)
"The opening of this beautiful and huge, almost for 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 Kiev from fascist invaders on November 6, 1943, it was hard to recognize the stadium. It wasn't 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. During the occupation the central pavilion served as a German garage. And, while retrieving, 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 is symbolic that on that day, the match between "Dynamo" (Kyiv) and CBCA (Moscow) was played, the match that didn't take place on June 22, 1941. Unfortunately, the team form Kyiv had lost the match with a score 0:4. "Committee for physical culture and sport 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-sportive gymnastic performances of voluntary sports societies, educational institutions of Kyiv.
2. Performances of masters of sports in gymnastics, athletics and lifting.
3. Football match CBCA (Moscow) – Dynamo (Kyiv). Entrance to the stadium: from Chervonoarmiyska and Prozorivska Str. Event starts at 17:00.
Ticket costs 5 karbovantsiv. Preliminary sale of tickets in "Dynamo" shops, Stadium box offices, Theatrical central ticket office. (From the newspaper "Soviet Ukraine". Kyiv 24.06.1944).
The leadership of the Republic and personally M.S. Khrushchov commissioned architects and builders a specific task to bring the building into compliance with pre-war projects and with mandatory improvements, firstly because it was not made then (government stand, sports pavilion with colonnade, fence, etc.), and secondly the question of lighting of a football field for holding matches in the evening and installation of a modern scoreboard. The stadium didn't have a scoreboard until 1949 and the score was demonstrated on masts with ladders that were used by stadium employees to change the scorecards during 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. Constructed auxiliary rooms for football players – lockers and showers. An excellent track is laid down around the field - 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 with players of the "Lokomotiv" Kharkiv.
In the early 50 's, over the stands of southern ("Cherepanova hill") gates appeared a wooden scoreboard. A plywood panel, 3x6 meters in size, in a metal frame, bears names of teams and the score in meter diameter. After each goal, a stadium employee took a special ladder to change the scorecards on the board.
In Summer 1954 the construction of the main stadium facade was finished - the Colonnade with access to the inner courtyard of the administrative facility. These columns had become 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 in the stadium with a clock in the middle, 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 the new electronic board began its installation that was commissioned in Hungary. On April 10, 1963 during the match between "Dynamo" (Kyiv) and "Spartak" (Moscow), for the first time spectators could see the score with indication of minutes when the goals were scored and names.
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). The project was based on construction of 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.
Also, this project was finally reportorial complex over the upper tier of the western stand, where commentator booths were installed on high supports, as well as the springboard for ski jumping. Two new boards, with sizes of 18x6 meter, were also installed: the left one was displaying time, date and air temperature, and the right one - teams' names, score and authors of goals.
The Central stadium was closed for the third overhaul and substantial reconstruction in 1977 due to the decision to include the capital of Ukraine into hosting of 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 were also installed, the height of which was 82 meters. Each pole had 132 lamps for 3.5 kW each. It was that period of reconstruction when two additional fields were constructed in the territory of the sports complex, as well as the platform for throwing the disc, nucleus, javelin and hammer, and new unique springboard with cable-stayed design.
Before the Olympic football tournament in 1980, the stadium has returned its historic name - the Republican Stadium. On July 20-27, 1980 the stadium hosted matches of participants of the Olympic games - team of Algeria, Iraq, Spain, Costa Rica, GDR, Syria and Finland.
In 1996 the stadium received a long-deserved name - National Sports Complex "Olimpiyskiy". This status is confirmed by the Order of the President of Ukraine.
During the reconstruction in 1998 due to establishment of individual chairs, the capacity of the stadium decreased to 83 thousand.
The last reconstruction of the National Sports Complex "Olimpiyskiy" began in August 2008 in the framework of preparation and hosting the final part of the European Football Championship in 2012 in Ukraine.