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Sat 09 April 2022 | 4:30

Top facts about Red Star Stadium, the beating heart of Belgrade

The Red Star of Serbia, shining brighter than any star in the country, is certainly the beating heart of Belgrade and one of the biggest tourist attractions of the city; welcome to top facts about Red Star Stadium, the beating heart of Belgrade.

The Rajko Mitic Stadium, popularly known as Marakana, is a multi-purpose stadium in Belgrade, Serbia, that has hosted Red Star Belgrade since 1963. The stadium is in Dedinje, which is part of the municipality of Savski Venac.

Why does its name defer from the name mentioned in the title? The first fact of

top facts about Red Star Stadium

is that Rajko Mitic Stadium was renamed in December 2014 in honor of club legend and former player Rajko Mitic. This stadium currently has a seating capacity of 53,000 people and is Serbia's largest stadium by capacity.

Many senior international matches have been held at the stadium, notably the European Cup final in 1973 and the UEFA European Championship finals in 1976.

A precise article of top facts about Red Star Stadium, the beating heart of Belgrade

Let us start from the roots and begin the article of

top facts about Red Star stadium

with its history.

On April 24, 1927, the first football stadium at this site opened. It was the home of SK Jugoslavija, the 1924 and 1925 Yugoslav football champions. It had a 30,000-seat stadium, as well as a grass field, an athletic track, a training facility, and a clubhouse.

The stadium hosted SK Jugoslavija matches until the end of WWII when the club was abolished by the new Yugoslav authorities. The ground was given to

Red Star Belgrade

, a newly formed team.

"Avala" was the name given to the stadium. It was intended for the "Metalac" football club (former BSK, now OFK Beograd) in 1945, but it was given to the newly created Red Star by Vladimir Dedijer, president of the Yugoslav Gym Association at the time.

Red Star was scheduled to play Bulgaria's CDNA in the summer of 1958 (today CSKA Sofia). The venue was inspected by a municipal inspector from Stari Grad, who deemed it unfit since the wooden beams were completely decayed.

Until the new stadium was completed, Red Star primarily hosted matches at the JNA Stadium (now Partizan Stadium), with minor events held at various smaller locations.

The old ground hosted Red Star's final match on December 27, 1959. In the last game at the dilapidated arena, FK Novi Sad was the opponent.

Along with the deteriorating facility, a piece of football history had vanished. At that stadium, Mosa Marjanovic scored a historic goal against Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, Frantisek Planicka was defeated, and many exciting games were played after World War II.

Red Star stadium construction process

Like the saying goes Rome wasn’t built in a day and this stadium went through a long process of construction before becoming what it is now. Take our hand as we walk through this long process of construction in this section of top facts about Red Star stadium.

The stadium was constructed between 1960 and 1963 and was entirely funded by the GENEX corporation. It was agreed that the new venue would be partially sunk into the ground to save money, particularly on rebars.

The stadium was to be built 12 meters (39 feet) lower than the old one in order to lay a proper foundation for the building. Excavation required almost 350,000 m3 (12,000,000 cu ft) of soil and 15,000 m3 (530,000 cu ft) of stone.

The project was quite costly. A small portion came from Red Star supporters' donations, but it wasn't quite enough. The majority of the finance came from the Executive Council, as Serbia's government was then known, which tied the funds to the construction of sports lanes. Even after the debut match in 1963, construction was maintained, and the costs increased.

The new stadium was ready to be unveiled after three years of building. The Yugoslav First League match vs NK Rijeka marked the official opener on September 1, 1963. (2-1). On that day, 55,000 fans entered the still-unfinished grandstand through nine 5-meter-wide access gates. Laza Petrovic, a peasant from the Loznica area, is said to have been the stadium's first visitor.

This fervent Red Star supporter arrived early in the morning at the new stadium and grabbed his seat in the eastern section. He got cheese and a bannock from his suitcase and ate his breakfast while waiting for the game to begin in the late afternoon.

Red Star stadium record attendance and capacity

The biggest crowd of the season was 108,000 at a derby against

Partizan

Belgrade in the autumn. The stadium's capacity was increased to 110,000 fans the next year, and it was given the unofficial moniker Marakana in honor of the famed Brazilian stadium.

Aside from its eye-catching design, the new stadium also boasted a superb grass surface with drainage, which enhanced the whole playing experience.

Still on the subject of records, the stadium's greatest audience was recorded on April 23, 1975, when it hosted the Hungarian team

Ferencváros

2–2 in the Cup Winners Cup semi-final home leg. Officially, there were 96,070 ticketed fans in the stands that night, but it is thought that the stadium was full to its maximum capacity, which at the time was 110,000.

The stadium's capacity has gradually diminished over the years. More seats were installed after several modernization touch-ups. Standing areas at the stadium were fully eliminated in the mid-1990s to meet UEFA regulations for spectator comfort and security. Seats were placed on all four stands, bringing the stadium's total capacity to 60,000 people.

Red Star stadium later changes

As you would expect there were multiple development stages and the last stage started in 2008.

The club stated in 2008 that the stadium's pitch would be rebuilt. Under-soil grass warmers were installed, and the old playing surface was replaced with new modern turf. The training pitch will be refurbished as well, with synthetic turf laid down and new lights installed.

Another interesting fact of top facts about Red Star stadium is that In 2014, the Red Star Assembly unanimously decided to change the stadium's name from Red Star Stadium to Rajko Mitic Stadium in honor of the late Red Star legend Rajko Mitic. A monument to Mitic was ceremonially unveiled in front of the west stand on November 19, 2017.

In August 2018, the public bidding for the massive rehabilitation project was announced, following extensive repairs in 2017-2018.

The stadium, as well as the complete sports complex, will be up for bid until September. It should entail, among other things, the lowering of the west stand and the installation of a VIP section, as well as the elimination of the athletic track.

Red Star stadium future plans and redesign

There are precise plans for the future of this amazing field which we will read about in this section of top facts about Red Star stadium.

The executive board of the Red Stars signed a pact for the rebuilding of the Rajko Mitic Stadium in 2012.

The current stadium will be redesigned by NCEC (Natong Construction Engineering Constructing Co.) in collaboration with Sonae Sierra, a Portuguese holding firm.

Zvezdani Grad (English: Star City or Starry City) is a 34.8-hectare development that will include a 50,000-seat stadium, a fitness facility, an ambulance, a shopping and spa center, office towers, a five-star hotel, modern housing blocks, and underground parking.

Markets, cafes, restaurants, and temporary exhibitions and performances will be held in the area between the stadium and the retail complex, which will be open in both summer and winter circumstances.

This covered area will also house the ticket office and club shop. A public park with an entrance from the shopping center will be built on the shopping complex's roof, where visitors will be able to enjoy panoramic views of Belgrade.

The stadium will be covered in solar panels, which will complement the stadium's energy needs. Other parts will be used to gather rainwater for irrigation of the complex's football fields and green areas.

The new stadium will be known for the club's symbol, the Red Star, and the stadium's primary structure will be in the shape of a five-pointed star. The project is expected to cost between €450 and €600 million.

Red Star stadium other uses

The field has also been used for concerts and this section of top facts about Red Star stadium will be all about these events.

Zdravko Colic is the most well-known performer, having put on three big gigs at Marakana. The first was on September 5, 1978, when 70,000 people attended his renowned Putujuci Urnebes Tour. Dado Topic & Mama Coco, Kornelije Kovac, Arsen Dedic, Kemal Monteno, and Lokice dance ensemble were the opening acts and guests.

Then, on June 30, 2001, he made another performance in front of 85,000 people to promote his Okano record, over twenty-three years later. Finally, on June 23, 2007, he promoted his Zavicaj record with his third massive concert, in front of 70,000 people at Marakana.

Other performances in the stadium were YU Rock Misija on 15 June 1985, an 8-hour show in front of a crowd of 30,000 people, despite the fact that they were not allowed onto the stadium's pitch due to Red Star's management's decision. Ceca, a Serbian folk singer, had a massive concert on June 15, 2002.

Aca Lukas most recently performed in front of 50,000 fans at the stadium on June 8, 2013.

For the next and last section of top facts about Red Star stadium, we will take a look at some of the short facts about this stadium.

Red Star stadium quick facts

The 1–0 victory of Ajax against Juventus in the 1973 European Cup Final is one of Belgrade's Marakana's all-time high attendances. Ruud Krol, Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep,

Johan Cruijff

, Dino Zoff, Fabio Capello, José Altafini, Roberto Bettega, and other European football players were among the 91,564 people in the stands (the third-highest attendance on the stadium's official all-time list).

Serbia-national Montenegro's team faced Bosnia-Herzegovina in a deciding match on the final matchday of 2006 World Cup qualifying on October 12, 2005.

Because of the circumstances and the high stakes, this was a crucial match for Serbia. Not to mention the fact that both countries were once part of SFR Yugoslavia, which heightened tensions even more.

Red Star played

FC Bayern Munich

in a UEFA Cup Group F match on October 25, 2007. Fans of Red Star Belgrade exited the stadium angry because, despite going up 2-0 twice, their club conceded two goals in the last minutes of the game and lost by a score of 2-3.

Red Star Belgrade then went on to lose its final three matches, finishing last in Group F with a score of 0 points. The atmosphere at the "Marakana" was electrifying, with the 55,000 spectators there evoking memories of the 1990-91 European Cup semifinal between these two sides.

This stadium hosted Liverpool in a UEFA Champions League Group C encounter on November 6, 2018. Milan Pavkov scored both goals as Red Star won 2-0. It was one of Red Star's most significant victories in recent memory.

Thank you for reading the

top facts about Red Star stadium

. We would also appreciate it if you share this article with your friend or family members so they can also learn more about this Serbian stadium.

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