Hungary’s Puskás Aréná opens to humongous crowd



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Hungary’s Puskás Aréná opens to humongous crowd Image: Árvai Károly / Kormany.hu

A humongous crowd was present at the inaugural function of Budapest’s new football temple – Puskás Aréná. It is a football stadium in the 14th district of Budapest in Hungary.

Though Uruguay won the opening game against Hungary, the inauguration of Puskás Aréná was a celebrated moment. In just over half a year Euro 2020 is coming to this majestic arena.

On the inaugural day, all roads were leading to the venue – the glowing beacon in the eastern Zugló district. At 7 pm, Hungary hosted the very first game at the national stadium, rebuilt after the previous one had been pulled down in 2016. Tickets sold like hot cakes and there was a turnout of 65,114 people.

Before match started, supporters created a large tifo across three tiers of the south stand, depicting the famous Ferenc Puskás. The tifo carried the message – ‘Két stadion, egy legenda, egy újabb törtenet kezdete’ (‘Two Stadiums, One Legend, Beginning of a New Story’). The tifo was embellished with national colors.

The opening ceremony was a modest affair and there were light shows. The only dampener was that Hungary lost to Uruguay. In just 21 minutes, Uruguay scored twice and even a prompt response from Hungary (who scored just three minutes after the second goal) wasn’t enough to get back even until the game ended.

As it was a friendly game, so the result does not matter much. The only sore part is that supporters wrote in social media that there were “organizational hiccups”.

The high point is that one of Hungary’s huge investments in decades met the deadline and without any major obstacles. Commonly named Puskás Aréná, the new venue has a number of associations with its predecessor, which dates back to 1953.

The site of the playing field is the same – where it was originally, when Ferenc Puskás (read Ferenc Puskás was a Hungarian footballer and manager, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time) himself was playing here. Secondly, decorated staircase towers are a replica of the old ones, though none of the historical towers was retained eventually.

Thirdly, the facility still has its eastern tower attached, just like the old one, which will go on to become a museum in 2020. Fourthly, a section of the old stadium is actually within the precincts of the new one thanks to 50,000 cubic meters of concrete having been recycled and used as construction material.

Though the new stadium resembles to a great extent the previous legendary stadium, the former has got rid of its predecessor’s issues – it boasts better sightlines and excellent infrastructure. The capacity is lower than the old stadium, it currently stands at 67,155. The present venue’s scale is even more impressive – 52 meters in height, 261 m in width and 316 m in length, it’s the second largest structure in Budapest.

It also enjoys the tag of being the largest stadium in its part of Europe, distancing national stadia of larger countries. The brand new venue will host next year’s Euro and, in all likelihood, will bag the rights to hold an upcoming Champions League final or at least Europa League final.

Hungary had to pay over HUF 190 billion for the taxpayer-funded arena, which represents roughly €570 million today. Its 200,000 m2 of floor space and roof covering 57,000 m2 makes for a vision.

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