SUMMER POSTCARDS: Plovdiv – A tale of two stadium ruins

It’s time for a most welcome summer break for many of our subscribers – and those most ardent of readers, it’s also a time to get out and see some stadiums in person. We’re collating some of the new, rare and unusual stadia in this series of Summer Postcards.

First stop: Bulgaria – or more precisely Plovdiv, the country’s ancient, second city which is home to the former 9th September Stadium. Build in 1950, the stadium has a capacity of 50,000 and has mainly been used for athletics. A major renovation in the 1980s lifted the capacity and for a time the stadium alternated with the capital’s Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia as home of the Bulgarian national football team.

But, as these images show, the stadium is now in a dire state, stripped of UEFA License and falling into disrepair. Several projects have been proposed to renovate and modernise the facilities – the most recent in 2012 with rumoured financial backing of Qatari investors. But none of the schemes has moved beyond the concept phase.

Ironically, Plovdiv is also home to one of the world’s most beautiful – but also abandoned – stadia: the Roman-era Stadium of Philippopolis in the city centre. The venue, approximately 240m long and 50m wide, could seat up to 30,000 spectators. Today, the northern curved part of the stadium is partially restored and is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the city among the many preserved buildings from Roman times.

Thanks to our friend Henrik Brandt (former Director of the Danish Institute of Sports Studies) who snapped main stadium pix on one of his morning runs this summer.

Seen any interesting stadia this summer? Ping us a postcard  to share the experience!!