Spartak Stadium

November 8th, 2012 Sections: Bishkek, Sporting Life

Spartak Stadium

When I first arrived in Bishkek, (over seventeen years ago, now), I lived in an apartment in the block on the corner of Togolok Moldo and Frunze streets – and the balcony looked out over the road to  Spartak Stadium.

Although it is not the only sports stadium in Bishkek, Spartak is Kyrgyzstan’s biggest sporting arena, (with seating for about 23000 spectators), it was not very often that we noticed lots of people making their way to some event or other.  Although it is said that “in the Soviet era, Spartak Stadium was full every week” … but, now … “maybe a couple of hundred people come.”

That certainly seems to be in keeping with my experience.

There was, for example, one occasion when I saw a small poster by the turnstiles of the main gates which announced a World Cup Qualifying match against Tajikistan.  It caught my eye because it would be a big game: a world cup qualifier and a “local derby” to boot.  I expected large crowds … but to my amazement, when the big day came there was hardly anyone in the stadium – maybe a couple of hundred spectators … if that.

It all seemed very odd to me when I thought of the traffic and organized chaos I had seen around Twickenham on the afternoon of  one of the games in the Five Nations championships, (now, of course, the Six Nations Championships), or the traffic jams that caused havoc as far away as the North Circular Road when there was a big match at Wembley Stadium …  or, for that matter, around the Bramley Sports Ground in Southgate whenever Saracens had a home game.

During the cool of a summer evening there are people who arrive to jog around the track and sometimes it is used for local sporting events such as a game of American Football between the team representing the American University and a team from Almaty.  One Easter I saw that there was a three nations Rugby tournament featuring reams from Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.  Sometimes it is used as a venue for local sports, but I think the horses make havoc of the pitch, and so these are mainly in the Hippodrome to the West of the City.

Just occasionally there will be a concert or some other event but, most of the time, it seems more or less deserted.

The stadium is built on a spot which has long been associated with sporting events.  At the beginning of the last century there was a dusty pitch used for Football matches here.  In the 1920’s the Soviets arranged visits by sportsmen from elsewhere in the Union, (for example, Leningrad), and annual sporting competitions were organized, (for example, inter school competitions).

By the summer of 1927, some form of stadium existed here, because it is referred to as such in a report in the the newspaper Soviet Kyrgyzstan. It seems to have been a very spartan affair, however, with limited changing facilities and no showers.  In 1939 there were a number of facilities – a cinder athletics track, a cycle track, a hall for wrestling – together with benches for spectators and a podium for distinguished personages had been erected.  The building of the current stadium was commenced and  took two years to complete.   Although showers were included in the changing rooms, they weren’t heated which must have limited their usefulness during the winter months.

The facilities are somewhat improved nowadays, especially the bright colourful plastic seating which I am toild is a great improvement on the old wooden benches.

The buildings around the stadium used to house the sports administration for the Republic – the State Committee for Tourism, Sport and Youth Policy.

A little to the South, (towards the mountains), is another stadium, the “Small Stadium”.




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