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The Red Star Stadium, Stadion Crvena Zvezda (Marakana), Belgrade, Serbia

January 2nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Red Star Stadium, Serbian: Stadion Crvena Zvezda (colloquially known as Marakana after the famous Brazilian stadium) is a multi-use stadium in Belgrade, Serbia. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home stadium of Crvena Zvezda. The stadium is all-seated and the capacity is 55,000. It was opened in 1963 after construction which had started three years earlier.

On 27 December 1959, Red Star played its last match at the old ground that occupied the same location. FK Novi Sad was the opposition in a farewell game at the dilapidated arena built in 1927.

Together with the crumbling facility, a part of football history had left as well. At that stadium Moša Marjanović scored a famous goal on the Spanish keeper Ricardo Zamora, František Plánička was defeated, and after World War II plenty of beautiful and exciting games were played.

After the farewell game, stadium was demolished to be replaced by the modern new sporting facility at the exact same spot. In order to prepare the adequate construction area for the new stadium that was to be 12 meters lower than the previous one, over 350,000 cubic metres of soil and 15,000 cubic metres of stone had to be excavated.

Following the three years of construction, the new stadium was ready to be unveiled. The official opening took place on September 1, 1963 with the Yugoslav First League match against NK Rijeka (2:1). That day, some 55,000 spectators came through 9 entrance gates of 5 metres width each into the still unfinished stands. The very first visitor to the stadium is known to be Laza Petrović, a peasant from the Loznica vicinity. This fiery Red Star fan arrived to the new stadium early in the morning and took his place in the eastern stand. He took out cheese and a bannock from his bag, then ate his breakfast while he waited patiently until the late afternoon for the game to start.

The largest crowd was recorded that autumn at a derby against FK Partizan – 74,000 people. Next year, after the stadium was fully completed its capacity increased to 110,000 spectators and it got the unofficial moniker - Marakana, in honour of the famous Brazilian stadium. Apart from the exciting look, the new stadium also featured a magnificent grass pitch with drainage, which made the overall playing experience much more enjoyable.

First official goal on Red Star's Marakana was scored by Trifun Mihajlović in a youth match between Red Star and Jedinstvo from Zemun, a prelude to the first league match with NK Rijeka. First official top division goal is a deed of Vukoja from Rijeka while Dusan Maravic scored Red Star's first ever goal at Marakana with the tying effort in the same game.

Still on the subject of records, according to the number of tickets sold, Marakana saw its largest crowd on April 23, 1975 at the Cup Winners Cup semi-final home leg against the Hungarian side Ferencváros (2:2). There were officially 96,070 spectators in the stands that night with purchased tickets, but it is believed that the stadium was filled to the maximum allowable capacity which at the time was 110,000.

In the years since, Marakana‘s capacity was gradually decreased. Following different modernisation touch-ups more seats were put in each time. During mid 1990s in order to meet UEFA demands for spectators' comfort and security, standing places at the stadium were completely done away with. Seats were installed on all 4 stands so that the Marakana‘s maximum capacity today reaches 51,538.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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