End of an era: Bohemians play last season at legendary Prague stadium

19-04-2010

For fans of the Prague soccer club Bohemians 1905, the year 2010 is shaping up to be the end of an era. Due to several architectural shortcomings that would cost millions of crowns to fix, the club will have to leave its storied Ďolíček stadium in Vršovice. But some Bohemians fans believe that the real reason behind the club’s move is a different one. Sarah Borufka reports.

For nearly 80 years, fans of the Prague soccer team Bohemians, renamed Bohemians 1905 in 2005, have been feeling at home in Ďolíček, an old-fashioned soccer stadium in the city’s Vršovice neighborhood. But this season will be the team’s last one there. Filip Šebek is a leading member of the Bohemians’ fans’ association; he says the move from Ďolíček will be the end of an era.

'Ďolíček', photo: Kristýna Maková'Ďolíček', photo: Kristýna Maková “It’s an integral part of the team. The stadium has existed in the same place for 78 years. During all this time, the Kangaroos, as we call the Bohemians, have been playing there, during the fascist regime, the communist regime. For me, it’s a very sad and incredible thing that twenty years after the revolution, they have to move.”

The decision to sell the ground, which has a capacity of 6,000, has come from the CTY group, a development firm which owns the majority of shares in the club. The reason? Ondřej Oravec is the director of the CTY group:

“At this moment, our current situation with the stadium is that the stadium does not fulfill the requirements of the football authorities, therefore the stadium would require an immediate and urgent reconstruction. This is not just about the heating of the lawn, but also other elements, such as sanitary changes and security changes. Our company, as the owner of the stadium, does not have the capital to invest additional money into reconstruction.”

Reconstructing Ďolíček to fulfill new criteria for first division stadiums being introduced in two years’ time would cost millions of crowns. Members of the fan club, however, don’t believe that this high sum is the main reason for the move of the team. Filip Šebek again.

“The stadium is on a very lucrative piece of land, especially if you wanted to build flats there. So for me the main reason they are selling the stadium is money.”

Starting next season, Bohemians 1905 may share the nearby modern Eden stadium with Slavia Prague, a solution that most fans oppose. Filip Šebek again.

Eden stadiumEden stadium “I would prefer for the team to play second division at Ďolíček to them playing first division at Eden, definitely. It’s very specific in being a Bohemians fan that the actual football is secondary. For us, what comes first is going to Ďolíček, meeting friends and socializing, to be together in a place which we love. If we play first or second division, that doesn’t matter too much.”

19-04-2010