60 YEARS AGO SLAVIA OPENED ITS NEW STADIUM IN EDEN
In 1950 Slavia had to leave Letná due to the construction of a monument to the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin. A site in Vršovice in a place called Eden, where there used to be a pond, was chosen for the construction of the new stadium.
The new stadium was opened 60 years ago on 27 September 1953 and the first match played there was between Dynamo (as Slavia was then called) and the military club Křídla vlasti Olomouc. The match ended 1:1 and the first goal at the new stadium was scored by the then forty-year-old Josef Bican.
After the club was forced to leave Letná when in 1950 the old stadium was demolished as it interfered with the plans for the construction of Stalin’s monument, our club found a new refuge in Vršovice where the main wooden stand from the Letná stadium built in 1948 was also moved to. The stadium with a capacity for 38,000 spectators and an athletics track was opened by the former mayor, Václav Vacek. Apart from the old wooden grandstand, all other places around the stadium were standing only and the stadium did not offer much in the way of comfort. The new stadium’s premiere also had a bitter taste because Slavia at that time had to play under the name Dynamo and also was not allowed to play in its traditional red and white jerseys.
The ”new” stadium in Eden did not enjoy many good times. In 1961 and 1963 Slavia was relegated from the First Division and also in the 1970s and 80s it was only an average team. A record attendance of more than 40,000 spectators came to Eden in 1965 for a match with Plzeň which would decide on promotion to the First Division. The stadium’s most joyous moment was probably winning the title in 1996.
But gradually the stadium ceased to serve its purpose and at the end of the 1960s thoughts turned to the construction of a new stadium. Construction came close in the late 1980s but after various administrative delays the necessary funds could not be found. At the beginning of the 1990s when it looked as though construction work might start Slavia briefly played its home matches at Bohemians’ ground and in 2000 moved to Strahov, a location that the club’s fans never grew to love. Slavia played its last match at the Eden stadium on 13 May 2000. The team bid farewell to Eden with a 4:1 victory against České Budějovice and the last goal scored at the old Eden was from a penalty by Pavel Horváth.
In 2004 the old wooden stand was demolished and two years later after some delay the foundation stone of the new stadium designed by the architect Martin Kotík was laid in Eden. The dream of many generations of fans of Slavia football team came true in May 2008 when the new stadium was officially opened with a friendly match between Slavia and Oxford University.
The stadium, which is now called the EDEN ARÉNA and which cost a billion crowns to build, stands on the site of the original Eden and the playing surface is situated exactly as before. The ground has a capacity for almost 20,000 spectators. The largest crowd for a football match at Eden was on 17 May 2008 when Slavia played Jablonec in the 30th round of the top division winning the title for the first time in 12 years. But the stadium does not belong to the club and it lives its own life.