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Stadion Lokomotiv/Lauta, Plovdiv, Bulgaria – (PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv): Lokomotiv Plovdiv-Botev Plovdiv (1-1) Matchday

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Some more pictures of the Plovdiv derby in the Bulgarian Cup quarterfinals. For more information on the stadium please see my Stadion Lokomotiv/Lauta pictures posted earlier, taken during a visit before renovations were completed.

 

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Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria–(Bulgarian National Team): Levski Sofia-CSKA Sofia (0-3) Matchday

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Some more shots of a snow covered Vasil Levski National Stadium taken during the Eternal Derby between Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia. Bulgaria’s national stadium hosts international matches, UEFA Champion’s League matches, and the Bulgarian Cup Finals with its capacity of 43,230. As is fitting for a National Stadium it is also very easy to access, located in Sofia’s oldest park, the beautiful green Borisova Gradina, in central Sofia near CSKA’s Balgarska Armia Stadium. Construction on the Vasil Levski National Stadium was completed in 1953 after the demolition of two former stadiums on the territory–Levski Sofia’s Levski Field and Yunak Stadium. After the destruction of Levski Field the team was given land outside of the city center where they constructed the Georgi Asparuhov. Since then the stadium as seen a few large scale renovations, most recently in 2002. This year, Ludogorets Razgrad–a team with few fans that have come out of nowhere to appear in the 2014 UEFA Champions League–are playing their European matches here (41,000 came out to see them face Real Madrid). The images are interesting in that they follow the course of events–from snow covered pitch, to cleared pitch, to the fans building up in numbers, to the developments of both teams’ choreos. Also, the way the snow rests on the branches of the trees behind the stands is purely beautiful.

 

 

Stadion Lokomotiv/Lauta, Plovdiv, Bulgaria – PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv

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Another Lokomotiv stadium, this one in Bulgaria’s second city of Plovdiv and home to PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv. Nicknamed the Lauta–after the (surprise) park its located in (this is Eastern Europe after all)–the Stadion Lokomotiv is a classic Bulgarian affair with lots of drab concrete capable of housing 12,000 football fans. The stadium is a walk from the city center, giving it some distance from their rival’s Hristo Botev stadium. Since this visit in the summer of 2010 the stadium has installed floodlights and received a small renovation to one of the stands (you can see some of the work being done in the pictures below). During this visit I was also able to grab a nice Lokomotiv Plovdiv shirt, which can be seen in the “Football Shirts” category.

 

The trees engulf the entry to the stadium:

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LAUTA HOOLS, courtesy of the ultras:

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A new team bus:

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Summer ’tis the season for renovations:

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An old team bus…but a new Mercedes:

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Slavia Stadium/Ovcha Kupel Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria – PFC Slavia Sofia

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Slavia Sofia are one of those teams that I have a soft spot for, in part due to their history. They are, after all, the oldest team in Sofia. Founded in 1913, Slavia have won 7 Bulgarian championships and 7  Bulgarian cups. Their Ovcha Kupel stadium has a capacity of 15,992 and was built in 1930; it has undergone three renovations recently, all before my visit. As such, my pictures are of the current state of the stadium. I visited on a quiet New Year’s day in 2010, when the stadium was covered with snow. A romantic notion to say the least. My Slavia shirt can be seen here.

At least I know where I am:

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Its New Years day in Sofia:

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The author, trying to stay warm:

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Chernomorets Stadium, Burgas, Bulgaria – PSFC Chernomorets Burgas (CLOSED)

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When I visited this forgotten piece of football history, wedged between a highway and the railroad tracks, there was no signage explaining ownership. In fact, one would have been forgiven for thinking that there had never even been a tenant for this ground. The weeds growing through the concrete would back you up on that assumption. Enter: The internet. I learned that this is in fact the old Chernomorets Stadium (its Wikipedia page has a nice picture of the ground under snow) that was built in 1954 and closed in 2006. It supposedly has a capacity of 22,000 but I couldn’t imagine that. Now, its just a reminder of urban decay (something I am personally a huge fan of). Still, a ground is a ground (and I can’t help but think that the weeds add a certain “je ne sais quoi” to this ground–the green contrasts well with the clear blue sky).

Nature reclaims what was once its own:

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Tundzha Stadium/Luskov Stadium, Yambol, Bulgaria – FC Tundzha

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I have fond memories of my visit to Yambol’s Tundzha stadium in the summer of 2009. While Wikipedia lists two capacities for this stadium–5000 and 15000–I’m inclined to believe that 5000 is the true figure. The stadium is located at the end of a beautiful park that is typically Eastern European. The interesting Soviet style apartment blocks provide a strange backdrop to the stands, as can be seen below. The current tenants, FC Tundzha (who take their name from the Tundzha river that empties in Turkey), currently play in the third level of Bulgarian football.

Finding the stadium is, quite literally, a walk in the park:

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The Tundzha River:

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Where is my dictionary when I need it?:

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An interesting–and strange–backdrop:

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The author taking in the surroundings:

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The author posing in the stands:

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Lazur Stadium, Burgas, Bulgaria – PFC Neftochimic Burgas and PSFC Chernomorets Burgas

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This is a bit of a vintage visit by now but hopefully–like a fine wine–its gotten better with age. One of the tenants from the time I visited–Naftex Burgas–has since been disbanded and reformed as the present day Neftochimik Burgas. I spent a long time in the stadium with an official who knew no english, but by way of a little bit of old fashioned body language I was able to convey to him that I wanted a shirt. Since Naftex Burgas was all but disbanded at the time I visited in early July of 2009, he supplied me with a Chernomorets Burgas shirt for which I am very grateful. I can still remember explaining to him that I lived in Austin, Texas, and his eyes widened when I pointed out “Остин” on the map in his office. Later upon returning home I was able to also find a Neftochimic Burgas shirt online.

As for the Lazur stadium it is pretty modern as Bulgarian stadiums go, with a capacity of 18,037 while boasting a 3 star rating from UEFA. Even the Bulgarian national side have played some of their games here, in addition to a few smaller Bulgarian clubs without suitably modern stadiums that qualify for European competition. At the time I visited the seats were yellow and green, to go with Naftex’s colors, but apparently they have been changed to blue (to correspond with Chernomorets’ colors).

Clearly the stadium was due some cosmetic renovations at the time of my visit:

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Some of the more right-wing Naftex hooligans have left their mark:

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3 Star Material in UEFA’s eyes:

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I wonder where this bus is now:

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The bus of the stadiums other tenants:

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