Wednesday, June 28, 2006
The World's Largest Stadium
I'm sitting here on the 24th floor of the Corinthia Towers in Prague staring out the window at a beautiful view of Prague (I swear, it's a nicer view than this live webcam, more like this). Atop the hill across the river Vltava, I can see the Strahovský stadion (background in the picture above), the world's largest sports arena. The stadium seats close to a quarter of a million people! The sport field is 63,500 square meters. Compare that to a typical soccer pitch which will run you about 10,000 square meters. They don't use the stadium for events much anymore but Sparta Prague has recently turned it into a training facility with 6 full-size and 2 futsal-sized soccer pitches. Ironically, Sparta's new training facility sits directly beside Stadion Evžena Rošického (mid-ground in the picture above), the home of SK Slavia Prague, Sparta's cross-town rivals. Our meeting is wrapping up at 2pm tomorrow and I plan to spend most of the day wondering around Prague. Perhaps I'll take the funicular to the top of that hill and see if I can get inside the world's largest football stadium.
Last night, after two days of sweltering (mid-90s) heat, it cooled off nicely with a massive electrical and rain storm just about the time we were headed out for our free evening on the town. We ended up ducking into a little Italian cafe near the Staroměstské náměstí, or Old Town square. Just as we finished up dinner, the weather broke for a beautiful evening and we stumbled (too much Gambrinus I guess) into the square where we watched the France v. Spain World Cup match. By the end of the match, when France finally broke it open, there were probably about two thousand supporters in the square, broken out evenly between French, Spanish, and neutrals chanting, singing, and drinking their way to the final whistle. I had a lot of fun at our get-togethers at the Fox and Hound in Cary, but it didn't come close to the atmosphere in the Square last night. My favorite part was when one of my colleagues, a non-soccer-savvy sports fan asked me "Why do the keep singing Yellow Submarine in French?".
At this point, I feel I am a cursed football supporter, so far I have thrown my support behind the following teams -- United States (out), Holland (out), Australia (out), Switzerland (out), Ghana (out), and Spain (out). I'm almost hesitant to declare my allegiance for the next round. Perhaps reverse psychology will work? If so, then Forza Italia!