History of the stadium
Athletics have always held quite a particular importance in Finland and in the minds of the finns. The first sports associations were founded as long ago as the end of last century, and from the beginning of the twentieth century the Finnish nation has been animated by great zeal for sports. Finland participated in the international Olympia movement even before the country gained independence in 1917. The Finns’exellent results in the Olympic Games of the 1920s fostered the dream that one day it would be possible to hold the Games in Helsinki.
The Stadium Foundation, established 1927, started to implement this dream, and their first and foremost task was to get a stadium built, witch would permit Helsinki to host the Summer Olympics. Building began on February 12, 1934, and the Stadium was inaugurated on June 12, 1938. Since its completion the Stadium has undergone eight important stages of development. The most important was the total modernization 1990-1994. At its maximum, in 1952, the Stadium accommodated 70 000 spectators. Today, after the basic renovation, the number of spectator places, all of them seats, is 40 000.
The Stadium arena, which has been described as the most beautiful in the world, is the product of an architectural competition. Arhcitects Mr. Yrjö Lindegren and Mr. Toivo Jäntti won the competition with their clearly lined functionalistic style design. The most important events in the life of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium were the XVth Olympic Games, 19. July-3. August, 1952. In the opening of the Olympic Games the spectator record of the stadium was reached 70 435 spectators and the olympic year is still an event which has collected most spectators. Whole year 1952 altogether 850 000 spectators.
The Stadium Building is 243 m long and up to 159m wide. The tower is 72m high. The Stadium covers 4.9 hectares. The Olympic Stadium is administrated by the Stadium Foundation. The Municipality of Helsinki, the Ministry of Education and the central sports organisations are represented in the Board of the Foundation.