There have been some amazing new athletics stadiums constructed over the years. Some of which have become unfortunate ‘white elephants’ and relics of famous athletics events like the Olympic Games. There were fears that London’s Olympic Stadium in Stratford would be left dormant after the 2012 Summer Games. However, the arena was later gifted to Premier League side West Ham United on a lease. The Hammers have grown into the stadium, which is now known as the London Stadium. It’s helped them become an established top-flight club, with a genuine shot at a top-seven finish in 2023/24. William Hill prices them as tenth favourites (5/1) to make the top seven. This historic bookmaker is well-regarded by comparison platforms for its customer promotions and competitive sports odds.
There are several other great examples of purpose-built athletics stadiums which have gone on to serve multiple purposes for other sports like football. Below, we explore five of the most atmospheric athletics venues on the world map.
The Bird’s Nest, Beijing
The 80,000-capacity National Stadium in Beijing is commonly known as the Bird’s Nest. Constructed at a cost of $428 million for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Bird’s Nest has also been utilised for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Bird’s Nest nickname was given to the stadium due to its striking steel framework, which looks like a bird’s nest from outside and above.
The men’s and women’s Chinese national football teams now use the Bird’s Nest as their home, which is a good move given that Chinese football is on the rise after the success of the Chinese Super League.
Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
The national stadium of Malaysia is the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. The magnificent arena is the biggest in southeast Asia, with a capacity of over 87,000. In fact, it’s the eighth-largest on the planet. This imposing three-tier arena was designed as the centre piece of the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
It’s had various uses since then, playing host to the Southeast Asian Games three years later and again in 2017. It’s also the home of the Malaysian men’s national football team. Since 2017, a new retractable roof has been fitted, along with enhanced ventilation to future-proof it for music events.
Originally constructed in 1934 for the 11th Summer Olympics, Berlin’s Olympiastadion is one of the most iconic sporting venues in the world, let alone Europe. At the time of the 1936 Olympics, it was said to have achieved a record attendance of more than 100,000. These days, the capacity is somewhat lower at 74,667, but it’s still a hugely impressive venue.
It was reconfigured in 1974 and regenerated in the early 2000s for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The iconic blue running track remains and you’re guaranteed a great view from every seat in the house. Today, it’s the proud home of German Bundesliga football team Hertha BSC.
The 5 July 1962 Stadium, Algiers
This is likely to be the most obscure pick of all the five athletics stadia worldwide, but Algeria’s 5th July 1962 Stadium is a picture-perfect setting for athletics and football. Constructed in 1970 and opened two years later to serve as the centre piece of the 1975 Mediterranean Games and the 1978 All-Africa Games, it’s still at the heart of Algerian sport today.
In 2000, it staged the African Championships in Athletics and in 2010, a record crowd of 110,000 crammed in to watch Algeria’s men’s national football team in action against Serbia.
Olympic Stadium, Athens
Last, but by no means least, the Olympic Stadium in Athens is considered the spiritual home of track and field, given it was the birthplace of the ancient Olympiad. Opened in 1982, the stadium is located in the Athens Olympic Sports Complex in the Athenian suburb of Marousi. It staged the 1982 European Athletics Championships, the UEFA European Cup final a year later and the World Athletics Championships in 1997.
The stadium secured major regeneration around the dawn of the new millennium after securing the rights to host the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. In 2007 it was again centre stage in the UEFA Champions League, playing host to Liverpool’s iconic and unexpected win over AC Milan.