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  • Peter Miles

Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena – Dinamo Tbilisi

Photos by Peter Miles, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena 2 Akaki Tsereteli Ave Tbilisi 0112, Georgia

Year Opened: 1976

Capacity: 54,549


Visiting a Boyhood Dream

There was a time when Dinamo Tbilisi were a real European powerhouse. State sponsored by the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs, they had some magical players that formed the backbone of the Soviet national team. The likes of Aleksandre Chivadze, David Kipiani, Vitaly Dareselia, Tengiz Sulakveledze, and Ramaz Shengelia won many Soviet caps between them. Four of them would win Soviet Union Footballer of the year award between 1977 and 1981. Their zenith in European competition was their 1981 Cup Winners Final win over East German side Carl Zeiss Jena. From the formation of the Soviet Top League in 1936 to the breakup of the Union in 1991, Dinamo were one of only three clubs never to be relegated from the top flight, the others being Dynamo Moscow and Dynamo Kiev. Dinamo Tbilisi’s undoubted star player in those early years was Boris Paichadze who scored over 100 goals for them and was voted Georgia’s greatest player of the 20th century. Dinamo’s home stadium is named after him and his statue stands outside the entrance gates. Since their 70’s heyday, Dinamo continue to produce wonderfully talented players who progress to a bigger stage like Temuri Ketsbaia (Newcastle United), Shota Arvaladze (Rangers), Kaka Kaladze (AC Milan), Georgi Kinkladze (Manchester City), and Levan Kobiashvili who enjoyed an extensive career in the Bundesliga with Freiburg, Schalke, and Hertha and is the only Georgian player to date to win 100 international caps. Originally Dinamo played at the old Central Stadium which could only accommodate 35,000, so with the club’s golden era of the 1970’s a bigger venue was needed. The Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Dinamo Stadium, built on the same site, was opened in 1976 and designed by architect Gia Kurdiani. It could hold 75,000 people and contemporary reports suggest an attendance of 110,000 watched Dinamo’s epic win over Liverpool in 1979. In 1995 the stadium was renamed in honour of Georgia’s greatest player Boris Paichadze and an international match against Germany that year also reputedly saw 110,000 gather. In 2006, the stadium was turned into an all-seater arena-style stadium with a drastically reduced capacity of 54,549.

Food & Beverage 1

The kiosks offer chips (3 Georgian Lei, approximately $1.20), nuts (2 GEL), popcorn (2 GEL), Coca-Cola (2 GEL), water (1 GEL), Burn energy drink (3 GEL), and Cappy orange juice (3 GEL).

Kiosks may not always be open, depending on the game, so plan ahead and make sure you have eaten before the match.

Atmosphere 3

The stadium is visually stunning with blue and white seats all around and the club “D” badge picked out on the opposite side of the main stand. The entrance is easy to access and has a statue of Boris Paichadze at the gates.

There is a PA announcer and music is blared out before the game. There is a scoreboard that shows the team line ups at the start of the game, then displays the score interspersed with adverts.

Neighborhood 5

Tbilisi is separated into old and new town and both are walking friendly and easy to navigate. Taxis are cheap and plentiful around the stadium.

There are many choices for restaurants offering western dishes as well as hearty traditional fare.

Tbilisi is a buzzing and vibrant modern city with an obvious tourist market. The stadium is very central to great nightlife, restaurants, and attractions.

There are plenty of choices with the recommended hotel being the closest to the stadium. There are more options over the river in Mtkvari where Hotel Iliania, Radisson Blu, and City Partner Hotel Primavera are good value options.

Fans 3

The small band of Tbilisi ultras are entertaining and passionate. The fans housed in the main stand are subdued by comparison.

The Georgian League is not well attended in general and this powerhouse club only averages between 1,000 and 1,500 spectators for a league game.

All supporters are housed in the main stand except for the small band of around 50 Dinamo ultras in the far corner who bang drums, light a flare or two, and display banners supporting the disputed territory of Abkhazia. During my most recent visit, about fifteen minutes into the game the police scurried towards one end of the stadium, and suddenly around 50 fans from opponents FC Samtredia arrive. Sadly a handful of them choose to display an “M13 Ultras” banner with a prominent swastika. Disappointingly there was also no attempt to remove it.

Access 4

There are few more centrally located stadiums in Europe, and it couldn’t be easier to reach. As the crowds are low for league matches there is no restriction from moving around within your section.

The stadium is centrally located and also within easy walking from the city center and central rail station, which is less than half a mile away.

You can catch a bus if you don’t feel like walking and the numbers 11, 15, 20, 21, 27, 33, 46, 84, and 86 all serve the stadium. The nearest bus stop is on Akaki Tsereteli Avenue.

If you are not located in the city center, then there is a metro system. The two nearest stops to the stadium are Station Square 1 on the Akhmeteli–Varketili Line (Red line) or Station Square 2 which is on the Saburtalo Line (Green line).

Tbilisi International airport is around 10 miles southwest of the center and is a modern facility with many international airlines arriving there.

There is only street parking available around the stadium. Probably the best option for arriving by car is to park at the central station and walk from there.

There are ticket kiosks to the side of the main entrance and the tickets are very cheap indeed costing 2 GEL (80 cents). There is a cursory bag check at the entrance but it is very low key. There is a lengthy list of items that are not permitted in the stadium on Dinamo’s website, including flags and flares, but in reality these are present in the stadium.

You can sit anywhere in your ticketed section for league games as there are so many seats to choose from. Everything is clean and modern and as the Georgian National stadium it’s also UEFA compliant for disabled spectators.

Return on Investment 5

It has been a bit of a boyhood dream to visit this stadium such was the awe the name of Dinamo Tbilisi was held in when I was young. To walk to this legendary stadium and enter it for so little money is a real treat. Tickets for the main stand are 2 GER (80 cents), which represents an extremely good value. The VIP seat tickets were 5 GER.

Extras 4

The club have an English media manager and have adopted a few things used to promote the club. They issue a modest, but glossy and attractive programme for 1 GEL (40 cents) and also have an English language Twitter feed.

Final Thoughts

The Dinamo Arena is a legendary venue, steeped in history, but also very modern. You will certainly enjoy a visit to this stadium and great city should you choose to make the trip.

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