Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium – FC Pyunik
Photo Courtesy of Football Federation of Amenia
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43
Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium 65 Vardanants St Yerevan 0070, Armenia
Year Opened: 1935
As Beautiful as Mount Ararat Itself
Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium was built between 1933 and 1935 under the auspices of architect Koryun Hakoyan. It was then known as the Dinamo Stadium but after major renovation in 1999, including a new roof, it became known as the Republican Stadium (Hanrapetakan Stadium). However in October of that year, the Armenian Prime Minister and a number of other politicians were assassinated in an attack on the parliament and the stadium was officially renamed as the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium in his honour. It’s a very beautiful stadium with neoclassical colonnades curving seductively around the arena. The external fascia of the main stand is a real architectural treasure. The modern roof could have looked incongruous against the classical lines, but instead it has a beauty of its own which complements the older parts of the stadium. With the mighty Hrazdan Stadium out of commission, all of Armenia’s international matches are now played at the Republican Stadium. It was Armenia’s 2003 match against Spain which produced the stadium’s record gate of 16,000. In 2008, through the Israeli company Green Diversified Ltd, the Republican was brought up to UEFA standard with a new pitch, VIP section, and security systems. In my opinion it is one of the most architecturally important stadiums in Europe and a visit comes highly recommended. FC Gandzasar of the Armenian Premier League were only formed as recently as 2002. Their home stadium, the Kapan City Stadium was opened in 1963 and was also home to Lernagorts Kapan before their demise. In 2013 Gandzasar opened a new training facility on the edge of Kapan, however, lack of facilities at their home stadium means that for the 2017 season at least the club are forced to play their home games in the capital, Yerevan, a six hour drive away. FC Pyunik have achieved so much in a relatively short period of time having been formed as recently as 1992. Initially they were called Homenetmen Yerevan and in their first season they shared the first Armenian Premier League title with Shirak Gyumri. In 1995 Homenetmen rebranded as Pyunik which is the Armenian word for Phoenix. However, the club ran into problems and did not compete in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. The club were reborn in 2001 with a new owner, Ruben Hayrapetyan. Rather than rejoin the League in the second tier Pyunik absorbed First League champions FC Armenicum so they were restored to the Premier League. It was the start of huge success for Pyunik, they would win 10 straight league titles between 2001 and 2010. They have only won one championship since, in 2014/15, but to highlight their domestic dominance their 14 titles is ten more than the next nearest challenger, Shirak Gyumri. Pyunik have also won eight Armenian Cups and nine Super Cups.
Food & Beverage 1
No kiosks of any sort are present in the stadium. The only food available is through vendors selling water, nuts and seeds.
Despite free admission there is a spartan crowd of around 300 at the Republican Stadium. In a stadium which holds almost 15,000 people there is little noise other than the odd barracking of officials over contentious decisions.
The Republican Stadium is really beautiful, with sweeping neoclassical curves and columns. The 1999 roof really sets off the stadium and complements the overall design. There is a stadium scoreboard behind one of the goals. It is fairly modern, but just displays the score. The external fascia of the main stand is a real architectural treasure.
Generally only the main stand is open for league games due to the low attendances.
Yerevan is a compact and interesting city with amazing views to the fabled Mount Ararat (which is actually in Turkey). The stadium is around two miles from central Yerevan so it makes sense to stay in the city and just travel out to the game. It feels like a safe city and I neither saw or heard of any problems whilst I was there.
Around Republican Square there are many restaurants and bars which for a capital city offer good value for your money. There is a relatively new pedestrian area along North Avenue which is vibrant and packed with restaurants and shops.
As you would expect from a capital city there are many interesting things to see. There is the Matenadaran, a museum housing ancient manuscripts and the moving Genocide museum and memorial commemorating the 1915 genocide by Turks on the people of Armenia. The Republic Square area is a vibrant and pleasant place to spend an evening. Away from the city to the north lies Lake Sevan and the stunning south Caucasus mountains. To travel through the mountains we used Hyur Service who were good value and punctual.
All games in the Armenian Premier League are usually free to attend. With widespread corruption in the past all clubs struggle to attract a crowd and the average attendance in a league season is typically less than 500, among the lowest for any European league.
There is no chanting at all, and the atmosphere is very quiet and expectant. During my most recent visit you could even hear the players calling to each other it was so quiet. This is certainly an interesting and unique aspect of this stadium compared to many others in Europe.
It is a one level stadium so you enter at pitch level and climb steps to your chosen row. You enter the stadium on the right hand side of the entrance and you can sit where you like as no admission is charged.
The closest metro station is Zoravar Andranik, which is located less than a mile west of the Republican Stadium. It would take 15 minutes to walk from here. Numerous buses stop close to the stadium at a bus stop called Vardan Mamikonyan on Khanjyan Street. Perhaps the best option is to grab a taxi which will cost less than $5 from central Yerevan.
Zvartnots Airport is around eight miles west of Yerevan, and you can catch bus number 108 into the city centre or hail a taxi, which are very cheap. Your hotel may also arrange a transfer.
There is a car park outside the stadium which for league matches will not be busy.
Entry is free, you just walk in.
There are no concourses so all seats have a pitch view and if you need toilets they are found close to the entrance.
Return on Investment 5
It’s free to get in so you cannot have any complaints. Yes more could be done to raise money from refreshments and souvenirs, but that does not appear to be the Armenian way.
A team sheet is available from the press area, but it will be in the Armenian script known as Arasan.
It is quite a strange feeling going to a match where it costs you nothing and there is no attempt to sell you anything! Then again in terms of aesthetics, the Republican Stadium is up there in my top ten all time stadiums visited.