Today 75 years ago Holland’s most famous stadium De Kuip officially opened.
The stadium was a project of Feyenoord president Van Zandvliet, who had ambitious plans with the club. And though people openly doubted whether he could realise his plans for a 65,000-stadium, the Rotterdam city council voted in favour of the project in March 1934.
Two architects were sent on a study trip through Europe for ideas, and returned particularly inspired by Highbury‘s new double-decker stand. From then on Van Zandvliet sped things up, and every time a design was ready he demanded immediate implementation. Which meant that when the stadium was already halfway finished, the final drawings still had to be made.
The stadium was ready in the summer of 1936, but as the Rotterdam government had failed to plan for the surrounding infrastructure, it could not get opened yet.
Instead, Van Zandvliet invited 1,500 marines and unemployed to test the stadium. The men received the order to jump around and act like football fans to test the sturdiness of the stadium. As a reward, they got a drink and a cigar.
Half a year later, on the 27th of March 1937, the stadium finally opened. Van Zandvliet had decided for a Feyenoord friendly in favour of a Dutch national team international to test parking, turnstiles and catering facilities with a limited attendance.
Still, 40,000 people showed up to see Feyenoord beat Belgian side Beerschot 5-2. A month-and-a-half later Holland played its first international at the stadium against Belgium (1-0).
In the meantime the Dutch national team has played over a hundred matches at the stadium, which has also been host to a total of nine European Cup finals. It furthermore hosted the final of the Euro 2000 championships.
But even though the stadium received a major upgrade in the early 1990s, it lacks the facilities of most modern arenas, and Feyenoord has therefore been investigating options to build a complete new stadium.
Currently plans exist for a new 63,000-stadium on the banks of the river Meuse, but the Rotterdam government has consistently postponed a decision about the plans, and it is very unlikely that one will be made soon considering the difficult financial climate. And even under the most ambitious timelines, de Kuip will easily be able to celebrate its 80th birthday.