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IN THE QUIRKS


The Planet’s Largest Stadium | By Glen Mikkelsen, CVE


 describing the world’s largest stadium. And where is this behemoth located? Russia? Texas? Nope – the planet’s biggest stadium is located in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It is a facility epic in its magnitude, and fraught with historic North Korean hyperbole. In light   facility. Pyongyang’s “Rungrado First of May Stadium” (also known as the


“May Day Stadium”), was built in response to Seoul, South Korea’s Olympic Stadium, constructed for the 1988 Olympics. Responding to their rivalry with South Korea, North Korea was intent on building a larger, more impressive stadium. Construction took only two and a   mammoth scale. Wikipedia lists the stadium’s capacity as 114,000 people, but other


reports list it as 150,000. Even at 114,00 people, it is still larger than Michigan Stadium (by 6,400 seats), and 7,400 seats more than Penn- sylvania’s Beaver Stadium. The May Day Stadium also has the largest  The most spectacular element of the stadium is its roof. Eleven thousand steel supports create 16 petal-shaped segments resembling    - terior of the stadium. The unique roof was recognized globally and   Inventions of Geneva. Inside the stadium rests one of the largest training complexes ever


built. This includes running tracks, swimming pools, and indoor halls, where athletes prepare throughout the year. The stadium’s inauguration occurred on May 1, 1989 (May Day) as a celebration of North Korea’s International Worker’s Day. The  of Youth and Students. Under the motto of “For Anti-Imperialist Sol- idarity, Peace and Friendship,” the 1989 World Festival hosted youth  with the most recent one held in Sochi, Russia, in 2017). When present North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited in 2013,


  civilized nation.” Major renovations occurred, including installing col- ored seats representing North Korea’s national colors. Also hung were gigantic portraits of his father and grandfather, eternal president and eternal chairman, Kim Il sung and Kim Jong-il, looking down from the bleachers. On October 28, 2014, a special reopening ceremony was held, with a capacity crowd of mostly soldiers in attendance. The May Day Stadium is also notorious for hosting the world’s


largest professional wrestling pay-per-view event of all time. In 1995, World Championship Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling com- bined forces to create the epic “Collision in Korea,” a two-day event, estimated to host a combined attendance of 340,000 people. (Some reports claim there were 190,000 people at one of the matches, al- though wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer claims the attendance total was closer to 160,000 people total). The wrestling card featured Nature Boy Ric Flair and Antonio Ino- ki. Even Muhammad Ali attended as part of the audience. The event


26 Facility Manager Magazine


took place on April 28 and 29, but was not aired in North America until August 4. Japanese television commentator Kuzu Ishikawa said, “We have the Americans … We have the Japanese … In Pyongyang, North Korea! This is wrestling diplomacy at its best.” In For the Win, Ric Flair described performing in the massive stadi-


um. “The atmosphere in the stadium was really intimidating. I didn’t even know they had a facility that would hold [that many people]. It  in the sports minister’s press box.” The stadium is used infrequently for large national soccer matches


 Cup). It is also part of the Pyongyang Marathon. However, its most illustrious events were the Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Per- formance Arirang, also known as the Arirang Mass Games, or the Arirang Festival. The Arirang Festival was a massive gymnastic and artistic festival that typically began in early August and ended in mid-September. -


tival occurring in 2013. The Guinness Book of World Records recog- nized the event as the largest of its kind. The Russian News Agency described the Festival as, “Arirang is a


gymnastics and artistic festival, known as mass games. The extrava- ganza unfolds an epic story of how the Arirang nation of Korea, a country of morning calm, in the Orient, put an end to the history of       The Arirang Festival was a 90-minute celebration of the Worker’s


Party of Korea, its people, its military, and Kim II-sung and Kim Jong- il. With a cast of upwards of 100,000, it was a truly spectacular show. The spectacle was renowned for its massive mosaic images, created by an estimated 30,000 disciplined and well-trained school children. Each student represented a pixel that came together to form the dif- ferent image. These card stunts were on a scale and professionalism not seen anywhere else. When required the students gave the pixels motion, adding to the dynamic quality of the images. These images were accompanied by complicated and tightly choreographed group routines performed by tens of thousands of male and female dancers and gymnasts. American traveler Scott Fisher described the show thusly: “The sights unfolding across from us were amazing. A collage was formed by 30,000 people holding large, colored cards above their heads. With a shout from the director a low roar would roll across the stadium  was like a giant slide show only with the pictures being formed, one  across the whole far side of the stadium every couple of seconds, all coordinated with tens of thousands of other performers on the stadi-  (There was also a “card stunt” at the “Collision in Korea” wrestling


event. Ric Flair recounted, “They had a card show, did you see that? It was like synchronized swimming - the cards showed a couple of


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