Back in 2008 the centre of the Polish city of Łódź looked nothing like it does today. It would be 2010 before real change and urban development began to be felt.
Łódź is a huge city and one with large housing estates for upwards of 40,000 residents. The construction of other housing estates began in 1951 after the post-war period and the city increased population wise four fold thanks to a lack of damage during the war.
In addition to the still dominant industrial textile functions, Łódź become a large scientific, academic and cultural center.
With the downfall of the communist era the economic crisis of the 1990’s had many positive consequences but many of which took some time to be felt. It caused an increase in the importance of the services sector, including services of metropolitan (regional) significance. It also forced the restructuring of industry and the creation of ideas for special economic urban and living zones, which over time attracted new investors.
At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, Łódź began to develop again, but not as a “textile center”. In 2010, the reconstruction of the downtown area near the Łódź Fabryczna station began and a new Central Łódź district emerged.
ŁKS Łódź was founded in 1908 but it would be the 1990’s before the club reached its greatest heights enjoying a Champions league qualifier night against Manchester United. During the powerful 70’s and 80’s the club had largely played second fiddle to local rivals Widzew Łódź.
After battling severe financial and organizations problems for years, LKS Lodz was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2013 after finding themselves floudering in the second tier. The private investors who were sold the club in 2010 had been unable to save this Polish sports institution from collapse.
On and off the field the club struggled.
While Poland had enjoyed and showed off its newly developed stadium to the world during the 2012 UEFA European Championships the city of Lodz had not been chosen as a host. For many years the long-awaited renovation of the stadium had been cancelled in part due to the decline of the club’s fortunes on the pitch.
While it was estimated that it would take 10 years for the club to bouce back to the top tier of Polish football by 2019 the club were once again in the Ekstraklasa. However the global disaster of Covid19 has subsequently seen the club relegated back to Liga 1 (second tier) for the 2020-21 season.
ŁKS Łódź stadium
It was in the 1920s that the then pride of the city of textile workers – the Lodz Sports Park – was first created.
The advantage of the location was said to have been the proximity of a tram line stop. One of the founders of the Lodz Sports Club, Henryk Lubawski, said in the early 1930’s that the pitch “became the foundation of the future normal development of Ł.K.S.”.
During the 1950’s, the stadium’s capacity was increased by raising the terracing embankments, and in 1958, when the club celebrated its 50th anniversary and the footballers’ first Polish championship, the ŁKS Stadium Construction Committee was established.
From an architectural point of view, engineer Jerzy Hryniewiecki was responsible for the design, assisted by Stanisław Kowalski and Bolesław Marczyk. A few years later, in the place of the wooden stand, a new concrete structure was erected.
In 1970, the facility could accommodate over 35,000 spectators and in that year the players of ŁKS played their first match in Łódź under artificial floodlight lighting.
Despite some developments by 2000 the non-modernized aging facility was deteriorating badly like most of the centre of the city. A flea market sat behind one end of the stadium and the ground was deemed not to be fitting for a modern Polish club with both domestic and European ambitions.
The old facilities were demolished in 2014 and replaced by a single stand which had a capacity for 5,700.
On June 28, 2017, the Mayor of the City of Łódź announced at a special press conference that the City Stadium was to be expanded turning the home on LKS into four-sided facility. The new site is adjacent to the original stadium and is unrecognisable from the original construct.
By 2000 many Polish football stadiums were seen as being out of bounds to many people. Stadia were almost always rundown, graffiti strewn and inhospitable to visitors.
In contrast – just like the cross town Widzew stadium of its city rivals – this is a municipal stadium fit for football, rugby and concerts accessible to all.
The vast majority of ŁKS supporters wanted the new LKS stadium to be named after Władysław Król, the most legendary football and sporting player of the club.
However given the stadium is controlled by the city, at the moment is simply known as the Stadion Miejski ŁKS Łódź – ŁKS Łódź Municipal Stadium.