A brand-new National Athletics Centre is ready to welcome fans for the World Champs in August
This summer, the World Athletics Championships will be held in Budapest, welcoming over 2000 athletes from 200 different countries, all in less than 100 days from now. The purpose-built National Athletics Centre, which is nearly completed, will be the main venue for the competitions. We hope to witness many world records and memorable Hungarian moments during the championships, which will take place from August 19-27.
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the World Athletics Championships at the region’s most state-of-the-art athletics facility! Nestled in the heart of Budapest, Hungary, Central and Eastern Europe, the National Athletics Centre sets the stage for this extraordinary event.
Regardless of where you sit in the purpose-built stadium, every exhilarating moment of the World Championships promises to be an unforgettable experience for fans visiting Budapest. The track surface, known as the “red carpet of world records,” is none other than the renowned Mondo track. It’s no coincidence that Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Karsten Warholm shattered world records on a similarly fast surface at the Tokyo Olympics.
Situated amidst lush greenery on the banks of the Danube, the stadium is conveniently located just 15-20 minutes from the city centre, easily accessible from Budapest’s major hotels. The grandeur of this athletic masterpiece captivates from a distance, but the true marvel unfolds inside the stadium during the nine-day World Champs extravaganza—an unmissable spectacle for all.
A must-see experience for everyone in Budapest
Hungary and Budapest have a 125-year history of hosting world athletics competitions. The two largest outdoor events were the European Championships in 1966 and 1998, which took place at the iconic Népstadion. While it used to be primarily the home of the Hungarian national football team, the athletes also made great use of the home field advantage. The many world records (for example from Sándor Iharos and István Rózsavölgyi) set on the stadium’s track in the 1950s are a testament to this. Budapest has also hosted the World and the European Indoor Championships.
Unfortunately, after the old Puskás Ferenc Stadium, formerly known as the Népstadion, was demolished in the 2010s and rebuilt without an athletics track, there was no stadium left in Hungary that can host a major international athletics event.
However, the NAC, located in the south of Budapest just 15-20 minutes away from the city centre by public transport, will fill this gap and will be the most modern athletics facility in Central and Eastern Europe, serving as a worthy venue for the world’s third-largest sporting event.
The stadium will have a seating capacity of 35,000 people during the World Championships, thanks to the extra stands on the second level, which will provide excellent visibility of all major events on the pitch. These temporary seats will be removed after the Championships, but the 15,000-seat lower level will remain part of the stadium.
The National Athletics Centre will also be available for international training and competitions. It will be a modern, state-of-the-art facility, reminiscent of the crown of the Queen of Sports. After the World Championships, it will be transformed into a leisure and sports centre open to the public throughout the year.
The Centre will not only be a home for professionals but also for amateur athletes and those who want to relax. The upper ring will be converted into a running track and an outdoor gym, complemented by a buffet, walking and other sports facilities, with a panoramic view of the Danube in the background.
The National Athletic Centre and its surroundings will be completely renewed as a brownfield project, creating a reborn green park with wooded greenery in the place of the former industrial, polluted area between November 2020 and spring 2023.
This section of the Danube riverbank used to be inaccessible due to industrial pollution in the area, which also significantly harmed the water quality of Europe’s second-longest river. The creation of a park, which includes the athletics center, will benefit not only sports enthusiasts, but also make the Danube riverbank accessible to everyone. This will allow runners, sports enthusiasts, and families to safely and enjoyably spend their leisure time there.
Previously, the skyline of Budapest included an 18-storey, 57-metre-high tower, which was part of the local waterworks. This tower was demolished on December 10, 2020, using 3000 charges placed within its reinforced concrete structure. Afterward, excavation work began on the site, with almost 100,000 cubic metres of earth being excavated for piling work up to the foundations of the stadium building alone. This amount of earth would form a pile of roughly 20 metres high, covering an area the size of Puskás Arena.
After the foundation was completed, a total of 56,000 cubic metres of backfilling was done to bring it to the correct level. Additionally, 100,000 cubic metres of earthwork was carried out within the inner area to level it, along with 55,000 cubic metres of backfilling. To complete the infrastructure, 105,000 square metres of paving stones were put in place, requiring 1000 truckloads of material. Furthermore, a total of 11km of pipelines were laid for the stadium’s utilities, extending from the stadium to Budaörs.
The area is quite small due to the HÉV tracks and the road connecting Csepel to the Közvágóhíd. To address this issue, two underpasses were built: one 14 metres wide for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars, and the other, 40 metres wide for fans attending the World Champs.
Aside from the stadium, the newly refurbished area features a striking new pedestrian bridge. Athletes will use this 168.9-metre-long bridge to access the stadium from the warm-up area on Csepel Island during the World Champs. After the event, the bridge will be accessible to all, including a cycle path from Csepel to the city centre. This bridge will be a real eye-catcher, with its 70m-high pylon, 53 suspension cables, and three back cables.
The National Athletics Center required a staggering amount of concrete. For the 2600 piles supporting the stadium frame alone, 1200 tons of reinforcing steel and around 13,000 cubic metres of concrete were used, and for the superstructure, a further 4,300 tons of reinforcing steel and around 40,000 cubic metres of concrete were needed.
The stadium and the orientation of the running track were designed with consideration of the prevailing north-south wind direction in this stretch of the Danube. The section visible from the grandstand is not very different from other athletics stadiums, except for the extra pole vaulting ramp built parallel to the back straight. This is where the men’s pole vault finals will take place on the evening of August 26th, separately from the qualifying and women’s events.
A running corridor has been created under the grandstand on the home side of the finish line, separated from VIP guests by a glass wall. Distinguished guests can take a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s best athletes as they make their final preparations before stepping into the stadium spotlight.
The company responsible for constructing the stadium will conduct monthly ecological walks on the site to protect the local wildlife, such as beavers, bats, and various bird species, as well as valuable trees. Trees within and around the construction area are shielded with cages and monitored regularly.
The builders, in collaboration with landscape architects and experts, have identified native tree species that have been nurtured in nurseries for several months and are now being planted in the area. In honour of the greats of Hungarian athletics, the area has been renamed the Park of Legends, with nearly 500 trees and 18,000 shrubs planted in recent months.
In mid-April, the Mondo covered running track, the only one of its kind in Hungary, was installed. At the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, McLaughlin-Levrone and Warholm achieved world records on a similar surface. The National Athletics Centre (NAK) features nine lanes not only in the 100m straight but also on the entire 400m lap instead of the usual eight. This is where the superheroes will perform their athletic feats during the most important athletics event of the year, between 19 and 27 August, arriving in Budapest.
To purchase tickets and packages for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, please click here.