Air Albania Stadium: The largest football arena in Albania
Air Albania Stadium, also called “Arena Kombëtare” (“National Arena”), is a modern all-seater football stadium in Tirana. This new arena in Albania’s capital was built in the grounds of the former Qemal Stafa Stadium. With a capacity of 21,690 seats, Air Albania Stadium is the largest sports arena in the entire Albania.
The Construction of Air Albania Stadium
The construction of the new arena began officially on 9 June 2016 with the demolition of the old Qemal Stafa Stadium. The monumental staircase in the old entrance, built by Gherardo Bosio in 1939, was disassembled. This cultural establishment was later reassembled into the new stadium’s entrance making it the only element preserved from the old Qemal Stafa Stadium.
Marco Cassamonti of Archea Associati designed the new stadium’s layout. This design reflected an 8-faceted rectangle with each side allowing access into different functions of the structure. At the south-western corner a tower 112 meters (367 feet) high was built, one of the highest in the country. This tall structure, an integral part of the stadium, functions now mainly as an 80-room five-star hotel. Meanwhile, other facilities in the structure include commercial areas, offices, restaurants, an underground parking with 256 available parking spots, a sports museum, conference rooms, and many more. The evolution from the old grounds to this modern masterpiece is a true testimony of a change management process done right.
The construction of both the arena and its tower were conducted by Albstar Sh.P.K. Upon completion, the structure reached a total gross surface of 54,000 square meters (581,251 square feet). The cost of this investment reached a figure of more than € 75,000,000; the most costly sports structure in the nation. The external facade is particularly impressive, covered with red and black metal panels over a glass coverings. This facade resembles in composition the style of traditional Albanian carpets.
Air Albania Stadium Now
Air Albania Stadium was officially finished on 10 November 2019 with a test friendly match between the women’s teams of KF Vllaznia and KF Apolonia Fier (2-0). Arbiona Bajraktari, scoring the opener of that match, became the first to score at the new arena.
The first official as well as international match took place a week later, on 17 November 2019. That duel between Albania and France, with about 21,000 fans in attendance, finished 0-2 in favor of the French side.
On 25 May 2022, Air Albania stadium hosted the final for the first-ever edition of the UEFA Europa Conference league: A.S. Roma 1-0 Feyenoord Rotterdam. On 25 August 2022, another important sporting event took place: the boxing match of Florian Marku (Albania) vs Miguel Parra Ramirez (Mexico) for the WBC Silver Interim Title. The Albanian eventually came on top to win by unanimous referees’ decision.
In Air Albania Stadium there are three uniform two-ring grandstands, and a one-level central VIP and Media stand. The central stand bears the name “Qemal Stafa”; the one facing the central stand is called “Panajot Pano” in honor of Partizani’s legendary footballer. The two other stands, north and south respectively, are respectively named “Fatmir Frashëri” (KF Tirana’s iconic defender) and “Vasillaq Zëri” (Dinamo’s notable player).
Currently, Air Albania Stadium mainly hosts the games of the Albanian National Football Team. Also, clubs of the capital such as KF Tirana and FK Partizani Tirana often play their home matches in this arena. The space around the arena is also very dynamic with citizens engaging in urban sports.
* Air Albania Stadium features in our top 10 Albanian stadiums *