Lithuania in the News
28th August 2011
Grand Opening of the Imposing “Žalgiris” Arena in Kaunas
Inside the Žalgiris Arena during the opening. Photo courtesy kaunodiena.lt
Ten years in the planning and after three years of construction, the multi- purpose imposing “Žalgiris” arena in Lithuania’s second city Kaunas was finally opened with an impressive show just over a week ago on August 18, in time for the forthcoming 2011 European Basketball Championship August 31 - September 18, 2011, which this year is hosted by Lithuania. The opening was crowned with a friendly basketball match between Lithuania and the current European champions Spain, which Lithuania won impressively 78:66.
The new “Žalgiris” arena is largest and most modern such arena in the Baltic States and one of the most impressive in Europe. It can comfortably seat up to 17,000 people and up to 19,000 at a stretch, has excellent acoustics and the most modern facilities. The arena construction cost about 70 million dollars. More than 70 years ago the 1939 European Basketball Championship was also hosted by Lithuania and for that occasion Kaunas also saw the construction of a sports hall specially designed for basketball (“Kauno halė”), which at that time was probably the most modern sports hall in Europe. One of the few people who was at the opening of the arena this year and also was present at the 1939 championship was Past President Valdas Adamkus, who was happy to reminisce about his feelings as a 12 year old in 1939.
The opening ceremony started with an impressive multi-media spectacle, which employed symbolic Lithuanian themes, with many performers. This was followed by an oratorio “That cosmic basketball feeling”, specially composed for the occasion by Vidmantas Bartulis, to words by poet Gintaras Patackas. It was performed by four leading Lithuanian opera stars with Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas National Choir.
Though the “Žalgiris” Arena will play the leading role in the forthcoming Basketball Championship, the championship will also take place at five other recently constructed sports arenas in Lithuania – in Vilnius, Klaipėda, ŠŠiauliai, Panevėžys and Alytus.

Further information:   www.lrytas.lt 20/08/11   www.kaunodiena.lt 20/08/11