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September 9, 2021, 13:01

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General view of the Big Sports Arena of the Central Stadium named after V.I. Lenin in Luzhniki on the day of the opening ceremony of the XXII Summer Olympic Games. Photo by Yuri Korolev. 1950s. Main Archive of Moscow

The Moscow Main Archive tells how the audience’s interest in sports events was increased.

Central stadium named after V.I. Lenin (now the Luzhniki Olympic Complex) was built in the shortest possible time in 1956. It took only 450 days for the USSR to have the largest stadium with a capacity of 105 thousand people. However, two years later, attendance at sports and other events at the stadium dropped. The Main Archive of Moscow found information on how they corrected the situation and increased the interest of spectators in sports events.

In 1958, the number of fans at the stadium decreased – the organizers were unable to achieve full loading of the stands, and the average attendance of football matches held at the stadium was about 28 thousand spectators. Even an advertising campaign for sporting events of that time did not produce any results.

Due to low attendance, it was not possible to fulfill the ticket sales plan. This directly affected the budget of the stadium and the organizations that held the competition there. In addition, financial difficulties also affected the state budget, which in the first half of 1958 missed taxes by 600 thousand rubles.

As a result, an alternative approach was developed. They began to use it even before the release of the official decision of the Moscow City Council. So, at the Central Stadium named after V.I. Lenin’s audience regularly raffled off memorable gifts – various types of inexpensive industrial goods.

The results were not long in coming. According to preliminary results, it turned out that the draws really contributed to the growth of the stadium attendance. It increased by an average of 13 thousand people and continued to grow. Interestingly, cheaper tickets are in great demand.

In addition, thanks to the draws, the gross collection increased by approximately 130 thousand rubles, while the value of prizes for one competition ranged from seven to 15 thousand rubles.

As a result of such a successful move, the Moscow City Council in September 1958 allowed the stadium management to hold such draws during sports and entertainment events, and also established their total cost, which could only be exceeded with permission and in exceptional cases.

Everyone benefited from such innovations – the Government, the organizations that held the events, the management of the stadium itself and the audience. Now visitors could not only watch the victories of their favorite athletes, but also become participants in a kind of competition.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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