Donetsk gets a stunning new stadium, and an old haunt crumbles

I didn’t drink beer when I lived in Ukraine in the mid-90’s, but I could tell from the scent that it was cheap and nasty.

That’s all changed… today, good beer is available in many varieties, both imported and local. We stumbled upon a little beer store that had 50 beers on-tap, ready to bottle… on-demand to take home. We sampled a few.

Donetsk is now home to a stunning, beautiful modern soccer stadium right in the middle of town. It was completed last year at a cost of about $350 million US dollars. Soccer is really a big deal in this town… and the local team is supposed to be pretty good. The new stadium will host some of the matches during the upcoming 2012 Euro cup, which will bring many thousands of tourists to the city.

Todd and I escaped by taxi for a mini-tour of Donetsk. It was interesting to see how much the town has changed. Over time, it looks like “all-things Soviet” have been scrubbed and replaced, to an extent. In general I’ve observed a lot less stark and red; more bright and airy. Modern Euro-style is the motif now. It feels not unlike Poland… but with Ukraine’s signature blue and yellow colors everywhere.

We stopped to see Dom Kino, a former cinema that I have a personal connection with. When I arrived in Donetsk in 1993, it was vacant and beat-up. The church leased it, and we worked hard to clean and restore it. Finally it was converted into a meetinghouse. I have many fond memories there.

It was never particularly *nice*, but in its time, it was a safe haven for us. It was “our place,” and we protected it and treated it as our own. I met some genuinely good people there. Listening to Sunday School lessons here helped me learn to speak Russian.

Fast-forward to 2012. I arrived to find Dom Kino in ruin. The front facade was still intact, looking exactly how I remember it, but its front steps were crumbling and the windows were broken. Initially it just appeared abandoned, vandalized and in decay. But a walk around the building revealed a more dramatic fate. The main hall was burned badly, and everything but a few walls have collapsed. We could see the old entry doors, a stairway, even the old projection booth and main stage.

I wish we could’ve entered to look closer, but it looked unsafe… plus there were security cameras on the property, and our cab driver said that the grounds were being actively monitored.

A couple photos are shown here.

No one knew the cause of the fire. The building had a long, full life and it served its purpose. In any case, we accidentally stumbled upon the church’s new meetinghouse a few kilometers away, which was built for the permanent use of local church members.

Ultra-modern stadium goes up; old-school Soviet theatre falls to the ground. Welcome to Ukraine, new and old.

(Please pardon the imperfect writing. It’s a first draft that I’ve been typing on a phone, and not easy to edit.)

Posted via Posterous.

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~ by Mike Y on May 19, 2012.

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