Stadium History

French Colonial Period

 

In 1929, Chợ Lớn Municipal Commission decided begin construction of a new stadium in the city. The stadium was originally named Renault Field (Stadium) after the city Commission Chairman at the time - Philippe Oreste Renault. The stadium was opened on October 18, 1931 by an inauguration football match between Cho Lon Police and Gia Dinh Stars with the Cho Lon side taking a 1-0 win. In its early day, the stadium only consisted of one 20-step spectators' stand, which was covered by a reinforced cement roof.  Since its initial inauguration, the stadium saw many football matches between the top teams of the time in Cochinchina and the South Vietnam.  Teams such as Gia Dinh Star, Chinese Cho Lon, Saigon Police or French teams like Cercle Sportif Saigonnais, Stade Militaire and Transitaire.

 

Republic of Vietnam Period

 

1955 – 1975

 

From 1959 to October 1960, new stands and lighting system were added to the stadium while the main stand was expanded. This expansion increased the capacity of the stadium to 16,000 people. The stadium was then also renamed to Cộng Hòa Stadium ("Republic Stadium"). According to reports, female artist Thanh Nga was invited to kick the first ball before the match between the tax officials of the General Department of Taxation and the AJS of the National Police to open the new stadium.  This image, as it appeared in the daily newspapers, is believed to have contributed to the reputation of this female artist. It was renovated again in 1967.

Between 1955 and 1975, the stadium bore witness to a number of major sporting events including an over-capacity 30,000 strong crowd to watch the elimination football match between South Vietnam and South Korea leading up to the 1964 Summer Olympics. In 1966, South Vietnam captured the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia after defeating Burma 1-0 in the final. This Merdeka Cup gold trophy was kept at the stadium afterwards. The trophy was however lost sometime after 30th April 1975 and to this day its whereabouts is not known.

Post Reunification Period

 

1975 to now

 

On September 2, 1975, the stadium was renamed Thống Nhất Stadium ("Reunification Stadium") after a football match between Hải Quan F.C. and Ngân Hàng F.C. took place.  The match was believed at the time to be a potential bloodbath due to the suspected presence of former South Vietnamese military and police personnel playing.  However, the game passed peacefully resulting in a 3-1 victory for the Customs Team. 

 

On 7th November 1976 a friendly match between the Football Department and the Saigon Port Football Team was held.  This was the first encounter between the north and south after the unification of the country.   

In 2002, further renovation was completed to prepare the stadium to host Group B men's football matches at the 2003 Southeast Asian Games.  It was usually home to Vietnam national football team alongside Hàng Đẫy Stadium in Hanoi until 2003 when Mỹ Đình National Stadium was completed.

Until 2017, the stadium has a capacity of 19,450 people.  Since then, the stadium has been renovated in phases. In the first phase, the A1 and A2 sections of the main stand were repainted and a new 1500-lux floodlight system was installed in the last quarter of 2017. In 2018, the playing field was redone and more than 6,700 seats were added to the B, C and D stands. This reduced the capacity of the stadium to approximately 15,000 people.  In 2019, existing seats in stand A will be replaced while new seats will be added to the east and west wing of the stand (A4 and A5.

Between 1975 and now, the ground has been host to Saigon Port FC, Mancons Saigon, Saigon Xuan Thanh, Navibank Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City FC and since 2016, Saigon F.C. selected the Thong Nhat as their home stadium for their first season in V.League 1 after relocating from Hanoi.

©2018 by Darren Smale