Seeing Sports in Prague
Prague doesn’t have quite the same reputation as some of its European counterparts when it comes to local sports. However, there are still some wonderful options for tourists who love sports, or who seek them out as local attractions. Despite not having an internationally renowned team like FC Barcelona, or a world-famous stadium like London’s Wembley, Prague has some major sports, excellent venues, and passionate fan bases. All of this makes professional sports a great leisure activity for anyone visiting the city, so below we’ll get into some of the specifics regarding this aspect of tourism in the city.
The Biggest Sports
There are a number of different sports that are popular in the Czech Republic, including some more individual, international sports like tennis. However, two stand above the rest as far as much of the populace is concerned: football and hockey. Despite missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the Czech Republic is often among the better international football nations in the world. Even more so, it's considered to be among the elite in hockey, behind only the likes of the U.S., Canada, and Russia, and in line with Finland and Sweden. Both football and hockey can draw major crowds throughout the country and in Prague.
Sazka Arena. Credit:CLI / CC BY-SA 4.0
The Local Teams
For football, AC Sparta Praha is the local Prague club. First established late in the 19th century, Sparta is the most successful club in the history of Czech football, and still competes in the top flight today (though it’s currently coming off a lackluster season in 2017/18). Where hockey is concerned, Prague actually has two high-end professional teams. HC Sparta Praha plays in the Czech Extraliga, which is the highest division of Czech hockey. And HC Slavia currently competes in the 1st Czech Republic Hockey League, which despite its name is effectively the second professional division below the Extraliga.
The Local Venues
The main sporting venue in Prague is the O2 Arena, formerly known as Sazka Arena. Built in 2004, it’s a beautiful modern stadium that actually hosts a range of different sporting events. For instance, just last year it hosted the inaugural Laver Cup for professional tennis, with some 14,000 fans in attendance. However, it’s primarily a hockey stadium, and the second largest in Europe. Both HC Slavia and HC Sparta Praha play games there, as does the Czech national team. Tipsport Arena (formerly Tesla Arena and T-Mobile Arena) is another hockey venue in the city, though it’s been largely replaced by the O2 Arena for major activity. And as far as football is concerned, the main venue in the city is Generali Arena, which some refer to as Sparta Stadium. Currently 101 years old, the stadium has actually been the home of Sparta since it was first opened, and now hosts national team matches as well.
T-Mobile Arena. Credit: Sundance Kud / CC BY-SA 3.0
Fans & Betting
As you can glean from the above, football and hockey alike inspire passionate followings in the Czech Republic, and in Prague specifically. While crowds can wane for a given event, the aforementioned stadiums can often be packed to enthusiastic capacity for major contest, as well as national team events. As for the betting scene, sports betting is legal in the Czech Republic, which means some fans will choose to make a personal investment in the option. The UK hosts the prominent sites in the sports betting world, for the most part, so a good amount of this activity occurs online - though you can, depending on the platform, find updated odds on Czech sports.
When To Visit
The Czech football season more or less mirrors those of the more internationally recognized Spanish and British leagues. Matches take place from July through May, which really means you can visit for most of the year and plan on having Prague football as a possible option for entertainment. The hockey season, meanwhile, at least in the Czech Extraliga, lasts from October through the winter, meaning it mostly compares to other professional hockey leagues around the world, including the American NHL. Really, this all means that June is the only month out of the year during which sports aren’t prominent in Prague for those who are interested.
Leave a Reply