It happened on Wednesday, February 9, 1961. NK Istra’s fans got to celebrate the opening of the newly renovated stadium with a friendly match between Croatia and the Czech Republic. The stadium was named after Pula’s football legend, Aldo Drosina, but was soon nicknamed “Pula’s box of chocolates.” With a new stadium, NK Istra also got the promise of a bright future for the club.
Football has come a long way in Pula since the 19th Century, when the first football pitches were only meadows in the suburbs of the city. As the popularity of football grew, so too did the number of football pitches. Everything changed on October 28, 1931 when the Prince of Piemont officially opened the city stadium, Campo del Littorio. Located on the same land as the current stadium, Campo del Littorio was part of the modern complex next to the nearby gym, Gioventu Italiana del Littorio, known as Casa Balilla. Over the years, new generations of players stepped onto the grass of Pula’s city stadium to continue the tradition of football.
The evolution of modern football brought with it the need for an updated stadium. The West tribune was the first fan area to be built, but it was soon accompanied by the East, South and North tribunes between March 13, 1993 and April 9, 1995. To celebrate the newly completed additions to the stadium, Istra played in front of crowded tribunes against Hajduk.
14 years later, on March 5, 2009 the old West tribune was demolished to make way for a new concrete one, finally giving Pula’s First Division Club a greatly anticipated start to its new stadium. The friendly match between Croatia and the Czech Republic on February 9, 2011 marked the official opening of the new stadium, but the opening ceremony for the fans took place ten days later, when the Green and Yellow team of Istra hosted Dinamo. Franjo Tepurić scored the first league goal on the new Aldo Drosina field during that game.
From then on, NK Istra has witnessed both small and big matches, joy and grief, happiness and sadness, beautiful plays and breathtaking goals, exciting finals and big wins. Just as the old West tribune stood, its younger “sisters” are now guardians of the future generations of all players and Pula’s football legacy.