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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » February 6, 2008
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National Stadium Ready to Roll
February 6, 2008 By W.Ż.    
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The government Jan. 31 unveiled plans for a national stadium in Warsaw.

The stadium is to be the venue for the opening match of the Euro 2012 European soccer championships. European soccer's governing body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), has sternly criticized Polish and Ukrainian delays in preparing for the tournament. Officials from the relevant government departments of both countries, however, are confident that they will be ready on time.

The project designers, JSK Architekci, presented plans and a model of the stadium, complete with a facade designed as a fluttering Polish flag. A company official gave assurances that the facility will meet all UEFA criteria. The new stadium will be built on the earthen embankment of the capital's Dziesięciolecia Stadium. The pitch will be about eight meters higher than the existing one with underground parking for 1,700 cars. Existing tunnels will provide access to the parking garage. The facade will be made of transparent materials to give spectators a view of the city while viewers can get around via two arcades encircling the complex. There will be a permanent roof over the stand while the pitch will have a light cover that will unfold from the inside out. The stadium will have a seating capacity of 55,000.

Construction is scheduled to commence in March 2009 and finish in the fall of 2011. Preliminary work to reinforce the grounds with 20,000 stakes should be under way by September. The German consortium, led by JSK Architekci, has designed many similar projects in Germany, Poland, China and South Africa. In Poland, the consortium designed the Legia Warszawa soccer stadium and has won the tender to design the Wrocław stadium.

The latest UEFA report on the Euro 2012 preparations is a rap over the knuckles for Poland. Polish authorities have been roundly criticized for insufficient progress in building stadiums, freeways and airports. Even worse is what the report says about the country's lack of organization and its level of political incompetence and interference. Poland had three sports ministers in the space of a year and UEFA claims the government has been unable to devise a workable cooperative arrangement with the Polish soccer association.

UEFA president Michel Platini warned that further delays over the next five to six months may result in Poland and Ukraine losing the right to host the tournament. Italy and Scotland are standing by.

The Minister for Sport and Tourism Mirosław Drzewiecki has been at pains to play down the report, pointing out that the UEFA officials visited Poland in November and that much has changed since then. Apart from the National Stadium, the Wrocław design is at an advanced stage and Gdańsk is soon to announce its stadium designer. "After two months, the findings of the UEFA report are out of date. There's every reason to be optimistic that Poland and Ukraine will be able to organize the championships," said Drzewiecki.

The minister also said that Prime Minister Donald Tusk was due to sign cooperative agreements with Ukraine over joint ventures and Euro 2012 on Feb. 26 during a visit to Kiev.
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