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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » March 5, 2008
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Warsaw Gears Up for Euro 2012
March 5, 2008   
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Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz talks to Konrad Bagiński.

How many soccer fans are you expecting in Warsaw in 2012, and how much money will they be spending here?
We estimate that between 150,000 and 200,000 foreigners will be coming to Warsaw for Euro 2012 and that soccer fans will be spending around 80 euros a day on average. It's worth noting that more and more fans are coming to world and European championships without any match tickets. They simply plan to enjoy themselves and savor the atmosphere of a major event. For example, about 5 million tourists will be visiting Austria and Switzerland for Euro 2008, but only 1.4 million of them will actually have match tickets. We will probably see similar figures for Euro 2012.

More than 21 million tourists will be visiting Poland in 2012 compared with 16 million last year, according to current estimates by the Institute of Tourism. Up to a million of them will be watching Euro 2012 matches live.

Will Warsaw be bringing in volunteers to help manage such huge crowds?
Yes, volunteers are indispensable to modern sporting events and they'll be playing a vital role during Euro 2012. Every Euro 2012 host city will need at least 1,500 volunteers to help guests get to where they need to get to and to point out cultural and tourist attractions. The impressions of Poland and Ukraine that soccer fans come away with will depend greatly on volunteers.

Anyone over 18 can be a volunteer. They will have to speak English and one other foreign language, and complete a training course. This is intended to ensure that guests enjoy the best care and service that meets UEFA standards.

We know the National Stadium will be built with public money. But preparing all the necessary training stadiums is also going to be a huge expense for the city. How much is all this going to cost?
We're intending to expand and upgrade the Legia and Polonia stadiums to serve as training facilities. These are Warsaw's two strongest soccer clubs with a tradition going back nearly 100 years. Our plans for Legia include expanding and upgrading the soccer stadium and auxiliary facilities on Łazienkowska Street. We'll be building a stadium there to seat 31,000 between 2008 and 2010. This will meet all FIFA and UEFA requirements and has been estimated to cost zl.365 million.

We have already completed the first stage of upgrading the Polonia Sports Club stadium on Konwiktorska Street. This includes adding a roof to the western stand and modernizing the main building. Subsequent stages will involve modernizing the other stands and the pool, and possibly building a sports hall to seat around 3,000. The total cost could come to zl.270 million. We're also planning to modernize smaller Warsaw sports clubs like Hutnik, Drukarz and Marymont before Euro 2012.

An entertainment and sports hall is also planned for Warsaw as a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement. Can you give us any more details?
The City Administration is finalizing the tender procedures to select strategic advisors for projects involving private partners. Among other things, these advisors will be charged with analyzing projects in terms of the feasibility and justification of carrying them out in partnership with private investors, as well as choosing the best types of PPP for a given project. Downtown carparks could be built as PPP projects, as could entertainment and sports halls.

We are holding preliminary talks today with several investors about the possibility of building a multi-purpose hall seating over 10,000 people as a public-private partnership (or more precisely, as a design-build-operate, or DBO, project).

Warsaw is looking at other, equally important investments, apart from stadiums. Which ones are going to be crucial to Euro 2012?
We're planning to spend zl.15.3 billion on municipal projects by 2012 and a lot of this will be will be directly or indirectly connected to Euro 2012. Transportation projects are the key ones-building the second metro line, new bridges and beltways, and upgrading public transport. Most of these have been on the drawing board for a long time; the championships have just made their completion deadlines non-extendible.

Building the second metro line is going to be our greatest challenge. The first line is due to be completed by the middle of the year. We'll start building the second line in the Praga district next year while simultaneously working on the metro stations using state-of-the-art technology. The central section of the second line has to be operational before the start of Euro 2012.

Warsaw should have two new bridges by the end of 2010. The designs have to be ready by the end of March 2008, when we announce the tender to choose the contractors. This will take a few months, but construction could get underway before the year is out, provided the appeals process doesn't drag on. Work will commence on the eastern part of the city center beltway this year and strategic arteries are going to be upgraded as well.

Apart from these massive transport and sporting projects, the Copernicus Science Center and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews will be completed by 2012. These projects are important for the city's image. Finally, I should mention that the quality of Warsaw's public space is going to improve considerably before the championships.

Is the Polish capital ready to play host to soccer fans today?
No, we're not ready yet. At least a dozen new hotels, each having 200-300 rooms, will have to be built in the city between now and 2012, according to preliminary estimates. Every hotel in every host city is going to be booked out if the average 60,000 people expected at every match is accurate.

Warsaw's hotels are spacious but they mainly cater for business guests. Guests coming for Euro 2012, on the other hand, will mainly be soccer fans and tourists. This means that we need more affordable hotels. We're also planning to put up temporary "Euro 2012 villages."

Warsaw has proposed an incentive for investors to help improve the hotel and tourist base. The City Council exempted new projects from real estate tax Jan. 1. This includes hotels, boarding houses, and tourist and sporting operations. The Investor Service Department has prepared a list of prime locations for new hotels. We are counting on Warsaw's hotel base growing by several dozen percent between now and the start of Euro 2012.

Apart from building road/transport and sporting infrastructure and getting hotels ready, we also have to look at security and medical assistance. A special team headed by one of my deputies is going to be responsible for these matters. Euro 2012 is being planned to the last detail.
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