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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 8, 2008
The £ód¼ Voice
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Getting a Piece of the Euro 2012 Pie
October 8, 2008   
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£ód¼, Be³chatów, Kleszczów, Uniejów and Poddźbice are some of the cities in £ód¼ Region that are hoping to secure a slice of the Euro 2012 pie. This is after Poland's parliament last September passed a law to speed up the construction of stadiums, sports infrastructure and roads for the Euro 2012 European soccer championships to be hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

The £ód¼ Region government has been strongly committed to the Euro 2012 project since the beginning. In April last year, members of the £ód¼ Region Assembly set aside zl.1 million for the promotion of Euro 2012 in the region. The £ódzkie Euro 2012 project was developed at the £ód¼ Region Marshal's Office as an initiative by the Marshal of Lodz Region, W³odzimierz Fisiak. The project was launched April 25, 2007, when 50 sports officials, politicians and cultural leaders signed a letter of intent to work together for Euro 2012. The following cities joined the initiative: £ód¼, Be³chatów, Uniejów, Zgierz, Wieluń, Brzeziny, Kutno, £źczyca, £owicz, Poddźbice, Kleszczów and Spa³a.

Each national team participating in Euro 2012 will play on at least two stadiums in Poland. The city of £ód¼ and the region will be easily accessible to soccer fans thanks to the rapid modernization of road, rail and airport infrastructure. The objective of the project is to show £ód¼ Region as a reliable partner for the Polish Football Association (PZPN) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in organizing the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament.

"The first results of the £ódzkie Euro 2012 project are already visible. One of them is the integration and mobilization of the whole region around the tournament idea and interest in promoting the cities involved in Euro 2012," says Przemys³aw Andrzejak, former Commissioner of the £ód¼ Region Board for Euro 2012 and now acting director of the Promotion and Foreign Relations Department of the £ód¼ Region Marshal's Office. "A series of meetings held by Fisiak and his aides with sporting, city and community officials led to the construction of training centers in Uniejów and Be³chatów as potential places of accommodation for national teams taking part in the Euro 2012 tournament. Another sports infrastructure project is a city soccer stadium in £ód¼ for 35,000 fans. We are waiting for a decision by £ód¼ Mayor Jerzy Kropiwnicki concerning the stadium's location and when the project will get under way."

Each Euro 2012-related project in the region will include sports infrastructure for training matches and accommodation for soccer players, sports officials and the media. The costs range from zl.100 million to zl.200 million. The stadium in £ód¼ will be several times more expensive to build, costing up to zl.1 billion.

The new training complexes will offer an opportunity to isolate soccer teams from the outside world so that they can prepare for the tournament in peace. In line with UEFA requirements, such facilities should be built outside large urban centers.

Local government officials in Uniejów are leading an effort to secure the right to host Euro 2012. The city has already prepared a design for a soccer training center. An agreement on joint work between the Soccer Training and Tournament Center in Uniejów and the £ód¼ Football Association and soccer clubs in £ód¼ Region was signed on Sept. 10, 2007 under the auspices of the £ód¼ Region marshal. Uniejów wants to set aside zl.50 million for the construction of the Maxi Futbol soccer center. It will be combined with a hot spring complex, whose construction will cost zl.150 million.

W³odzimierz Smolarek, a retired soccer player who once played for the Widzew £ód¼ soccer club and the Polish national team, is involved in the undertaking. "National teams but above all children and young people would be able to use the center," says Smolarek, who won a bronze medal at the World Cup in Spain in 1982 and has been coaching under-21 players at the Feyenoord Rotterdam club in the Netherlands for more than 10 years now. Local officials hope that Smolarek's involvement will help promote the Maxi Futbol center in Uniejów.

While in Uniejów, Fisiak said that the region government had transferred zl.100 million for the construction of the sports and recreation center in the town. "Uniejów is a town of many initiatives, including ones to exploit its hot springs and build a modern training center," said Fisiak.

Be³chatów and Kleszczów want to carry out a similar project together. They have submitted a proposal to the Region Marshal's Office to build a sports complex in Kleszczów and a stadium for soccer and track-and-field events in Be³chatów for 15,000 spectators.

Be³chatów County and the Be³chatów lignite mine are also involved in the project. The mine has set aside zl.100 million for the modernization of its sports and recreation center in Wawrzkowizna. A four-star hotel, three training pitches, and other facilities will be built in the center.

£ód¼ sports clubs are also mapping out plans for the expansion of their sports infrastructure. The Widzew £ód¼ club has to modernize its stadium to meet new UEFA requirements that will come into force next year. The city authorities may soon make a decision on the modernization of another stadium in £ód¼, one belonging to the £KS £ód¼ club. Work to modernize facilities used by the Orze³ £ód¼ club is also being considered.

Other local governments are also strongly committed to promoting Euro 2012 in the region. Poddźbice and Zadzim plan to stage an International Soccer Festival for the Disabled in 2011. Ahead of this event and the Euro 2012 tournament, local authorities have started making efforts to build a training and accommodation complex in Poddźbice. The complex would be used by participants in the 2011 soccer festival and a year later by national teams taking part in the Euro 2012 tournament. The complex could also be used as a venue for meetings, training courses, conferences and physiotherapy for athletes. Tourist facilities to be developed there could be used to organize vacations and team-building camps for children and young people as well as weekend stays combined with beauty and spa treatments and physiotherapy for anyone interested.

Tomasz Pro¶niak

Marshal's Office of the Lodz Region, 8 Pilsudskiego Avenue, 90-051 £ód¼, Poland, info@lodzkie.pl; www.lodzkie.pl
tel. +48-42 663 36 00
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