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The Warsaw Voice » Society » May 20, 2009
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Stadion City: An Ambitious Goal
May 20, 2009   
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The second stage of construction work on the National Stadium is well under way. The new facility is going up on the site of the former Dziesięciolecia Stadium, a former multi-function sports complex that in 1989 became Europe's largest marketplace until its closure last year.

The stadium is one of the most important facilities Poland is preparing for the Euro 2012 soccer championships. It will host the opening match of the event and-if Kiev fails to get ready in time-the finals as well.

Narodowe Centrum Sportu (NCS-National Sports Center), the company which is responsible for building the stadium, is planning several more projects in the area as well. By 2015, the Vistula's east bank may change beyond recognition with a new Stadion City complex comprising the National Sports Center, an exhibition and conference center, and a hotel facility. The project is expected to revitalize the whole region which encompasses the Praga district, the Praski Port and the river banks.

The Stadion City concept emerged from an analysis of experiences of other host cities of European soccer championships. These kinds of events invariably provide a boost in terms of investment and tourism. But to make the favorable economic situation last, it is necessary to invest in projects that will reach beyond the requirements of purely sporting events. All stadium projects today provide for nearby commercial facilities. In a bid to emulate such examples as the Arsenal Football Club and the Cardiff International Sports Village, the decision-makers for the National Sports Center resolved to seize the opportunity and set up Stadion City. The JEMS and Dawos studios drew up the architectural concept last summer. At present, the project design is under review at the Ministry of the Treasury.

Stadion City will be handled as a public-private partnership project. The Sejm, or lower house of the Polish parliament, only passed the relevant legislation in March, so the project is a pioneer of this kind of joint undertaking.

"The report drafted by the Colliers International Poland commercial real estate consultants for the National Sports Center company reveals about 90 percent of national stadiums worldwide are unprofitable and become financial burden for the respective cities and their residents," said Alex Kloszewski, partner and director of the hotel department at Colliers International. "Therefore, relieving the Treasury of a part of the burden by private capital engaging in the project is very important. I hope that the venture's success will help make this form of new infrastructure financing more popular in Poland," he added.

In addition to the stadium, plans for the project include a four-star hotel with 350-400 rooms, an entertainment center of 10,000 sq m, a multifunction convention facility seating an audience of 18,000 and an exhibition center of 20,000 sq m. A further area of 25,000 sq m will have shopping and office facilities. Incorporating a residential complex of 40,000 sq m in the Stadion City is also being considered. Colliers experts expect that the complex, when completed, should create nearly 1,500 jobs for Warsaw.

Along with forecasted financial benefits, the Colliers report analyzes incalculable advantages of the entire project, such as enhancing the competitive edge of the city, increasing its prestige and improving its ability to organize large events, mainly conferences for at least 1,000 participants.

The report stresses that Warsaw is badly lagging behind in this respect whereas its competitors, including Prague, Budapest, Berlin and Vienna, have much more to offer potential organizers. But the investment boom and the media publicity connected with the preparations for Euro 2012 may become a factor arguing for the expanded concept.

A matter of concern is whether the required tasks will be carried out on time, or whether in 2012 the stadium as well as its surroundings will still be a huge construction site.

NCS President Rafał Kapler has said that work on the formal and legal questions related to construction on land around the stadium is under way. He added that his company was working together with government officials to promptly work out a formula and a reasonable time schedule to comply with Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) expectations concerning the state of preparedness for Euro 2012.
"The remaining part of the complex is only slated for the year 2015, so there is no reason to worry," said Kloszewski.

Magda Działoszyńska
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