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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » October 1, 2010
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Sporting Challenge
October 1, 2010   
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Rafał Kapler, general manager of the national stadium in Warsaw, speaks to Jolanta Wolska.

The national stadium in Warsaw has a deadline set in stone: it has to be up and running by the time the Euro 2012 soccer championships kick off. Will it be finished on time?
The construction is on target. Actually our plan is to have the stadium fully operational by July 2011. This gives us time before the Euro championships in 2012 to smoothe out any glitches. It is a huge and complex construction and we have a good team of people involved in the construction process. It is more challenging to operate the stadium than to build it and to manage it in a way that it will be profitable. So now we are more focused on the future operation than the construction itself.

Is the construction on budget?
Of course we are on budget. We always try to balance costs, so that if we implement a change that is more expensive or creates additional costs then we compensate with some savings elsewhere; it’s our daily routine. We have a set budget and we have to keep to it.

What makes the stadium stand out from others?
The most spectacular feature is the retractable roof. It is fully retractable over the pitch and when closed it also covers the tiers, so that it then feels more like a sports hall than a field. Of course, it means that we can close it in winter, and it also improves the acoustics. Moreover, it is not just a sports or football arena, but also an excellent venue for concerts.

Currently there is no other such venue in Poland. Even though we are building excellent stadiums in other cities, no other stadium will be multifunctional to the extent that the national stadium in Warsaw will be. There is a lot of commercial space inside; there are many halls and areas that can be utilized for offices and other functions. The convention center inside the stadium with more than 10, 000 square meters of space will be the largest convention center in Warsaw. These aspects differentiate it from other stadiums.

What are your plans for the areas adjoining the stadium?
Together with the architects who won the contract in 2008, we started to work out what to do with the adjoining area in order to create some synergy with the surrounding environment. There must be a lot of space that is not built-in around the stadium to accommodate large events and facilitate such things as outside broadcasting vehicles, hospitality areas, medical services, volunteers and for parking.

We are designing all transport routes so that they can be utilized after Euro 2012. We do not want to waste a single zloty, and we don’t want it all to be just for the championships.

We have plans for two hotels near the stadium to accommodate the convention center. And in future we plan to build a smaller stadium nearby with an athletics track and space for 5,000 spectators, and also tennis courts and training pitches.

How do you plan to make the facility profitable?
There are three streams of revenue. The first stream comes from the building itself, that is the convention center, offices, a fitness club and so on. The second stream of revenue are the events: not only concerts, soccer matches, but also corporate events similar to those held in other stadiums in Europe. And third are the marketing rights, that means the association of the national stadium with sponsors’ names. At this stage in our business planning that revenue seems to be equal to the other two streams.

Do you have any interesting events planned for the stadium after the soccer championships?
It is easier to plan events that will be held before Euro 2012 than after the championships. But until the information becomes official I cannot disclose it. Although I can say that they include both sports events and concerts. These events will help us to test out all the facilities before Euro 2012; in fact, it is our obligation to UEFA to conduct some events with a full house before the opening of the games.

How does the Polish national stadium compare with other such facilities in Europe?
Only a few stadiums in Europe have a retractable roof. The difference is also the commercial capacity inside. The UEFA management, who have seen many stadiums, were really surprised how big the stadium is inside. They even said that in their opinion it is the largest stadium in Europe: not in terms of seating capacity—which at 55,000 is medium-sized—but the other facilities, and that’s something that will make money for us in the long term.
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