Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

June 12, 2008

Slaski Stadium in the bid for matches during Euro 2012

Filed under: Poland,Stadiums — Ivan @ 4:34 am

The Slaski Stadium in Chorzow, southern Poland, still stands a chance of holding at least one group match in the Euro 2012 football championships. The state authorities’ decision to select the arena as an alternative venue for the finals is still being verified by the UEFA.

Alicja Baczynska reports.

The decision of Polish authorities to place two stadiums: in Krakow and Chorzow, on the Euro 2012 reserve list is not ultimate, as the final say on the matter rests with UEFA president Michel Platini.

The Slaski Stadium, the legendary and largest existing sports venue in Poland, opened in 1956 and has since hosted the country’s key international football matches, as well as other major sporting events. The arena, holding a national stadium status since 1993, also has to its credit vast experience in organising concerts for up to 70,000 people.

Various modernisation initiatives are planned to adapt the location to UEFA standards, among them a roof over the terraces designed by German firm GMP Architekten. The team has drawn up both refurbishment and building blueprints for a number of notable sporting facilities across the globe, including stadiums in Germany and South Africa for the World Cup Finals. Moreover, the stadium will expand its capacity by 13,000 to reach 60,000 spectators and will be provided with additional catering, sanitary, and media facilities. The multifunctional venue will also continue to house a motor speedway and athletics track. All the works are to be completed two years ahead of the championships.

The location has many assets, says provincial councillor in Silesia Wojciech Zamorski:

“We are very well located, we have very good infrastructure, good roads, good access to rail, good connections. We are very close to three international airports: [in] Krakow, Silesia itself, and Ostrava, which is not very far away from here.”

Highway A4, to be completed by 2012, will link Chorzow, alongside Wroclaw and Krakow with Germany, and most importantly – with Euro co-host Ukraine.

This football fan from Warsaw firmly believes the city should be given the opportunity to host the matches even more so than Krakow for purely practical reasons:

“Chorzow is within 90 minutes of driving both from Wroclaw and from Krakow so all the hotels in the two cities can earn some money on the guests, and because of the fact that Krakow is much more culturally attractive for tourists, they will anyway go there, so Krakow will earn something while if Krakow will host the matches nobody will go to Chorzow.”

A number of investments such as the modernisation of the local tram network and the Pyrzowice airport, along with the construction of a new terminal, will facilitate travel for prospective visitors. The extensive road network, ample 4- and 5-star accommodation within a 90-kilometre radius, not to mention a special casualty ward for football-related injuries at one of the local hospitals makes the stadium a sure pick. Moreover, the planned investments are a fraction of what lays ahead of Warsaw, Wroclaw and Gdansk, where the stadiums will have to be built from scratch. Compared to these cities, Chorzow seems like a safe bet. Why then was the stadium not chosen in the first place? Wojciech Zamorski again:

“Some mistakes were made in the qualification procedure. The mistake was that the Silesian location was considered as the location of the city of Chorzow, but we have to keep in mind that Chorzow is part of the Silesian agglomeration, which is two million inhabitants. We experience very strong competition, there is very strong lobbying, very strong PR.”

Modernisation works are to commence in spring 2009 and will cost 250 million zlotys in total. Since 1994, continuous upgrades have already taken up 67 million euros, an equivalent of 260 million zlotys, a fact which until recently hampered the attempts of acquiring more funds for the stadium. Yet Minister for Sports and Tourism Miroslaw Drzewiecki has declared that another 110 million zlotys will go towards the sports arena irrespective of whether it is selected a host city or not.

UEFA delegates have already drawn up reports assessing the province’s infrastructure, accommodation, safety measures and medical services and a final decision is to be announced following the ongoing Euro tournament.

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