Taxpayers to lighten wallet for Hungary event

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Budapest Athletics Stadium update Nov 2020 Image: Kiemelt Kormányzati Beruházások Központja

More than €550m has been earmarked by the Hungarian Government towards the construction of the Budapest Stadium that will stage the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

The 2023 World Athletics Championships – the 19th edition of the World Athletics Championships, are scheduled to be held from August 19th to August 27th, 2023, in Budapest, Hungary.

Documents published by the Government show that HUF 204bn (€556.5bn) of public funds have been made available for the National Athletics Centre – which will initially boast capacity of 40,000 for the 2023 sporting extravaganza before being reduced to 15,000 – and its surrounding infrastructure.

This goes on to make the arena some €40m more expensive than the much larger Puskás Aréna national football stadium which can pack in a crowd of 67,000 and recently opened its doors in Budapest. It is also considerably more than initial estimates of €310m for the build.

The Government has budgeted for the development of the National Athletics Centre on what is presently a brownfield site by the Danube River. The cost includes the stadium, adjoining buildings, landscaping, and flood protective infrastructure, in addition to a pedestrian and cycling bridge.

In urban planning, brownfield land is any previously developed land that is not currently in use that may be potentially contaminated. The term is also used to describe land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes with known or suspected pollution including soil contamination due to hazardous waste.

The Government calculates that the expenditure of hosting the 2023 World Athletics Championships will come to €81.8m, but expects income from the event to far surpass the expended amount with 166,000 visitors and 416,000 ticket sales predicted.

Once the sporting showpiece is over, the venue would be reduced in size and will serve as a training hub for Hungarian athletics as well as a competition venue.

Once the temporary upper tier is removed, the stadium would be left with a circular plateau, expected to be filled with publicly available leisure areas, including a running track.

The construction of the stadium holds significance for Hungary’s long-term goal of hosting the Olympic Games. Budapest was involved in the bidding process for the 2024 Games, but is believed to be looking as far ahead as 2040 for its chance.

Budapest landed the 2023 championships in 2018 after a decision in Monaco (a country in Europe). Central and local authorities agreed to support the construction of the stadium last year.

Organizers said in 2018, “The 15,000-seat facility will give a major boost not only to competitive sports, but also to recreational and youth sports. Budapest residents and students will find training tracks, running tracks, street workouts and many other opportunities for sports and recreation.”

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