Warsaw all set to join plush venues’ club


Warsaw one step closer to new arena Image: Warsaw Downtown skyline, DocenttX, CC0

After years spent lagging behind the other European capitals when it comes to enjoying a spiffy stadium, Warsaw (capital of Poland) looks set to join the plush venues’ club with plans in place to build a state-of-the-art sports hall and entertainment arena.

‘TVP WORLD’ stated that estimated to cost €350 million, plans to push ahead with the 22,000-seat arena was first announced in May by Sławomir Nitras, the Minister of Sport and Tourism of Poland, and now looks close to fruition.

Set to be constructed next to the National Stadium on the East Bank of the River Vistula, the plot needs to be first transferred from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, something that Nitras has termed “a foregone conclusion”.

The 58,000-plus Kazimierz Górski National Stadium, known for sponsorship reasons as the PGE Narodowy since 2015, is a retractable roof football stadium located in Warsaw, Poland. It is used mostly for concerts and football matches and is the home stadium of the Poland national team.

‘TVP WORLD’ further stated that the above site was initially earmarked by the former ruling party, Law and Justice, to serve as the site of a vaunted Museum of Technology and Nature, the land will now instead be handed over to the Ministry of Sport and Tourism. As things stand, this could happen as early as July.

Once it is successfully transferred, the Government officials have promised that the initial work will begin “immediately”.

The need for a modern sports hall was first mooted over two decades ago, only for the plans to gather dust. It is being feared that there might be a repeat of the earlier episode, but the concerned authorities have assuaged such fears, including Nitras.

Renata Kaznowska, Warsaw’s Vice-President, has also underlined the importance of the above development – “I am aware that Warsaw, and also Poland, misses the bus as far as holding showcase events are concerned. That is why building the above venue in Warsaw holds great significance and is doubly important.”

She added that the City has already worked on the financials – “We have already prepared a preliminary cost estimate for the above project. The price tag is estimated to come to approximately 1.5 billion złotys [€350 million], but this amount takes into account the inflation and the tech trappings which the hall will enjoy. It is worth remembering that the National Stadium cost nearly two billion złotys [€464 million] few years back, but barring the pandemic period, the cash registers of the venue has been jingling.”

Noted Nitras, “The hall, similar to the National Stadium, would bear a ‘national character’ and will host events extraordinaire of the country. The construction of the hall is important not just for the City but for the country as a whole. The only spiffy arena in Poland is the 22,000-capacity Tauron Arena in Kraków. Once major acts are held in Poland it would also boost the tourism quotient of the nation and will attract fans from all over the world to Warsaw once the planned hall sees the light of the day.”

Warsaw is the only capital City in Europe which lacks a state-of-the-art sports arena. In fact, even small nations like Andorra (country in Europe), Cyprus (country in the Middle East), Montenegro (country in the Balkans), and Luxembourg (country in Europe) boasts chic arenas.

Although work is underway on building a 6,000-seater sports hall in the City’s SKRA complex, currently the only indoor venue in Warsaw is the 4,800-capacity Torwar Hall whose facilities leave much to be desired. In comparison, every neighboring capital City – Vilnius (capital of Lithuania), Minsk (capital of Belarus), Bratislava (capital of Slovakia), Prague (capital of the Czech Republic), and Berlin (capital of Germany) – boasts swanky arenas capable of holding at least 10,000 spectators.

However, the construction of a 22,000-capacity arena would significantly lift Warsaw’s international image and the above planned hall – once operational – will enjoy an edge over the 17,000-capacity Uber Arena in Berlin and the 20,000-capacity The O2 Arena in London (UK).

Though the planned hall will cost a bomb, but people involved in the entire exercise to build the venue has pointed out that Kraków’s Tauron Arena cost €83.3 million 10 years back but is reaping rich rewards and so is the 15,000-capacity Ergo Arena in Sopot and the 13,806-capacity Atlas Arena in Łódź.

The country’s newest sports hall, the 17,178-capacity Arena Gliwice, has also been cited as generating handsome revenue. Completed in 2018 for €97.4 million, the year 2022 saw the venue hosting 213 events.

With the spatial development plan already adopted and the other official procedures, such as the rules governing a design competition, already in place, Kaznowska asserted that the City was ready to go ahead with the project.

Most likely to be funded by either a public-private partnership (PPP) or a special purpose vehicle (SPV) created by the State Treasury, Nitras said that a draft Bill concerning the financing has already been drawn up. Should things go as per plan, it is estimated that two years would be required to get the necessary permits and another three years for construction.

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