A five-hour pop concert highlighted the long-delayed grand opening of Poland's new National Stadium in Warsaw on Sunday, built for this summer's Euro 2012 finals which Poland will co-host with Ukraine.
The modern venue, whose architecture reminds some of a royal crown and others of a wicker laundry basket, will stage the opening ceremony and then the opening match of the tournament between Poland and Greece on June 8. `
Covering an area of nearly 204,000 square metres, the 58,000-seat stadium was built at a cost of $641 million and has been billed as "Europe's biggest facility of its kind," public news channel TVP INFO said.
The stadium was due to be completed in June last year but has been plagued by technical snags, including a defective staircase and problems with electrical wiring.
A friendly international between Poland and Germany in September was moved to Gdansk.
Safety officials did not approve its use for public events until two days ago.
"I am happy that this time we have met the deadline," beamed sports minister Joanna Mucha at Sunday's news conference. "We are hoping the National Stadium can host 10 to 15 major events a year as well as a number of smaller ones," she added.
Although this is Poland's only stadium with a retractable roof, it cannot be closed in sub-freezing temperatures.
But its heated pitch should make a planned February 29 Poland-Portugal friendly less foreboding in the event of cold weather.