Warsaw stadium tipped for commercial success

Warsaw's new National Stadium, the last Euro 2012 venue to be completed after a raft of problems, finally opens with a friendly between Poland and Portugal on Wednesday and may end up being the most commercially viable.

The 58,000 capacity arena, constructed with enough concrete to build 5,700 houses and enough steel for 64 jumbojets, sits on top of 25,000 square metres of commercial space.

"It is not really a stadium but a multifunction building, one of only a few stadiums holding in its depths such vast amounts of space for offices, exhibitions and conferences," said Daria Kulinska, the spokeswoman for its operating company.

"A great advantage is of course its location in the centre of the city, enabling good access with every means of communication."

The largest of Poland's four arenas for the European Championships, which the country will co-host with Ukraine in June, cost 1.75 billion zlotys ($562.3 million) - two-and-a-half-times more than any of the other three.

It also proved the most problematic.

The stadium manager was ousted earlier this month after months of construction delays and several launch hold offs. Wednesday's inaugural test comes 100 days before it hosts Poland v Greece in the opening game of Euro 2012.

The two neighbours' preparations for the tournament have been far from seemless but European football governing body UEFA has said the stadiums are better than in ultra-efficient Austria and Switzerland four years ago.


Warsaw joins Gdansk, Wroclaw and Poznan in Poland and Kiev, Kharkiv, Lviv and Donetsk in Ukraine as host venues looking to avoid the fate of most of the stadiums built in Wednesday's opponents Portugal for Euro 2004.

Portugal splashed out 600 million euros to renovate or build 10 stadiums, a relatively low price tag of around 60 percent of the joint cost of Poland's four Euro grounds.

Only three Portuguese venues - where the top clubs Benfica, Sporting and Porto play - attract capacity crowds while the others have often burdened city budgets in the cash-strapped country. Some stadiums could end up being demolished.

Critics have said that stadiums in Poland could suffer a similar fate after Euro 2012 but Warsaw predicts a bright future.

"The business plan envisages that from 2013 the National Stadium will finance itself," Kulinska said. "It will support itself from three sources: events, sponsorship and space rental."

The ground's operator, which expects its annual costs to be around 18 million zlotys, is seeking a sponsor for the stadium. It will hold concerts by pop stars Coldplay and Madonna this year but remains the only Euro 2012 arena without a club host.

Last year, Poland's top utility PGE paid 35 million zlotys for the right to have Gdansk's stadium carry the name PGE Arena for five years.

The Warsaw stadium has already found businesses to rent most of its office space and is seeking parties interested in the city's largest conference centre.

"This stadium will surely draw strong income as it is an attractive place commercially," said Tomasz Trzoslo, regional head of capital markets at real-estate vendor Jones Lang La