White elephants in Romania after Euro 2020?

White elephants in Romania after Euro 2020?

Valentin Marian Negru

Professional Footballer 2000-2015 in Romania


As we all know the European Championship will be hosted by 13 cities from 13 different countries around Europe. The format was proposed and supported by the former UEFA President Michel Platini. “On 30 June 2012, at a press conference a day before the UEFA Euro 2012 Final, UEFA President Michel Platini suggested that instead of having one host country, Euro 2020 could be spread over "12 or 13 cities" across the continent.” (en.wikipedia.org). “


On 6 December 2012 UEFA announced that the 2020 Finals would be held in multiple cities across Europe, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the tournament.” (en.wikipedia.org). The cities chosen are: London, Munich, Rome, Saint Petersburg, Baku, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Dublin, Bilbao, Budapest, Brussels, Glasgow and Copenhagen. To be selected as one of the 13 cities to host the Euro 2020, the President of the Romanian Federation revealed that “during the next year, 3 million EUR shall be directed towards the football pitches and the four stadiums. Giulești, Dinamo, Ghencea and the Arch of Triumph, will be rebuilt.” (frf.ro, 2016). The reconstruction of the four stadiums is UEFA EURO 2020 tournament requirements. The four stadiums will provide a total of 70000 seats: 8,000 seats at the Arch of Triumph stadium, 18,400 seats at the Giuleşti stadium, 20,000 seats at the Dinamo stadium and 30,000 seats at the Steaua stadium.


Bucharest will host the four games at the National Arena, a stadium that meets the UEFA EURO 2020 tournament requirements. The stadium was inaugurated on 6 September 2011, and already hosted the UEFA Europa League 2012 Final. To respect the city's infrastructure improvement requirements, the Mayor of Bucharest City stated: “I can assure you that the projects that the Municipality committed itself to shall be finalized. I am referring to infrastructure modernization works which fall in the scope of responsibility of the Mayor’s Office” (frf.ro, 2016).


It is clear that the improvements in sport and city infrastructure is something that is needed to be a good host for the tournament and the citizens will benefit from the investments even after the tournament but what about the “white elephants”? Don’t worry it is not about the big animal. The definition of the term “white elephant” is: “Something that costs a lot of money but has no useful purpose” (Cambridge Dictionaries Online). Mrs. Manuela Irina Pătrășcoiu, General Manager of National Investment Company, pointed out that the estimate cost is “around 1,500 EUR for each seat of each stadium. The Romanian Government has already stated that Euro 2020 is deemed a project of national interest” (frf.ro, 2016). After this estimative price we know that the Arch of Triumph stadium will cost 12 million Euros, Giuleşti 27 million, Dinamo 30 million, and Steaua 45 million.


But what will happen after the tournament? Only one of the four stadiums will be used by a home football team and one will host rugby games. Dinamo Bucharest play their home games at the Dinamo stadium. It is a club with plenty of supporters and a new or an improved stadium will be great. The Arch of Triumph stadium hosts rugby games. Rugby fans have been increasing since Romania’s national team came back against Canada at the 2015 World Cup.


What about the Giulesti and Ghencea stadiums?

The Giulesti stadium was the home of Rapid Bucharest but the club was declared bankrupt in 2016. After the bankruptcy and some legal issues, two clubs now declare that they are the real Rapid Club. Both of them play in the fifth league. Due to this legal issue a lot of fans aren't attending the games. If the legal issues will be resolves and only one club will be recognised by the fans, the supporters will for sure attend the games again.


But until then, who will play there and who will pay the maintenance?

The Ghencea stadium was the home stadium of Steaua Bucharest but the stadium belongs to the Ministry of Defence. Due to a legal dispute between the owner of the club and the Ministry, the team play their home games at the National Arena and it seems that they will not play at the Ghencea stadium again no matter what the result of the dispute will be. The club thinks that they are a national club and they deserve to play at the National Arena. Therefore, the Ministry will have pay the maintenance of the stadium that no one will use.


In my opinion the Ghencea stadium is definitely a “white elephant”. The Giulesti stadium at this moment has a good chance to be one but there is still hope that the Rapid team could play there. The Dinamo and Arc of Triumph stadiums will be a good investment for the future and the attendance should increase.


What do you think about these “white elephants”?