Soccer-Polish venues on track for Euro 2012, prime minister says

WARSAW, May 10 (Reuters) - Poland is confident of being ready to host its share of Euro 2012 matches, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Saturday.

“We would be ready to host Euro 2012 in not four but in five to six cities if need be, but I think we should stick to the four plus four formula and not undermine our partnership with Ukraine,” Tusk said ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA decision on the venues.

Since Poland was awarded the right to jointly host the tournament with Ukraine two years ago, the country’s plans have been plagued by legal wrangling, corruption scandals and a change of government.

Poland has also had problems with infrastructure investments such as roads, airports and hotels, but the authorities have assured UEFA everything is on track.

Polish media speculated that the four cities most likely to be chosen by UEFA’s executive committee, when it meets in Bucharest, were Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow and Wroclaw, while Poznan and Chorzow would be reserve venues.

Plans to build a national stadium in Warsaw, Poland’s capital, were delayed by disputes with private vendors who had refused to abandon the huge, crumbling, communist-era stadium they had turned into Europe’s largest open-air market.

The new stadium, seating 55,000, will be the largest in Poland and is due to be ready in May 2011.


The Baltic port of Gdansk, birthplace of the Solidarity movement which 20 years ago brought about the collapse of communist rule, has only just begun work on its 41,000-seat Baltic Arena, due to be completed at the end of 2010.

Gdansk is one of the few Polish cities that is seen as having satisfactory hotel accommodation.

The south-western industrial city of Wroclaw in April signed a deal to build a new stadium that will seat 44,000 and will be ready by the end of next year. The city is also working on roads to a nearby airport and hotels.

The southern city of Krakow is one of the three cities that are modernising an existing facility instead of building one. Its stadium will have a capacity of 33,000.

The strong points of Poland’s old royal capital include a recently expanded airport connected by train to the city centre, extensive hotel accommodation and other tourist facilities.

The existing Lech Stadium in the western city of Poznan is due to be expanded by mid-2010 and will seat 41,000. Polish media said the modernisation did not meet UEFA’s criteria and last-minute changes had had to be made.

Additionally, a highway connecting Poznan with nearby Wroclaw is unlikely to be ready by 2012.

Silesian Stadium in Chorzow, a suburb of the southern industrial city of Katowice, will seat 52,000 once modernised and is expected to be ready in the first half of 2011.

Due to transport problems and a weak hotel base, Chorzow is seen as the least likely choice of venue.

Additional writing by Rob Strybel, Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email