Nemzeti Atlétikai Központ
|Target capacity||37 326|
|Category||Construction in progress|
|Cost||HUF 246 B ($824 M)|
|Contractor||ZÁÉV Építőipari Zrt., Magyar Építő Zrt.|
|Structural engineer||Épszerk-Pannónia Invest Építőipari Kft., Bayer Construct Zrt., Gedi Építő Kft.|
Nemzeti Atlétikai Központ – construction description
How did the construction of the National Athletics Centre in Budapest come about?
As Budapest intended to bid to host the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics, a preliminary concept for a new Olympic Stadium in the Hungarian capital was developed in 2016. Due to growing public resistance, Budapest withdrew from the competition to host the Games in February 2017 and the concept remained unimplemented.
However, plans to build a new athletics stadium were not completely abandoned. In 2017, Ferenc Puskás Stadium was demolished to make room for the construction of the new, football-specific Puskás Arena. This meant that Budapest was left without a major athletics stadium.
It was decided to use the plot of land previously earmarked for the would-be Olympic Stadium to build the new arena. It was located on the southern outskirts of the city centre (left bank), right on the Danube, near the Rákóczi Bridge and the northern tip of Csepel Island. Administratively, the area belongs to Budapest's 9th district (Ferencváros). The state already carried out a buyout of the land in 2014.
On December 4, 2018, Budapest was awarded the rights to host the 2023 World Athletics Championships, the main arena of which is to be a new stadium (called National Athletics Centre, although the final name is still to be determined).
What does National Athletics Centre design in Budapest entail?
You can find out about the concept on our design page of the National Athletics Centre in Budapest
A competition for the architectural concept of the new stadium, which was to become the leading athletics facility in the country, was announced in April 2017, with Napur Architect studio winning in September of the same year and later contracted to develop the full design documentation.
The new facility was to have an eminently athletic profile, with the national athletics association (MASZ) as the main user. One of the major features of the concept was variability - the stadium was designed to hold up to 55,000 spectators for the largest events, but with the dismantling of the second, temporary floor of the stands (including the roof), this figure would be reduced to 15,000. A wide, accessible platform with views of the Danube would then remain around the stands.
In the course of work on the final design of the venue, the concept evolved and the initial maximum capacity of 55,000 spectators was reduced first to 40,000 and finally to 37,326 (with 14,531 seats after the removal of the upper tier). It was also decided that the roof would be permanent and not be removed along with the temporary stands. An updated concept was shown in December 2018.
In addition to the stadium itself, the project also included the creation of training facilities (including an additional full-size running track) to stand on Csepel Island, for which a pedestrian and bicycle bridge leading to the island was also planned. New flood barriers were also to be built and the section of the railway line running through the area was to be renovated with the construction of two new overpasses. The revitalisation of the entire post-industrial area included new park spaces, paths and streets.
When was the preparatory work for Budapest's new athletics stadium carried out?
In November 2019, a contract worth 4.1 billion forints was signed with Fejér-B.Á.L Zrt. and Föld-Trans 2001 Kft. to clean up and prepare the site for the investment. The work included the demolition of buildings on the premises of the former Institute for Environmental Protection and Water Management (VITUKI), tree felling and excavation work. Among other things, the swimming pool located here was removed during this phase.
Already in February 2020, a tender procedure was launched to select the main contractor for the stadium. The successful bidder was a consortium of ZÁÉV Zrt. and Magyar Építő Zrt. The contract was signed on 2 November 2020. The stadium contract was worth 150 billion forints, but the state intended to spend almost 203 billion forints on the entire project.
The group of subcontractors included KÉSZ Metaltech Kft., KÉSZ Ipari Gyártó Kft. and bim.GROUP Kft. who were responsible for the steel structure of the canopy, and NUSSLI Group, which was tasked with the installation of the second, temporary floor of the stands.
After the initial site preparation, one of the few surviving structures on the site was a 57-metre high skyscraper in the south-eastern part of the plot. It was originally intended to become part of the project, but examinations carried out showed that the technical condition of the building did not allow it to be used. As a result, its demolition was carried out on December 10, 2020.
How is the construction of National Athletics Centre in Budapest progressing?
Back at the end of 2020, the first foundations of the stadium stands were laid. Already in spring 2021, the first concrete steps were laid on the stands. In the summer of 2021, the steel skeleton around the stadium began to be built. The last of its 48 segments was installed in December of the same year. In the following year, work continued on and around the stadium.
On October 28, 2022, the topping out was hung on the stadium and a barrel was rolled over the new footbridge, celebrating the completion of the stadium's roof and the footbridge to Csepel Island. In autumn 2022, the stadium was green turfed and the installation of the second, temporary floor of the stands began. At the end of 2022, ticket sales for the athletics world championships began.
In the second half of 2022, it was reported that the costs of the entire project were rising, first from 204 to 211 billion forints, then to 238 billion, and by the end of the year to 246 billion. This makes the project the most expensive investment in sports infrastructure in Hungarian history (by comparison, the construction of Puskás Arena cost 190 billion forints). During the construction process, there have been criticisms questioning its justifiability.
It is not yet known exactly when the stadium will be inaugurated, but there seems to be no danger that it will not be completed in time for the athletics world championships scheduled for August 19-27, 2023. After the conclusion of the competition, the temporary upper floor of the stands is to be dismantled.