Though scheduled for November last year, the inauguration of newest Belarusian stadium still hasn’t happened. This will change on May 3, when the home ground for BATE Borisov will be opened… without BATE Borisov.
BATE earned international recognition with their decent European record in recent years – three times in Champions League group phase, twice in Europa League’s groups. This in turn forced authorities to build a new stadium in Borisov, as the nearest decent one was in Minsk.
As the new Borisov Arena in woodlands outside city limits was financed publicly and BATE didn’t become its operator, conflict of competence appeared. At one point the club even informed their fans that club officials aren’t able to give an opening date or announce anything on spring ticket sales for the new stadium. It wasn’t up to them.
The outcome is definitely odd: Borisov Arena’s playing field was ready for first game in late summer of 2013 and opening was initially scheduled for November of last year. But it didn’t happen. Then rumours of early spring began appearing. BATE was almost ready to launch season ticket sales for 2014 before games began, but inauguration was again postponed. Meanwhile, the arena has been nearly fully furnished already in autumn of last year.
Finally in February 2014 the Belarusian Football Federation (BFF) announced the domestic cup final will take place at Borisov Arena and become the venue’s first event. Ironically, the announcement came from one body not directly connected to the project. BFF president Sergey Rumas even suggested that Alexander Lukashenko himself may be present at the game.
According to Rumas, this decision should further motivate BATE to reach the final stage and play in front of their home ground. But reality was different, the team lost their quarterfinal in Grodno in extra time. This turn of events leads to an unusual opening without the key team. Saturday May 3 will see Shakhtyor Saligorsk and Neman Grodno decide the Belarusian Cup.