What seemed to be a PR stunt at first, now is gaining momentum. Opposition against the municipal reconstruction plan for Stettin stadium has a new face: stadium identical to the one in Lodz.
Pogoń Szczecin has been opposing the municipal plan of stadium reconstruction basically from the start in 2013. It’s widely considered to be compromised in principle, leaving much of the old stadium, delivering moderate improvement to fans and costing possibly even more than a new football-specific stadium.
To prove their point, Pogoń asked Łódź-based architectural office Ferdzynowie to use their existing concept of an 18,000-seater in Łódź and adapt it to local conditions of Stettin. In all fairness, in early February we considered it to be more of a publicity stunt to draw attention to the issues of compromised reconstruction, not an actual plan.
But in recent weeks Ferdzynowie delivered first renditions of the possible new stadium, which indeed means putting their existing design for Widzew Łódź and placing it in a complex topography of western Stettin. Construction would have to be preceded by complete demolition of the existing structure and massive excavation of up to 200,000 tons of soil. Detailed documentation should be ready for planning application by November 30.
Better and cheaper?
But the outcome would basically meet all crucial requirements of Pogoń and their supporters: enclosed seating bowl with full cover, optimal sight lines and proper facilities. All within a budget that – even including the aforementioned excavation – would put the municipal proposal to shame. Building the adapted Łódź stadium in Stettin could come at 126 million zloty ($32m), while the city estimate their proposal at 148.5 million ($37.5m).
Additional costs would be conceivably larger for the brand new stadium (excavation and reorganization of access routes might take up further 20 million), but there also are additional costs associated with the city hall’s plans. And while there is no guarantee that Stettin’s plan would have a tendering process within expected budget, the Łódź stadium is already tested as it’s getting built at this very moment.
City hall forced to engage in dialog?
For many months the city was extremely reluctant to listen to any suggestions regarding the stadium redevelopment project. As we wrote previously, there never was any public consultation, even talks with the tenant club were very limited.
This began changing in recent months. While previously the city hall claimed the western curve could not be straightened and moved closer to the field without massive spending, it later proved to be doable and not at a high price suggested by city officials. The outcome can be seen compared below. All it took was actually listening to the cries of supporters who didn’t want the 1st row to be 40 meters away from the field. In fact, the architect in charge even admitted that building a straight stand rather than a curve would be… cheaper.
After the curve was straightened and sightline concern was addressed, some members of the city council began taking the president’s side. But now that Pogoń prove they’re serious about building the Łódź stadium in Stettin, neither of two major parties in the city council (PO and PiS) stands for the city’s plans. PO already supported the Pogoń scheme, while PiS was reluctant to support any option, but urged all interested parties to finally talk seriously.
On March 22 Zbigniew Boniek, the president of Polish football federation PZPN is coming to Stettin to discuss the stadium conflict. So far he’s been in full support of a brand new stadium rather than the municipal reconstruction, even earning some bitter and half-professional remarks by Stettin mayor Piotr Krzystek. Krzystek asked how many stadiums has Zbigniew Boniek built to be in position of authority, while he himself is yet to deliver the first one, which he had promised a decade back already.