In this article I would like to share with you some interesting facts about a huge sporting event – European Soccer Championships 2012 – that is to be organized in Poland this year.
Poland and Ukraine will co-host the Euro 2012 in June and this fact already has a significant impact on Polish economy.
Organization of Euro 2012, the third largest sporting event in the world – just after Olympic Summer Games and World Soccer Cup – with 16 national soccer teams and their fans from all around the Europe, is a serious challenge for Poland but also a unique opportunity to promote this country all over the world.
If it is so… the question comes: How is this going to happen?
4 major cities were chosen to host the matches: Warszawa, Poznań, Wrocław and Gdańsk but the whole country and plenty of institutions are involved in the process of preparation. Euro 2012 could be seen as a catalyst of positive energy and positive emotions, an accelerator of changes in Poland, a chance which could be facilitating the execution of many desired and needed investments. In this sense, it is an impulse accelerating development of infrastructure and also a good opportunity to strengthen the image of the country abroad. Around 1 million tourists and fans are expected to arrive in Poland and billions of people will be watching the matches and also images and additional stories from the co-hosting countries on television and internet. Fans will come to Poland to support their national heroes, their soccer teams but not only. They would also like to have a good time, to enjoy the atmosphere of a sporting feast, to celebrate together in fan zones and in the cities and be entertained by additional events, they will often visit additional tourist attractions and get to know better the hosting nations.
Tourist and fans, among them just to mention the journalists, the businessmen and regular families will twitt, they will post pictures and messages on Facebook and other social media, and send the stories from Poland and about Poland to their friends and colleagues. TV, magazines and media representatives will cover not only the soccer games but also the additional material about the co- host nations…in this sense EURO 2012 is a guarantee of an increased interest in and the presence of Poland in world media that will distribute information and images from Poland to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Poland, this way, has simply been given a much awaited chance to shake off its old fashion image and enforce a creation of a much better one.
Simply said, Poland has an opportunity to present itself as a modern, hospitable country, with unique qualities of intellectual and emotional potential of its citizens. Poland has had to upgrade or built from scratch its highways, expressways, air ports, railway stations, stadiums, cope with such an organizational challenge and bear the cost of implementing them of course. Thanks to that unprecedented kick off energy from the Euro 2012 and of course European Union Funds Poland became the largest construction site in Europe. EURO 2012-related investments in Poland come to 96 billion PLN (circa 30 billion USD) largely on transport outlays which are crucial to cope with estimated number of tourists in June.
Around 220 projects related to EURO 2012 are under preparation or have just been finished. But most of them are actually not related to sport, with only less than 5 % of funds dedicated to stadiums. In 2008 a decision was made to build 3 completely new stadiums and reconstruct existing one stadium in Poznań. At the moment all of the ultra-modern stadiums are ready to host the soccer matches and other sporting and not sport-related events. They belong to the elite of the sporting facilities in Europe. Expanded City Stadium in Poznań is already in use since September 20, 2010. The capacity is 43.000 people. The other 3 stadiums are completely new constructions. National Stadium in Warsaw, the biggest stadium built in Poland for Euro 2012 with 58.000 seats, Wrocław Stadium with 41.000 and Baltic Arena in Gdańsk with 40.000.
Many national teams that are not playing group matches in Poland have decided to station there training camps in Poland. That would mean that their national fans would also follow them and visit many Polish cities, for instance Kraków. So the tournament could have significant impact on other cities as well.
Let me just summarize, there are three major advantages and benefits to kick off such a great tournament in Poland.
Firstly, it’s going to be a significant improvement of transport and sporting infrastructure in the whole country. None of the projects and constructions, none of the expressways, hotels, railway stations or airports is for the purpose of the tournament only. Highways, railway stations, airports will serve the public, tourism and businesses for many years to come. They would also be constructed regardless the EURO 2012 but the organization of the tournament accelerated that process by 4-6 years.
Secondly, the experience, know-how and the solution-oriented attitude needed for the scope of the tournament, also with regard to the professional service and comfort and the security of the travelers visiting Poland will be a positive legacy of this tournament. Such an experience could be helpful in successful organization of many other events or organizational challenges in the future.
Sporting facilities including 4 beautiful state-of-the-art stadiums will serve mainly for sporting purposes and also cultural, entertaining, business-oriented social ones that’s why stadiums will be full of life throughout a great part of the year.
It is estimated that the Euro 2012 may increase the Polish GDP by 2% or calculated in funds 30 billion PLN in upcoming years.
Let us wish all the fans and players many sport related emotions. But also, we want to keep our fingers crossed for Poland a country facing such a challenge. Poland is also playing a decisive game, with its image at stake. But I have no doubt that with good will, determination and support of the tournaments mascots Slavko and Slawek Poland will be one of the champions of the EURO 2012 and would present itself as a reliable and hospitable country open to hosting major international events!