Aleksandr Lukashenko holds session to discuss Dinamo Stadium reconstruction

    President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko urged to rebuild the Minsk-based stadium Dinamo by the end of 2014 at the government session held on 5 November to discuss the stadium’s reconstruction.

    The Minsk-based stadium Dinamo should be rebuilt by the end of 2014. President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko gave the instruction at the government session held on 5 November to discuss the stadium’s reconstruction.

    The President pointed out that the country’s leadership has had to discuss problems of the sport industry a lot lately. “We often have to deal with sport matters. Unfortunately, mostly from the critical point of view. Everyone knows about the latest events and I hope a lot that they will produce a positive effect on the development of our sports. But another area we often talk about is the physical infrastructure for the sports development. One of the most important facilities, which destiny we will have to decide today, is the Dinamo stadium,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that unfortunately the Minsk-based stadium Dinamo is in disrepair. “One cannot go for recreation there. It is shameful to go there when matches are held,” said the President.

    The head of state underlined that talks about the stadium reconstruction have been going on for a long time, however, concrete work has not started. “For a long time it has been discussed, owners have been changed. Now the conclusion is the stadium should become a national one. It should be a state stadium meant mainly for football games,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. However, the reconstruction of the stadium has not begun even after the tender was held and the contractor was chosen. “As far as I can understand, the decision to let a foreign company rebuild the stadium was not completely well thought out,” said the President.”

    He added: “There is nothing wrong with foreign companies taking part in the tender to choose the main company in charge of the reconstruction. However, I am told that after the tender, discussions are still in progress about how the stadium should be reconstructed and how much it will cost. These things are inadmissible. It is either the continuation of red-tape practices in the city administration, which owns the stadium, or some other problems are being created. I’d like to get them addressed at today’s session,” said the head of state.

    The President demanded to get down to the stadium’s reconstruction right away. “The stadium’s reconstruction has to start tomorrow instead of March, April or May. There is a lot of work involving disassembly and the removal of waste. You are lucky if you manage it by spring. The time will be used to complete the design, to be more precise, if we find a normal company, the existing models of the stadium will be tied down”.

    The Belarus President said he wanted all the reconstruction work done within two years. Instead of a super stadium Dinamo should become a compact European level sport facility. “We don’t want to create a super stadium like that one in London or the Bird’s Nest in China. We don’t need something like that. We need a compact European level stadium for 40,000-45,000 seats. No need to try to impress anyone. We are not that rich to waste money on something glamorous. It should be a functional, beautiful stadium. The historical image that we have agreed on should be preserved,” said the head of state.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed once again that the work should be performed faster: “Three years is out of the question. We need the stadium reopened in late 2014 or, better yet, by 7 November as is the custom”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked he had no complaints about keeping trade premises opened after the reconstruction. Yet he said he wanted a clarification regarding how the rent collected for letting trade premises at the Dinamo stadium had been used. “I’ve given instructions to the State Control Committee Chairman to have a look at what is going on at the stadium. The key thing is that we had a huge marketplace that, according to my data, earned considerable financial sums. The traditional questions are: where is the money, how much money was there, and where did it go?” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. He demanded that the participants of the government session should give answers to these questions.

    Alexander Yakobson, Chairman of the State Control Committee, listed the facts that had led to the present state of affairs at the stadium although the reconstruction has been talked about for many years. The situation has been aggravated by red-tape practices of government agencies and the technological violations allowed during the reconstruction in the late 1990s. For instance, the waterproofing layer of the premises below the stands was damaged when new seats were installed. As a result, water leakage led to dampness and mold.

    “The problem of the Dinamo stadium reconstruction was most pronounced after the technical examinations of the load-bearing structure of the western stands in 2001 and 2005. It was detected that builders deviated from the approved design when they performed a major overhaul of the second storey in 1997. As a result, the load-bearing structures are overloaded,” said Alexander Yakobson.

    “The technical state of the stadium’s structures, engineering communication, the internal maintenance of premises under the stands threatens the safety and health of stadium visitors. The conditions for users of the premises are deplorable and damage the reputation of the historical symbol of the Belarusian football,” stated the State Control Committee Chairman.

    In summer 2011 the Minsk City Executive Committee started working on an international tender to choose the company for turn-key reconstruction of the stadium using a foreign loan. A Hungarian company won the tender by offering to perform the work within 28 months for Ђ 144.8 million. However, considerable disagreement emerged later, including due to the fault of the Hungarian side, over lending and insurance matters. As a result, the entire process slowed down again.

    Nikolai Ladutko, Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee, informed about possible reconstruction designs. The Dinamo stadium will no longer be an Olympic stadium. Instead it will be fit for football only. The larger elevation angle of the spectator stands will considerably improve the reception of the game. The missing field-and-track infrastructure will be compensated for by other facilities that will be created in Minsk.

    The question about keeping the wall around the stadium was raised since the wall represents historical and cultural value. “Preserving it is still a condition but it may be changed from 100% to 60%,” said Nikolai Ladutko. The head of state underscored that he believes the wall should be preserved as much as possible and it should be fitted into the new stadium wisely.

    According to the Minsk mayor, it is necessary to build a new structure inside the wall that will also be related to the historical part. He suggested holding a tender for the best design and letting the winner to develop the stadium design as a whole.

    “We will have to start from the ground up in lots of things. What was done 1.5-2 years ago was not systemic and was sloppy. Today if we want to build a cutting-edge facility, we have to start systematically from the very beginning,” said Vice Premier of Belarus Anatoly Tozik.

    “When we have the design of the stadium, then it will be necessary to invite bidders to determine who will build it faster and cheaper. It doesn’t have to be a foreign company or a foreign bank,” believes the Vice Premier.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the main part of the project could be implemented without foreign loans, thus saving a lot of funds.

    Sergei Rumas, Chairman of the Belarusian Football Federation, OAO Belarus Development Bank Chairman of the Board, agreed with that: “It would be unwise to take out a foreign loan for the entire project and pay the interest rate”. He remarked that the Belarus Development Bank could take part in financing the project.

    The private Belarusian company Triple is ready to contribute a significant sum to the project. Triple Company owner Yuri Chizh is also the head of the Supervisory Board of the private joint-stock company ZAO FC Dinamo Minsk.

    The consequent operation of the stadium was also mentioned. Aleksandr Lukashenko backed the public private partnership idea. “Someone else may want to get involved. Let them do it. But everything should be honest and transparent,” warned the head of state.

    “The stadium should be a sport and cultural facility. It should have a normal club and shops. Because if only games are supposed to earn money, the stadium will operate way in the red,” said the President.

    Sergei Rumas pointed out the need to employ skilled consultants, who could help with the construction process and take care of the commercial part in the stadium’s operation. “We should build a business-oriented model, a facility that will pay its way as much as possible,” he is convinced. The Belarusian Football Federation is ready to take care of expenses involved in employing the consultants.

    Yuri Borodich, Chairman of the Central Council of the Belarusian physical training and sports society Dinamo, shared his views regarding the stadium’s reconstruction. In particular, interesting projects by Italian architects were mentioned. Their experience and knowledge could be in demand as well. “We have agreed to start nearly everything from the ground up. Why can’t the Italians do it?” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    As far as the marketplace operation at the stadium is concerned, the President did not rule out that the marketplace may be open on some days. “It should have serious normal companies with cash registers. Just one example. It is possible to hold expos there, too”.

    “Today is the starting point. You have to start working tomorrow. Without losing time it is necessary to gradually remove what we don’t need today. Make up your mind regarding the design. Money should be spent wisely. And certainly, if we can get this sum together within 2.5 years with a small loan for imports, we should do it that way. That way we will have to pay back less. Let’s do it with this in mind,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to prepare the final architectural design of the stadium reconstruction by 10 December.