PPP project unveiled for new €50 mln ‘National Arena’ stadium
- “What is of great importance is that neither the government, nor the football association will spend a single cent on the 'National Arena' because this will be a public-private partnership," says Prime Minister Rama
By Ervin Lisaku
TIRANA, April 21 – An Albanian construction company will build a new modern €50 million national stadium in Tirana under a public-private partnership project funded by the company itself in return for being allowed to use part of it for commercial purposes. The deal was signed on Thursday by Albania’s Football Association and local AlbStar company, one of the country’s biggest construction companies.
Speaking at the introduction of the project for the new 22,000-seat “National Arena” stadium designed by an Italian architect, Prime Minister Edi Rama described the public-private partnership (PPP) project as the best choice.
“What is of great importance is that neither the government, nor the football association will spend a single cent on the ‘National Arena’ because this will be a public-private partnership,” said Rama.
The Prime Minister said previous concession proposals by foreign companies demanding government guarantees on their investment would be unaffordable for the state budget.
Public-private partnerships have become a hot topic in Albanian politics after some risky concessions and warnings by international financial institutions that some 55 public-private partnerships the Albanian governments have signed during the past decade, have created commitments with a present value of about 7 percent of the GDP or €700 million in which the government will either pay the cost of the investment in installments or guarantee the revenue of concessionaires.
Albstar was the sole bidder in a tender held in late February to build the new national stadium. The concrete benefits of the developer have not been made transparent although a tower that will probably serve as a commercial centre and hotel is visible in the design project.
“Albania will have a stadium of the highest European standards, a stadium where not only the national team can play but where possibly a Champions League or Europa League final can also be played,” said Rama.
Armand Duka, the president of the Albanian football association, described the infrastructure investment as key for the further development of Albanian football which achieved a historic milestone this year with the national side’s qualification in a major football competition such as Euro 2016.
“We understood that there cannot be development or quality in football without infrastructure. For this reason we have invested in projects whose effects are now tangible,” said Duka.
Italian architect Marco Casamonti has also recently designed the new stadium of Italian Serie A team Udinese in the city of Udine.
The cost of the 22,000-seat Arena Kombetare (National Arena), the new home of the national football team, is estimated at €50 million. The construction is expected to last three years, according to the project.
The complex will also consist of 14,000 square meters for business purposes, while another 4,000 square meters of space is designed for the headquarters of Albania’s Football Association.
The new stadium will be built on the site of Qemal Stafa stadium in Tirana, which ceased being used for international matches in 2013 after failing to meet international standards. Prior to that, Qemal Stafa stadium had served as national stadium for over 70 years since 1946, when it was inaugurated for the Balkan Cup.
Lacking a permanent home, the Albanian national football team has since played their home matches at the newly reconstructed Elbasan Arena, making their debut there in October 2014 in a match against Denmark valid for the qualifiers of UEFA Euro 2016.
A new €10 million stadium is also being built in the northern city of Shkodra.