Bulgaria's Top Football Clubs Levski, CSKA Urged to Cooperate on New National StadiumSports | July 18, 2011, Monday // 02:10| views
Pictured: Amsterdam ArenA CEO Henk Markerink (right) meets with Bulgarian Sports Minister Svilen Neykov (left) in Sofia, July 13, 2011, regarding the project for a new Bulgarian national stadium. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria's top football clubs Levski and CSKA should cooperate in order to make the project for a new national stadium in Sofia profitable, according to the President of the Atlantic Club in Bulgaria Solomon Passy.
Passy, a former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria in 2001-2005, has told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) about his idea for cooperation of Levski Sofia FC and CSKA Sofia FC – which many in Bulgaria would deem revolutionary – after last week Henk Markerink, CEO of famous Dutch stadium Amsterdam ArenA with his team of experts, visited Sofia at the invitation of the Atlantic Club in Bulgaria, meeting with top government officials to present Amsterdam ArenA's know-how in stadium management.
The Bulgarian government has recently made clear its intention to go for the construction of a new national stadium as the present "Vasil Levski" National Stadium is located in the congested downtown.
"The Bulgarian government and society are positive that the Vasil Levski Stadium, because of its organization and location, is part of the past rather than the future of the city of Sofia. We need a new modern facility in a more appropriate location. After the government indicated it sought a solution to this problem, the Atlantic Club in Bulgaria invited Amsterdam ArenA, the only profitable stadium of its kind in the world, to come to Sofia to present their know-how. It is crucial to approach such a project with respect to its overall expediency, and not just its construction," Passy explained stressing that Amsterdam ArenA has successful projects in South Africa, and Brazil and other Latin American countries.
As the Bulgarian government has made it clear that it will decide on the location and a tender for the construction of the new national stadium in Sofia, Amsterdam ArenA is expected to be involved further by considering various opportunities.
"Amsterdam ArenA is a very flexible organization that can have partnerships with various players on the field – investors, construction companies, hi-tech companies. The involvement of such a hi-tech consortium will have a great impact not just on the sports but also on the economic development of Bulgaria," Passy believes.
He emphasized that some 90 events are held at Amsterdam ArenA annually, and about only a third of those are football matches. In his words, in order to be an economically sound project, while being attached to one or two top football clubs, such a stadium should also be an economically independent entity so that its profit is not raked up by the clubs and invested in their other activities.
Passy says that rather than relying on the pouring of state budget money into Bulgaria's new national stadium, thanks to its know-how, management, and contacts, if it becomes involved, Amsterdam ArenA has the potential to create a funding mechanism that can mobilize private investors.
"Perhaps the best formula for Bulgaria's new national stadium in terms of sports and economy would be to have the two most popular teams – Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia – to cooperate in the name of national progress," said Bulgaria's former Foreign Minister.
When asked if his idea to get the two eternal enemies to cooperate is realistic, Passy replied that if France and Germany managed to organize a joint military unit after warring for many centuries, and if Russia and Germany can now mark together the end of World War II, the cooperation between the top Sofia teams also seems possible.
"If I manage to get Levski and CSKA to cooperate, I could then try to unite the nation," the head of Bulgarian Atlantic Club joked regarding reports that he might be nominated to run in the Bulgarian presidential elections in the fall of 2011.