Details surfaced last week as to why Bucharest’s largest and most modern stadium, the Arena Nationala, has been closed and unable to host events of any kind since the fire at Colectiv in October, when it was revealed that the stadium (along with a number of other public buildings in Romania) had no fire safety certification.
It appears that the stadium’s retractable roof (an afterthought which added almost €50 million to the total cost) was added without the correct planning permission and is, as a bonus complication, made of a material which is not approved for commercial use in Romania.
The temporary mayor of Bucharest, Razvan Sava (standing in for the erstwhile mayor Sorin Oprescu, currently suspended from office awaiting trial for corruption), claimed last Friday that Oprescu’s administration must have known about the issues with the roof, but nevertheless signed documents which transferred full ownership and responsibility for the stadium from the constructor to Bucharest city council. As such, it is the council which will have to fund any changes, such as the removal of the roof should the material it is made of not be approved for use in Romania. Meantime, the stadium remains closed.
It is unclear of the material will ever be approved. Opened almost five years ago having been built at huge public expense the stadium was very much Oprescu’s flagship project, and we can’t help thinking that the current farce is the perfect epitaph for his disastrous reign at the helm of the Romanian capital.
PS Elections for a new mayor, and a new council, will be held in May or June. We will, as you know, be backing Nicusor Dan and his USB, who might well end up having a decent chance: as we were writing this, the PNL announced it would formally ask the government to pass an emergency ordinance that would reinstate two-round mayoral elections. (Mayoral elections are currently scheduled to take place over just one round of voting). We have no idea what the PNL is up to, but we’ll get behind any call for two round mayoral elections.