The National Stadium in Warsaw, the largest Polish football arena for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships, can accommodate 58,000. Raised at the cost of almost PLN 2 billion, it is one of the few facilities worldwide with a retractable roof to cover the whole pitch in bad weather.
The Stadium was inaugurated on 29 January 2012. ‘It is one of the most exquisite football facilities I have seen. This is a piece of architectural art. I have been to many football grounds, but this one is just admirable’, said Michel, FC Sevilla coach not fully three months later when his team were playing there a friendly against Warsaw’s Legia.
The very Stadium-related figures astound: 400,000 tons of concrete used during the construction; the steel structure weighing 11,000 tons; 1,200 tons the weight of the roof cables. The facility has the capacity of ca. 58,000 with another 800 in VIP skyboxes; it can additionally accommodate 1,000 reporters. It boasts 19 staircases and 10 km of stairs. The Stadium houses 4 restaurants the largest of which with 1,300 sq m surface is located 40 m above the pitch with the magnificent view of the Vistula and the Old Town. The parking lot accommodates 1,765 cars, and the facility has in total 965 toilets.
The opening match of Euro 2012 was played at Warsaw’s National Stadium on 8 June. Poland drew 1:1 with Greece. Attending the match in the Presidential Box were the Presidents of Poland and Ukraine: Bronisław Komorowski and Viktory Yanukovych: Prime Ministers of Poland and Hungary: Donald Tusk and Victor Orban; UEFA President Michel Platini; as well the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lech Walesa.
Before the first kick-off, an opening ceremony was held participated by over 800 volunteer dancers from 63 countries who performed the choreography by the Italian Marco Balich, a producer of a similar event during the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics.
The white-and-red façade of the Stadium resembling a wicker basket, mimics Poland’s flag. The facility has not only hosted sportsmen, but also people of culture and show business, among them world-renowned stars, such as Madonna and Boyoncé who have given concerts there. Moreover, it has served as the venue for prestigious trade events, such as the 4th Warsaw Book Fair visited by over 60,000 people in four days.
Those willing to visit the Warsaw National Stadium can participate in special theme tours. The ‘Footballer’s Route’ promises: ‘Footballer’s way with no secrets! See for yourself how the players get onto the pitch; see what the Footballers’ Zone looks like; explore the corners of their changing rooms, walk onto the pitch, to end it all with the experience footballers have in their post-game Conference Hall’. ‘Come and feel like someone special, just like our special guest feels. Get to know the routes along which football fans walk during a match, visit our VIP Section, get into a VIP skybox to see the view from there. See for yourself where the players change before the match, and how journalists work during events’, reads an invitation to another tour (‘The Luxurious Route’).
The National Stadium (at 1 Ks. J. Poniatowskiego Avenue) was built in the basin of the Tenth Anniversary Stadium raised in the 1950s, the latter famed for international football and track-and-field events, as well as the finish of the Peace Cycling Race. (PAP)