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Despite Failed Olympic Bid, Flashy Sports Infrastructure Developments to Come

Ábrahám Vass 2019.09.30.

Following fresh liberal party Momentum’s successful signature drive in 2017, the government backed off and the municipality of Budapest called off Hungary’s run for the 2024 Olympics to prevent a referendum on the event. However, with or without a Hungarian Olympics bid, the Orbán government is dedicated to its ambitious sports infrastructure plans. Liberal weekly HVG rounded up the major developments soon to be realized in the capital.

Most of the developments would concentrate around the less developed parts of Budapest, south from Rákóczi bridge, the northern tip of Csepel island, and in south Pest an area called South Gate, where besides these sports developments, a new city center would also be built. This would include a new student city, that was dubbed ‘Olympic Village’ in the Olympic bid, hosting 8,500-12,000 students with many additional facilities.

A brand new athletics stadium requires the biggest investment, as Budapest will host the 19th IAAF World  Championships in Athletics in 2023. This new stadium will have a capacity to seat 55,000. After the event, that number would be reduced to 15,000 and it would serve as the center of Hungarian Athletics. As of now, the stadium’s construction costs are estimated at 100 billion HUF, while the government has thus far failed to reveal the full costs of hosting the WC.

Hungary would also co-host the 2022 EHF European Men’s Handball Championship. For this occasion, a new multi-functional indoor stadium would be constructed behind the bus station in Népliget (People’s Park). Orbán-ally businessman István Garancsi submitted the best offer (78 billion HUF); however, many suppose that similarly to previous governmental developments, this price would be a lot higher in the near future. In addition, Szeged and Tatabánya would also get new indoor facilities for a cost of about 50 billion HUF, according to actual calculations.

While at the Ráckeve-Soroksár branch of the Danube river, a huge water sports hub named the ‘Danube Rowing Center’ would be set up. This would additionally include a water slalom with 8,000 seats. According to Greenpeace, this project would involve by far the biggest environmental destruction, affecting more than ten hectares of woods and groves and the Ráckeve branch would also be straightened and widened. This is where Budapest would host the 2020 Canoe Marathon European Championships.

This all adds to the 99.9% finished Puskás Aréna, which would host 5 matches of the football Euro 2020, for which the Hungarian national team’s chances for qualification has become doubtful.

Considering all the in-progress developments, PM Orbán’s plan to make Budapest a sports capital that can host any major event besides a football world championship will soon be realized.

images: visual designs of the projects; via MTI