Lawmakers on Thursday voiced concern that the new Limassol stadium – costing taxpayers around €40 million – could remain idle, leaving the three local sports clubs without a venue.
Works at the stadium have finished, and the facility was slated to start operating in the middle of this month. But an ongoing muddle with the contracts between the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA) and the Limassol sports clubs means the stadium – dubbed the ‘jewel in the crown’ for the coastal city – could now remain in limbo.
The new stadium, located at Kolossi, lies on state land. It is intended to replace the Tsirio stadium, deemed unsafe when operating at full fan capacity.
But changes made to the contract between KOA – the state agency commissioning the project – and the three clubs now need to be green-lit by the European Commission, to ensure that the fee arrangement for use of the stadium does not breach state aid rules.
In parliament, Commissioner for State Aid Stella Michaelidou said she has secured a ‘pre-approval’ from the European Commission for the stadium’s operation. But Brussels now needs to vet the final contract between KOA and the clubs.
MPs heard that the European Commission has not given a deadline for its final answer – meaning the new stadium could remain unutilised for a while.
“The project has been completed, but KOA are still discussing the manner in which it will operate,” complained Akel MP Christos Christofides.
The new football stadium in Limassol was plagued with problems from the outset. Issues that came up included the size and number of seats, a suspect tender procedure, and a cost that ballooned from approximately €15 million to €40 million.