Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has surprised the media and the public by announcing a new idea for the location of a new national stadium to replace the Vasil Levski Stadium in downtown Sofia.
According to Borisov, the latest idea for a new location is the Nadezhda ("Hope") quarter in the northern suburbs of the capital, near or on the spot of the currently existing stadium of FC Lokomotiv Sofia.
"We are now considering the options for Nadezhda, even for the Lokomotiv stadium, to check out its condition. We can build a new national stadium on that spot, and we can start the construction at the end of 2011," the Prime Minister told reporters as he was inspecting the construction of the second line of the Sofia Metro.
"This will be a brand-new stadium," added Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, who was accompanying Borisov.
Borisov's rationale is that as of 2012 a stadium will be required by the European football federation UEFA to have a roof in order to host international matches.
"Just image having a Bulgarian team playing in the Champions' League, and having to play their matches in Belgrade for example. Or what if Bulgaria fails to get to host an Euro football championship just because we don't have the facilities," the PM asked.
Borisov further mentioned that the National Sports Arena in Sofia, one of the major construction projects of his government, will be formally opened on June 23, and will allow over 20 different Bulgarian sport federations to host European or world competitions.
"Every city, every capital has at least one such stadium. Unfortunately, everything fell on our shoulders at the same time – stadiums, highways, roads, and whathaveyou," Borisov said referring to the construction projects taken up by his government.
He believes the spot in Nadezhda is suitable for a new national stadium because it would have an easy access to the second line of th Sofia Metro. He did mention, however, that several options are under discussion, and that the position of Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and Chief Sofia Architect Petar Dikov will be decisive.
This is the first time the spot of the Lokomotiv stadium is mentioned as a possible location of a new national stadium. FC Lokomotiv Sofia is owned by wealthy businessman Nikolay Gigov, while the club CEO Ivo Tonev is a member of the Sofia City Council from Borisov's ruling party GERB.
In 2010, the Bozhurishte Municipality located right outside the Bulgarian capital Sofia tried to activate a project for the construction of a new national stadium on its territory.
The municipality of 8 000 inhabitants, which is practically a Sofia suburb is trying to realize the idea put forth by the Chief Architect of Sofia Petar Dikov for the construction of a new national stadium to replace the Vasil Levski Stadium, which is located in the very downtown of the congested capital.
Bozhurishte Municipality even announced that it was starting to prepare the planning of a new sports facility on its territory which will meet the criteria set by UEFA for a "five-star stadium."
According to Sofia Architect Petar Dikov, the Vasil Levski Stadium will not be able to meet the new requirements of FIFA and UEFA as of 2012. The other main reason to "move" the national stadium is the jammed traffic in the downtown of the capital city which becomes horrific when central streets have to be closed because of a football match or a concert.
Dikov and the Mayor of Bozhurishte Asparuh Asparuhov made it clear they like to build a new national stadium on plots owned by the Defense Ministry.
The ministry and the municipality have already had talks about the use of the real estate property in question. These, however, have not been finalized.
It is also unclear how the project for the construction of the new national stadium will be funded, and there has been no decision of the Bulgarian government to go ahead with this project.
Bozhurishte Mayor Asparuhov has also demanded the extension of the Todor Alexandrov Blvd and the first line of the Sofia Metro in order to connect the site of the potential future national stadium with the downtown of the capital city.
The Bozhurishte Municipality will be the location of the future Bozhurishte Industrial Zone, a joint venture of the Bulgarian government and Chinese province Zhejiang.