PHOTO: Croatian Football Association

IS THE CROATIAN FOOTBALL INFRASTRUCTURE ALL OR NOTHING?

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Croatia has all or nothing in football infrastructure, but mostly it is nothing. Recently, there has been more and more talk about the soccer infrastructure in Croatia

NK Osijek has already received a new stadium with 13,005 covered seats. And around the stadium, there are training fields for players of all categories. This stadium is currently the most modern in Croatia, although not the largest. Although the most modern, Opus Arena looks like a real training camp, not a stadium that can be measured at the European level. But there is no need when people are not coming to the stadium. Although we believe that the club’s positive results would attract many more people.

PHOTO: NK Osijek

HNK Rijeka introduced a new project. That is, she presented a “return to Kantrid”. The presentation was attended by the President of HNK Rijeka Damir Mišković, the Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Olga Butković, the Rijeka Mayor Marko Filipović, and the architect B.Sc. Siniša Zdjelar, engineer, architect, one of the partners in the ZDL arhitekti studio. Thus, HNK Rijeka should return “home” to the place where it experienced some of the most beautiful moments in the history of the club, but also painful moments.

PHOTO: ZDL arhitekti

The new stadium in Kantrida should accommodate more than 12,000 seats, and next to it should be built a hotel on four floors with 200 rooms, three skyscrapers of 35 floors with a height of 116 meters, a garage with 1,350 parking spaces, and the beach to the east should also be renovated from the stadium, and the marina that local citizens use. The official name of this sports complex in Kantrida is the “Multifunctional Complex Stadium Kantrida“. This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world, and it will have a capacity that can easily be filled in any game. The entire complex would cost around EUR 150 million.

The central and northern Croatia will get new stadiums

In Zagreb, in the spring of next year, he will start working on the stadium in Kranjčevićeva Street, where NK Lokomotiva and NK Rudeš are currently playing their home games. The stadium should accommodate around 12,000 spectators, and it should also have a multi-functional parking lot around the stadium. Everything should be finished in the middle of 2025, at which time GNK Dinamo should move to the stadium so that the new stadium in Maksimir can be completed. People from Zagreb say that this is the first step in solving the issues surrounding the stadium in Maksimir.

PHOTO: City of Zagreb

Another club should resolve the issue of the stadium. It is from NK Slaven Belupo. The city stadium in Koprivnica would accommodate 8,125 seats, which would be completely covered. This would give this stadium the highest category of UEFA. Although there is still a lot to be agreed upon and done, the design bureau Forma Biro has made a plan for this stadium. The construction should take place in three phases, and the first phase will be the construction of the northern, eastern, and southern stands, and all the stands will be connected by a roof structure. In the second phase, the western tribune would be renovated, which should receive offices for journalists, a VIP lounge, and a Skybox. The third phase is reserved for the decoration of the stadium’s front building of the stadium, and there would be an open area for fans on the first floor, apartments on the second floor, and business premises should have a wide purpose. The entire story would cost about 15 million euros.

PHOTO: Forma Biro/NK Slaven Belupo

The Croatian Football Federation has started work and should finally get a representative camp

Some time ago, the Croatian Football Federation started the project of a representative camp. And now the competition has ended and the conceptual solution and the architectural office for the construction of the main project of the camp have been chosen. The best solution was submitted by the Gradit architecture office. The first phase of construction involves the construction of an administrative building, a stadium with a capacity of 1,500 seats, three football fields, and a warehouse. In the second phase, the construction of the fourth soccer field, medical center, and sports hall is planned. One of the most significant events leading to all this was the signing of the Agreement on the donation of land for the construction of a football camp between the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Football Association.

PHOTO: Croatian Football Association

There is still a lot of work to be done regarding football infrastructure

Zagreb is very critical to the issue of football infrastructure. But it is not an exception, the problem exists with other sports arenas. When the stadium in Kranjčevićeva ulica is finished, then Dinamo will temporarily move to the city center. He would play in HNL, cup, and European competitions there. But then the construction of the soccer stadium in Maksimir started.

Originally, it was about a stadium with a capacity of 34,000 spectators, which would be accompanied by various contents such as football fields, an entertainment center, and various other things. But is this enough for the Croatian capital? It probably isn’t enough. Every serious capital city has a stadium with a minimum capacity of 50,000 spectators, for example, Amsterdam, which is the same size as Zagreb.

Can Zagreb have a large capacity of about 50 to 60 thousand spectators? It can and must have that capacity. Many people who are in Zagreb said that they would come to GNK Dinamo matches if there was a stadium that had the conditions to watch the game. This implies covered places and more dedicated spaces that would be located under the bleachers. And the pitch can be adapted to become multi-purpose, like those in the French Lille and the new pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Other facilities can always be squeezed under the stadium, such as a kindergarten and elementary school, as well as a fan shop and places where people would have fun after the match. The press center should be located there, and in front of the stadium, there is also a fan zone. It is important to encourage people to come to the stadium and to make it comfortable for them to watch the game.

The space around the stadium is quite large, and it can have a large-capacity parking lot, and a public garage can also be built that can serve other purposes. There should also be a medical center next to the stadium, and there should also be a place for security in the stadium. Maksimir has great potential, he just needs to use the opportunity. Of course, a large stadium capacity requires space, and Maksimir has it, although skeptics say that the stadium would be moved to the outskirts of the city.

Relocation of the stadium or not?

If the stadium where GNK Dinamo plays was moved to the outskirts of the city, everyone connected to the club should agree. Although it would not be the first club whose stadium would be moved to the edge of the city. FC Bayern Munich has moved from the Olympic Stadium to the new Allianz Arena. Many clubs changed their football homes, but the question is how much nostalgia there is with Maksimir Stadium. It will always exist. Also, how will the traffic around the stadium, which is located in the wider center of the city, develop? Many clubs do not close the traffic, but let it flow in its normal flow. When it’s crowded, you should be patient. We all should know that.

And as for the soccer camp, it can always be placed on the edge of the city. Every football club has a separate camp from the main stadium. GNK Dinamo can have that. The camp should retain a smaller stadium, several auxiliary fields, a medical center, a hotel, a fan shop and zone, a sports hall, conference and media halls, and premises for various purposes, including catering establishments.

Other parts of Zagreb have their own potential as well

In addition to the stadiums in Kranjčevićeva Street and Maksimir, Zagreb has several other potential stadiums that could get a decent stadium with a decent capacity. There are the stadium in Siget, that is the stadium of Hrvatski Dragovoljac. Huge potential to build a stadium for the highest UEFA category, and around it there can be a camp for club needs. Novi Zagreb needs a stadium like this because it would provide a stadium and camp that will develop new generations from this part of the city.

We can mention the stadium in Sesvete as well. The conceptual project exists, and Sesvete would get a stadium for the needs that the local club needs to play incoming games. The local people should not worry about this and will go to other stadiums outside Sesvete to watch their club. This kind of stadium has its own flair, and it can contribute to the development of new kids in football terms.

As far as other districts of Zagreb are concerned, it would be good to create sports camps that will be at the service of developing young athletes. Some soccer fields have the potential for renovation and infrastructure development. The reason is the same again, investing in young generations who expect life and a potentially big career. In other sports as well, Zagreb should wake up and recognize the sporting potential with which it can be promoted throughout the world.

Split has a problem with the stadium, which has not been invested in since its construction was completed

Stadium on Poljud is one of the stadiums that is outdated because it has not been invested in for decades. The lack of care about the stadium is a consequence of the rulers and their care about other things. The Poljud Stadium needs urgent renovation. That implies a completely new roof, and under the stands, it is necessary to put content that will provide entertainment for the fans. The tartan track needs to be removed because it is useless. In Poljud, the athletics competition was not held for long, and football is much more popular and is more important for every Croatian city. The same goes for Split.

By moving the track, a larger space for additional stands is achieved, especially for people with disabilities. Also, the media can be closer to the pitch, which would mean a better overview of the game and what is happening on the pitch. To bring the seats for the disabled closer to the pitch, the southern part of the stadium would be freed up. This means that the stadium could be merged and closed completely. This alone would increase the stadium’s capacity.

It is possible to separate the business premises from the stadium and place them in the immediate vicinity. This could likely happen in the current auxiliary courts located in Poljud. The football camp should be separated from the stadium, and a new location should be found for the camp. The camp should contain many contents – from sports to recreational and entertainment content.

Poljud Stadium does not need to be demolished. It needs to be updated and new content added. Poljud can look very good and can serve many purposes. And the problem of the terrain should be solved. The field can be multi-purpose, and yet very good and high-quality. That is why it is necessary to believe that the stadium will finally be rebuilt.

In Split, there is another stadium. It is the Park mladeži where athletics competitions and training take place, and RNK Split plays its home matches at that stadium. And if that stadium were to be rounded and all the stands were connected and when the roof was installed, it would have a decent capacity that the spectators could enjoy. And the athletic competitions and training sessions would have a better impression and quality. While RNK Split would have a decent place for playing home matches. Apart from RNK Split, the stadium could also be used by other clubs, including athletics clubs and soccer clubs. And perhaps clubs from other sports, for example rugby clubs, would use it.

HNK Hajduk should move to this stadium temporarily. And that’s because of the stadium renovation in Poljud. The capacity of Poljud will be reduced due to the passage, and Park Mladeži should get more than 30 thousand seats for spectators. How will Split manage stadiums with a capacity of around 30,000 or more? We have to see.

But the Stari plac stadium has its value, but also sentimentality. With the construction or reconstruction of the existing stadium, Split would surely get another stadium for the needs of sports events, whether it is about football or some other sport. We can only hope that the sports infrastructure will develop and in that way encourage the clubs to develop in any sense.

The two biggest cities have to have real stadiums

Is it possible that the two biggest cities in Croatia, Zagreb, and Split, cannot have stadiums with a capacity of more than 50 thousand spectators? Zagreb and Split deserve that and they must have it. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, which deserves to have a stadium with more than 60,000 spectators with all the necessary content and a sports camp that will enable GNK Dinamo to progress. Hajduk has a lot of support and needs a stadium of around 50,000 spectators.

This can be of great importance for both cities. Both cities could be candidates for hosting the European club final, and this can contribute to the great popularity of the cities in all matters. Apart from the clubs themselves and the national federation, local companies can also benefit from these kinds of organized sports events. Because there will be many attractions that can entertain visitors and spectators.

And the other cities…

Both Rijeka and Osijek deserve stadiums with larger capacities, but currently, they are not able to get them because sports results need to be created first. Then you can talk about their bigger stadiums. Dubrovnik is potentially a good city for which a decent stadium can be created and which could have many attractive facilities. Mainly because of the brand Dubrovnik has.

Cities such as Varaždin, Sisak, Zadar, Slavonski Brod, Vinkovci, Vukovar, Pula, and Šibenik need to have stadiums with a capacity of slightly more than 8,000 seats to enter the highest UEFA category. This would give Croatia an attractive soccer infrastructure, and maybe the league would become stronger and better. Smaller cities could also have a camp next to the stadium, and this would allow the development of “small” clubs.

Croatia deserves modern stadiums. Because of the results of the national team in the last five years, but also the results of GNK Dinamo, which achieves as many good results in European competitions. It is already shameful that the Croatian football team has nowhere to play. That is, there is a place to play, but there is not a single normal stadium except the one in Osijek. Even Rujevica is not a real stadium, but it’s a training camp.

The story was told, but everything remained in the story because Croatia did not win the host

Croatia and Hungary were candidates for EURO 2012, which was eventually held in Ukraine and Poland. That’s when the ideas for the stadiums in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek were created. It’s a shame that Croatia and Hungary didn’t get to host, because today Croatia would probably have decent stadiums.

For more than 15 years, there have been conceptual projects made by architectural studios, among which the most famous is the 3LHD studio. This was for the purpose of the candidature for obtaining the hosting of one of the UEFA EURO competitions. Thus, the Gradski vrt Stadium in Osijek should have had 35,000 seats for spectators, and the stadium in Zagreb should have had 55,000 seats, while the stadium in SPlit should have had the same capacity as the one in Zagreb. In RIjeka, a stadium with 35,000 seats was planned. We believe that these stadiums would cover all the main regions in which Croatia’s largest cities have an influence. We also believe that these capacities would be filled over time without any problem.

Other sports are problematic

Other sports such as basketball, handball, athletics, volleyball, gymnastics, and water polo, also others, have problems with sports infrastructure. The existing infrastructure is out of date and there are not enough halls for the development of athletes. In elementary and secondary schools, sports halls are left behind for some time. And that is a very bad development for young athletes and potentially big results.

That is why Croatia must engage in sports infrastructure. All sports collectives should be encouraged to develop and progress in every aspect. Sport and Sportsmen is a Croatian brand that represents us in the best possible way.

What is happening?

The question is how much will and strength is there for the development of sports infrastructure, but also how many funds are there to start such projects? Of course, no sports facility is cheap, and when it is built or renovated, it also needs to be maintained. And in Croatia, thank God, everything has been allowed to take its course and sports facilities have been overtaken by time. As such, Croatia has top sports results, but our sports infrastructure is regularly failing. This must change and Croatia must take measures for the development of sports and sports infrastructure, and not give false promises.

There is a problem with the authorities that lead Croatia, but the problem is also with local authorities. In terms of sports, the ball is passed from one side to the other, and this then represents a big problem for sports and the sports infrastructure. Then everything is much slower, agreements on projects are difficult to make, and it can take months, while sometimes it lasts years. Like for example at the Maksimir stadium.

We guess the goal is to create a sports infrastructure that will have accompanying content. It doesn’t necessarily have to be only and expressly only a sports facility, but also other things that will bring entertainment and joy to the spectators. Good luck to all Croatian athletes and clubs in the future and their future careers and results.

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