Portugal’s Hangover

Portugal hosted Euro 2004, a fantastic tournament with a surprise winner in Greece. But as the financial crisis unfolds, some Portugese feel a tinge of regret over the expense involved. Not just the capital costs of building “seven modern stadiums from scratch” and renovating three others*, but also ongoing maintenance expenses:

Second-division Beira Mar can’t afford the upkeep of a 30,000-seat, $94 million municipal stadium in Aveiro, while first-tier Uniao de Leiria doesn’t have enough revenue to maintain the city’s $120 million arena. On the south coast, lower-league teams Farense and Louletano rely on taxpayers’ money to bankroll the $61 million stadium they share.

Some are calling for the stadiums to be demolished. The bloomberg story breaking this news notes that this may be relevant to Ukraine and Poland, cohosts of Euro 2012, who seem wary of overspending. A representative of the soccer players union claims that the complaints over stadium expenses are just political posturing, and indeed if most of the costs are sunk, to may be efficient to keep things as they are. But calling attention to $100 million investments that are now used in, let’s say unusual ways, is perhaps a political statement worth making:

Municipalities are finding other uses for stadia. The Leiria stadium, whose annual electricity bill this year will be about 111,000 euros according to published accounts, hosts corporate events. Rooms at the Faro-Loule stadium are being used for temporary classes as a local school is renovated. In Coimbra, the municipal stadium will stage a concert by rock band U2 in October.

Still, the situation is unsustainable, according to Pereira, the Aveiro deputy. He said the town should consider demolishing its stadium.

“It was a mistake building it in the first place,” Pereira said. “Now we have to do something about it.”

Maybe Bono can figure something out.

* reported here

A tip of the hat to Allen!