The new sports complex Chișinău Arena was to open in October 2019, one year after its construction started. Today, people cannot spend their free time inside the Arena, although almost a year has passed since the date promised by one of the project’s authors, politician Andrian Candu. The sports fields within the Arena cannot host events. The complex cannot open it’s doors, even with completed construction works and installed equipment necessary for its proper functioning.
So far, the state paid €11,5 million for the Chișinău Arena project. During the construction period in 2018-2019, the costs averaged €10 million. In July 2020, the state transferred €1,5 million to the private Turkish partner, SAM Investment Company, as part of the Public-Private Partnership Agreement’s rate. By the end of the year, the authorities must pay another €1,5 million. The state will repeat the procedure for the next 11 years, to keep the ownership rights on the sports complex and to redeem the investment made by the Turkish partner.
Chișinău Arena was to be opened in October 2019. However, it did not happen, and in February 2020, President Igor Dodon, after visiting the complex, announced a new date – May 1, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic ruined the authorities’ plans, and the sports complex did not open in May. The Public Property Agency officially informed ZdG that Chișinău Arena’s commissioning is due October – November 2020.
An additional amount of €4,3 million and a new deadline for commissioning
According to ZdG, the pandemic is not the main reason for delaying the commissioning of Chișinău Arena. In May 2019, just a few months before the commissioning deadline, the authorities found that the arena did not have connections to existing municipal networks. Thus, the Filip government decided to empower Summa, the private partner, to complete these works. Over the next 11 years, the state agreed to pay the primary contract and another €1,5 million in installments, the investment value reaching €44,5 million.
After the Filip government’s fall, the authorities found that the multipurpose arena could not operate because there are no built access roads, a mandatory condition for the complex’s operation. According to the contract, this was the state’s responsibility.
The Arena needs two access roads to function correctly. ZdG found that the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure drafted a government decision by which the private partner will complete these works for an additional €2,8 million costs. They have not yet made the decision public. After the Government approves it, the Chișinău Arena project’s value will reach €47,3 million, exceeding the initial price with €4 million.
“The Arena cannot operate unless there is access to it from two directions.”
“We negotiate with the private partner to take on these investments, which are extremely necessary for the project. Of course, the cost includes other infrastructure elements. The documents are almost ready, and we hope that once we sign them, we will start the works of connecting the arena to the road network. The Arena cannot function unless there is access to it from two directions. It is the direction from Bucovina Street and the R6 national road,” says Eduard Calancea, the administrator of Arena Națională SRL, the state-owned company that will run the future complex.
The access roads’ construction to the sports complex highlighted another problem overlooked in the project’s initial phase. The streets would have to pass through private property lands. Therefore, the state pays another €60,000 (1 million lei) from the state budget to compensate the current owners and get the right to build the roads.
“Indeed, the lots are private property. Unfortunately, we overlooked this detail in the initial project plan. Our Constitution protects private property. We negotiated with each of the owners, who were understandable with the project’s importance and did not have high demands for us,” says Eduard Calancea.
A company intends to sue the state
Trivent SRL is one of the landowners on which Bucovina Street’s access road is to be built. The company’s representative says that they purchased the land at market price from a natural person in 2017 before the idea of creating a multipurpose arena in that area appeared in the public space. After the Chișinău Arena project’s launch, Trivent SRL could no longer use the land as initially intended. If the authorities do not come up with solutions, the company plans to sue the state to recover the damages resulting from the impossibility of using the land in the last two years.
“We are still hoping for a solution. At least, we could sign an act certifying that they will pay in installments. We are aware that the state is in difficulty, especially in this Covid-19 situation. However, if they tell us to wait, there will be no answer. We also suffered damage, so we intend to go to the court to ask for compensation for the damage caused and the clearing of the land,” says Mihai Triboi, lawyer-consultant at the company Trivent SRL.
Some of the owners told us anonymously that during the Democratic Party’s administration, there was enormous pressure on them to give up their property without claiming any compensation. Although not threatened, others cannot use their land because the uncertainties and authorities refuse to issue construction permits.
Several buildings and 23 land lots estimated at over €1,018,150
There are 23 lots with an area of 5 acres subject to appropriation near the multipurpose arena. There are economically active entities on some of these lands. The land and buildings’ cadastral value exceeds €610,890 (12 million lei). However, the market value is several times higher.
The authorities failed to solve the problem several times. Three consecutive Governments have prepared draft Government decisions on expropriation. However, the Executive refused these projects. The National Anticorruption Center criticized the Sandu Government project, stating that the state should not pay for these lands because the primary owner, Stauceni District’s City Hall, gave them fraudulently. Cadastral data show the trade of some lands went with owners who are decent landlords according to the law.
In March 2018, Vladimir Plahotniuc and Andrian Candu, the Democratic Party leaders, launched the Chișinău Arena project, promising that it will require minimal expenses from the state budget and will function already in October 2019.