'Daugava' Stadium in Rīga to get major upgrades

There is a buzz around the Daugava stadium in Rīga as builders are rushing to build an athletics hall and replace the soccer field turf and running track, Latvian Radio reported September 28.

The athletics hall is due to be commissioned on December 31 this year. The possibility for builders to complete it by that time is a concern. The facade of the structure is already looking almost complete, but much more needs to be done inside. Works are carried out by UPB, one of Latvia's largest construction companies.

Daniels Nātriņš, head of the Latvian National Sports Center, which has merged the Daugava stadium complex, Lielupe tennis center, Sigulda ice track and the sports center “Mežaparks” under one roof, also met with the responsible construction supervisor on Wednesday, who has promised to complete the works by December 31. 

“I wouldn't want to speculate now on how much [is done], but what I can say is that we had a conversation today with building supervisors that all the construction work is going fast,” said Nātriņš.

The burden of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the builder, so the financial situation of the Latvian National Sports Center, will not be compromised if the hall is not put into service until the turn of the year, Nārtiņš said. The hall will cost €12.3 million - a sum made up of both national and European funds money.

The Latvian Athletics Union wants to hold its first competition in February. Athletes desire is to inhabit the new hall from autumn to spring, but give it to sports players in the summer. The hall will be multifunctional, with volleyball players, indoor footballers, handball players and floorball players also able to train and play there. It is planned that cultural events will take place in the hall. A bobsleigh start ramp is being constructed.

At the center of the Daugava stadium, no work is currently taking place, but the replacement of the football field turf, as well as the installation of heating systems, is expected to begin soon. The long-worn track for athletics is also to be replaced.

Dmitrijs Miļkevičs, general secretary of the Latvian Athletics Union, said that the highest quality track cover cannot be purchased due to lack of money, but the choice will be between two manufacturers. He had demanded that a specialist in an international category observe the laying of the cover.

It is planned that the Daugava stadium complex will be available to professionals and amateurs alike.

Previously, it was heard from local football clubs and athletes that rent was too expensive. Nārtiņš emphasized that they do not set their own tariffs, but the price is also made up of all taxes, which private stadiums often do not pay when collecting rent in cash.

The Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) wants the stadium and the infrastructure in its area to be as widely accessible as possible to everyone. It is planned that students from the Latvian Academy of Sport Education and Rīga Stradiņš University could train there in the future.

“We are looking for the best solution to how we can better use the infrastructure we create for higher education institutions,” Vladimirs Steinbergs, director of the IZM sports Department, told Latvian Radio. “Quality infrastructure should maximize opportunities for our people, our athletes, to exercise in good conditions.”

Some €50 million of national and European money has already been invested in Daugava Stadium and its complex.

A further €6.3 million will be added to the amount in the near future. Riga City Council Transport Department has invested EUR 22 million in the surrounding infrastructure. Once complete, the complex will include a football and athletics stadium, an ice hall, an athletic and sports game hall, an inflatable football practice hall, an athletic practice field and a basketball and other sports game hall on Krišjāņa Barona Street.

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