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'We are living in a great moment of history for Gdansk' - Mayor Pawel Adamowicz proud to host Euro 2012

In an emotional interview with Goal.com, Pawel Adamowicz speaks with pride on the day his city hosts its first game at Euro 2012, with Italy taking on Spain

 Ashish Sharma
 Based in Gdansk
 
EXCLUSIVE

The Mayor of Gdansk has spoken of his pride as the city prepares to host its first game of Euro 2012, with Italy taking on defending champions Spain.

Official sources suggest there are some 9,000 Spanish fans and around 7,000 fans from Italy in the city for the match at the PGE Arena.

Pawal Adamowicz is zipping around the city from meeting to meeting to ensure that everything goes like clockwork ahead of the main event, but admits he doubted such a day would ever arrive.

“I am 47 years old," he said. "I grew up in the time of Communism. I could never have believed that one day my city would be hosting the European Championship. Our brand new stadium has been built as a future ground for our local club side Lech Gdansk. Did you know their colours are green and white? That means I suppose I should be supporting the Irish!

“Building this stadium - as we like to call it our Amber Stadium [because of the colour on the outside] cost something in the region of 700 million Zloty. That money came from the city's budget for the Euros to be held here. In total we have spent one billion Euros to host the event here.”

The city's budget was half a million Euros, with the rest coming in the form of subsidies from the European Union.

But Adamowicz is quick to point out the money from Europe was not specifically a funding spree for the European Championship.

“Countries in Eastern Europe are going through a very interesting time at the moment," he added. "There is of course a lot of support for projects and development that is coming from the EU.

"But first and foremost we have to give credit to our citizens for their mobilization in ensuring that half of the funding came from the city itself.”

It is clear that Gdansk is still very much a work in progress in terms of its development.

“We are spending well in terms of investment on roads, rail links and trams lines and in other areas of city life," Adamowicz insists. "These are all things which will help our city for the future. This is part of the development project for the city and it will continue long after the football is over."

But the Mayor admits the picture has not been a rosy one all the way through.

“When we told our citizens that we had to build a stadium to comply with UEFA regulations many pointed out that this money could have gone on social projects," he said. "And they had a point. But we knew that this was going to help us with long-term investment and projects. So you cannot make everyone happy.”

Adamowicz says his ambitions for the city stretch far beyond hosting Euro 2012.

“I hope that we can now encourage more investment in Gdansk," he continued. "We want our region to become more popular amongst tourists. We also hope to invite foreign investment by outsourcing services and in other parts of our economy.

"But it is really important that the majority of this investment is an investment in people. Our ambition is to create a higher level of Polish life for the people of Gdansk.”

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