RIGA - With the support of an investor from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sites in Lucavsala and Ziepniekkalns in Riga are being considered for a potential football stadium, the President of the Latvian Football Federation (LFF) Vadims Lasenko told TV3 this morning.
He said that so far the LFF had done its homework and met UAE businessman Mohamed Ali Alabbarr in Latvia, showing him the potential locations for the new national football stadium. It could be built somewhere in the suburbs of Ziepniekkalns or Lucavsala. The idea of reconstructing the Skonto Stadium for this purpose has also not been ruled out.
Lasenko explained that the LFF has to develop the concept of the proposal, while the UAE investor will let him know how he sees the project developing and the location for the stadium. Ali Alabbarr is said to be positive minded and it is important for him to find a successful business model in order to decide on investing funds in the construction of a stadium in Latvia. "There has to be activity there, not only for football but also for concerts, for example," said the LFF president.
The LFF is looking at the experience of the Baltic States as a whole when discussing this potential project with the UAE investor - both Estonia and Lithuania have stadiums with a capacity of 15,000 seats. "We think we need at least 15,000 seats, but if we want to have not only football here but also, for example, a Beyonce concert, then we need at least 20,000 seats," said Lasenko.
It is not yet clear what the costs of such a project would be, but if it were to happen, UEFA, FIFA and the LFF would also have to invest in it, and there could be also be involvement from the state and Riga municipality.
Lasenko hopes that more clarity on the possible construction of the stadium could be provided in the next two months.
As reported, the LFF plans to build the national stadium with the support of an investor from the UAE. The LFF, together with the potential investor from the UAE, met with Riga Mayor Vilnis Kirsis (New Unity) in Riga City Council earlier this month, and then with Minister of Finance Arvils Aseradens (New Unity) at the Ministry of Finance to discuss the possibilities of developing sports infrastructure in Riga.
UAE businessman Mohamed Ali Alabbarr plans to build a large sports stadium and football pitch to host large-scale international sports competitions and cultural events. The aim of the meeting was to receive the support of the Riga City Council for the creation of such a stadium and confirmation that the city remains ready to work togerher and support the implementation of the project. The meeting at the Ministry of Finance was also aimed at introducing the Minister to a potential investor interested in developing a sports facility of national importance.
According to the LFF, Ali Alabbarr is better known as the founder of Emaar Properties, one of whose best-known projects is the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. With six business segments and 60 active companies, the Emaar Group is present in 36 markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.