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Helsinki approves another €38m in Olympic Stadium funding

The city council approved the extra money for the budget-busting renovation project after heated debate.

Helsingin Olympiastadion uudistuksen jälkeen
The renovated stadium has capacity for 36,200 spectators at sporting events. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

The Helsinki City Council approved an increase of roughly 38 million euros in funding for the renovation of the city's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The approval followed heated debate among council members about the almost five-year-long project, which exceeded original cost estimates by well over 100 million euros.

The funding decision called for an equal contribution from the Finnish state. So far, the city of Helsinki and the national government have split the costs equally.

The price tag for renovating the 1938 stadium, which reopened in September last year, hit almost 338 million euros. Helsinki's decision to contribute a further 37,936,500 euros brings the maximum amount the city will pay for the building work to just over 168 million euros, rather than the 130 million previously decided.

European football pushed up costs

Increased security measures requested by European footballing body UEFA were a factor in pushing up the cost of the renovation, said Helsinki Deputy Mayor for the Urban Environment Anni Sinnemäki (Green).

"We can be proud that, together with the state, we have renewed such a historically significant building," she said.

"Of course, it's easier for costs to rise in such a unique site than it would be in a new-build, for example," she added.

Helsinki City Manager Sami Sarvilinna, who presented the additional funding request to the council, said not all of UEFA's requirements had been known when the original budget was drawn up.

"The association updated its requirements after the initial budget," Sarvilinna said.

Audit office criticised renovation process

In January the National Audit Office of Finland (NAOF) issued a report criticising the stadium renovation project, saying "the state aid process from decision-making to granting was not appropriate in all respects."

The NAOF also found that supervision of the renovation by the Ministry of Education and Culture "did not meet the requirements of the complex, long-term project."

"The steering group appointed for the project failed to manage the costs of the project appropriately," the body wrote.

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