A national stadium will be built in the Lithuania's second city, Kaunas, rather than in the capital Vilnius, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis believes. He says that if the national government and not the authorities of Vilnius had been in charge of the project, the stadium would have been built already.
Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has countered that if the government had met its commitments, the stadium would already be standing in Vilnius.
“We cannot do the job for the municipality. Yes, you have constant pressure on them, and constant attention, and the provision of assistance. We have not managed to bring this project under control since 2015. It's very sad and regrettable, not to mention that European funds will not be used,” the prime minister told reporters on Wednesday.
“In any case, we will have a national stadium in Kaunas, not in the capital. That’s a fact. And as for a stadium in the capital, everything is in the hands of the municipality,” Skvernelis added.
Meanwhile Mayor Šimašius says that the biggest threat to the national stadium project comes from the government and its inaction.
“And regarding the comment that if the government had done it, it would already be standing, I just want to remind you that, based on all the documents we have signed, the government is the one in charge of the project. But it is implementing it in such a way that the prime minister doesn't even know about it,” Šimašius told BNS.
He also said that if the government had not decided to withdraw European funding, “the contract would have been signed already and the work would have been started”.
Povilas Poderskis, the director of administration at Vilnius Municipality, said on Wednesday the municipality hoped to sign a contract for the construction of the national stadium with the Axis Industries, part of the Icor group, in November. Until then, the municipality will be looking for new funding sources.
Attempts to build a stadium meeting international standards in the capital's Šeškinė neighborhood have continued since 1987. Its construction was last started in 2008 but had to be halted as funding stopped.