After BGN 13 million, “Arena Shumen”, opened in 2018, is now in need of major repair

Thus, the local administration tried to hide the condition of “Arena Shumen” Hall
Photo: Diana Zhelyazkova

“Arena Shumen” Hall, for which the state and the municipality spent nearly BGN 13 million, has again leakages despite the repairs that began soon after its opening in 2018. The official staircase to the hall is already soaked with rain and snow that fell in recent days, and the plaster is moldy and crumbling in large pieces, an inspection of the “Pro Veritas” found. However, the leak is not from the last winter at all. It started last summer after each heavy rain.

The beautiful hall is

the pride of the mayor Lyubomir Hristov,

who did not fail to brag about it and even called it “The Jewel of Shumen”. However, it had the misfortune to give defects and to leak even after the first heavy rain. At the end of July 2018, just a week after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov inaugurated the hall, it flooded during the rain, and the corridors and locker rooms swam in 15 centimeters of water.

The event was “immortalized” in amateur photos of citizens who were at the same time in the hall on a “tourist tour” organized by the mayor’s office. After the outraged citizens of Shumen posted on social networks photos of the corridors swimming in water, the local administration stopped the tourist visits to “Arena Shumen”, and the contractor of the site – “GP Group” said that it would repair the damage at its own expense.

It was explained that

the culprit for the flood

is an overflowed shaft on the ground floor of the hall, which could not withstand the torrential rain. After the incident, the company announced that the problem had been rectified by installing a non-return valve “so that this thing would not happen again”.

Two years later, traces of a new leak began to be seen, this time on the stairs to the hall. After rain, puddles formed under the stairs, and the plaster began to mold and swell. Apparently, the leak has been going on since the beginning of 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the hall was locked and no one, except the municipal enterprise “Municipal Housing and Property” (MHP), which manages it, knows

what’s going on inside?

However, the soaked and crumbling staircase could not be hidden. In the autumn of 2020, the hall was filmed by a television team of the project “Black Book of Government Waste in Bulgaria” of the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation. “Arena Shumen” was included in the book as a bad example of inefficient spending of public resources. The team asked to enter the photo room, but was never allowed inside.

The journalists and the foundation representatives were transferred

from phone to phone

between the press secretary of the mayor of Shumen and the manager of the municipal enterprise “MHP”, each of whom excused himself with the other for the forbidden access to the hall. In the end, the TV team never managed to enter “Arena Shumen”.

This winter, the staircase problem has apparently become even more serious. The moldy plaster is already crumbling and falling in large pieces, part of the roof panels have been removed, and the flood has spread and covered almost the entire staircase.

The municipality tried to hide

the unpleasant sight,

by enclosing the stairwell with high partitions.

The flooded staircase of the multimillion hall was also filmed yesterday by a team of the German public television ZDF and the journalist Britta Hilpert. It was she who asked Prime Minister Borissov about the state of the media in Bulgaria during his meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna on March 16 this year. “Freedom of speech is as free as in other countries,” the angry Borisov replied at the time, describing Hilpert’s question as “incorrect.”

German ZDF journalist Britta Hilpert
Photo: “Pro Veritas”

Yesterday the German journalist looked at the flowing stairs of “Arena Shumen” for a long time and puzzled and could not believe that

a building built with BGN 13 million public resource

is in this state.

“How is that possible, why aren’t people angry, why is the state doing nothing,” Hilpert asked. Questions that we have been asking for a long time, but to which no one answers. The owner of the hall – the Mayor of Shumen Lyubomir Hristov, has not answered critical journalistic questions for more than a year. During one of his last press conferences, after a question asked by “Pro Veritas”, he allowed himself to say even the following: “I will not answer you!” German journalists still have a lot to learn about “media freedom” in Bulgaria.   

And what is happening with “Arena Shumen” will continue to sound like a grotesque interpretation of the saying   : “Where it flowed, it will flow again…”

 

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