The countdown for EuroBasket 2015 officially started for Ukraine after the FIBA Europe leadership made public the Ukrainian logo and visual identity of EuroBasket 2015 [on Sunday, at a special ceremony and press conference at Stozice Arena in Ljubljana, a few hours before the EuroBasket 2013 medal games]. It was a colorful transformer basketball. When assembled, it reminds one of a Cossack dancing the national hopak.
“We chose Portugal’s Brandia Central to design our logo after studying the offers from others, considering that Brandia had developed the logos for UEFA Euro-2012 and EuroBasket 2013,” says Markian Lubkivsky, EuroBasket 2013 director.
EuroBasket 2015 qualifiers will be held in six Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, and Odesa. There will be teams from 24 European countries that will have to play 90 games within 20 days.
Ukraine’s male team appears to have started the big holiday by placing sixth in the current European championships, contrary to all basketball moguls’ – and even team coaches’ – expectations, receiving the entrance ticket to the Big League, EuroBasket 2014 in Spain, for the first time in 21 years of independent national basketball. This team also registered a historic breakthrough during the European championships, passing the first team-standing phase.
Now it is up to the Ukrainian government to keep up the good job. Oleksandr Vilkul, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, said during the launch ceremony that every effort would be exerted to make it the most spectacular European basketball championships.
Ukraine will indeed have to exert every effort, considering that, unlike Slovenia, where most sports infrastructures were ready (with the only exception of one in Ljubljana that had to be replaced), here everything will have to be started from scratch. All of the scheduled [EuroBasket 2015] arenas exist on paper.
“We are building state-of-the-art sports arenas that will create a new cluster in Ukraine’s economy after EuroBasket 2015. These facilities will accommodate more than 100 kinds of sport,” said Vilkul, adding that nine training grounds will be built with central budget money, including three such fully equipped facilities for the Ukrainian national team training in all kinds of sport, and six ones for junior sports schools.
Slovenia says EuroBasket 2013 has cost it 26 million euros. Ukraine is up for considerably larger expenditures. Cabinet estimates point to 7.5 billion hryvnias including some 3.4 billion’s worth of construction of modern runways at Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk air terminals; 1.4 billion’s worth of development of infrastructures in the EuroBasket host cities. Four private investors have signed up for the project: Ihor Kolomoisky, Serhii Kurchenko, Dmytro Buriak, and Borys Kolesnikov. They will invest relying on the legally established state-private-entrepreneurship procedures. In other words, the investor will have to foot 25 percent of all bills and the government will undertake to help this investor with sports construction loans from the central bank, and will refund his loan interest payments.
Vilkul told The Day that there would be 100,000 temporary jobs available during the construction of such sports facilities, and then 10,000 standing jobs for personnel. The Cabinet also expects some one million fans to attend EuroBasket 2015, and that each fan will part with at least 200 euros: “We’ll earn some 200 million euros that will be added to our central budget,” he said.
The finals will be held in Kyiv, with two prestigious companies – United Basketball Investments (to be paid for by Ihor Kolomoisky) and DeVision (to be paid for by Dmytro Buriak) – competing for the construction of sports facilities. Vilkul says it has been agreed with the FIBA Europe leadership that the finals will be held in Kyiv, using the sports facility that will have been built by UBI, and that the second one will accommodate the semifinals.
“There is no secret about Ukraine being under the obligation to build sports arenas in six cities. That’s a lot, but it can be done… We’ll closely watch what is being done… You can rest assured that we will let no risks passed unnoticed,” FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak told The Day. When asked about the timeframe, he said this issue remains on the agenda and refused further comment.
Vilkul was more forthright. When asked how one could expect such projects to be made available on time, unlike those of Euro-2012, he replied that the government would keep a sensitive finger on the pulse: “All these sports arenas must be ready during the first quarter of 2015, with half of them made ready by the summer of 2014.”
EuroBasket 2015 organizers appear to be optimistic. Kamil Novak said he was sure that Ukraine was a big country, and that it would organize perhaps the best tournament in the history of basketball, in 2015. He told The Day that the Ukrainian national team’s performance could be a breakthrough, and that Ukraine could stun the world with a new record in maybe two years.
“In August this year, Ukraine hosted the U16 European Championship Men, demonstrating the highest level of organization. Now the national team of Ukraine has become a major sensation at EuroBasket 2013 and jumped into elite ranks of European basketball. Ukraine made everybody in Europe talk about its success. In two years, our national team will be even stronger for the EuroBasket hosted in our Ukrainian cities. I am sure that this will raise even more the interest in basketball in Ukraine, which is now greatly improved with the success of our team. I am convinced that EuroBasket 2015 will be the best in history,” Olympic champion and FBU President Oleksandr Volkov told The Day, adding that there are some 100,000 children playing basketball in Ukraine.