FINA 2017 to cost Hungarian taxpayers at least HUF 130 billion

May 2, 2017

“…a depressing parking structure” worth HUF 41.6 billion

Everything is on track seventy-three days ahead of the biggest sporting event ever hosted in Hungary, Minister of National Development Miklós Seszták said Tuesday during a press conference hosted by the 2017 FINA organizing committee, despite projected costs exceeding five times original estimates.

According to Napi.hu, Seszták said that while the cost of organizing the FINA world swimming championships is only HUF 32.9 billion, additional fees, licenses and other costs bring expenditures up to HUF 38.6 billion. Such added costs include lodging for officials, athletes, and VIP guests, but also include the operating costs of the venues, dope testing, ticketing, and the opening and closing ceremonies.

Seszták said the total cost of the preparatory and infrastructural work for the event comes out to some HUF 92 billion (USD 321 million), and claimed that the overwhelming majority of these funds (HUF 85 billion) would have been spent even if Hungary had not hosted the swimming championships. These costs include reconstruction of the Pest-side riverbank and Margit Island, renovations at the Dagály beach, and reconstruction of the Hajós and Széchy, and Császár-Komjádi swimming pools.

But the single most costly project related to the championships has been the Duna Aréna swimming center, which cost taxpayers some HUF 41.6 billion, and was described by one journalist as looking like a “depressing parking structure.”

In other words, Hungary’s total costs of preparing and hosting the 2017 FINA championships – according to Seszták’s own words – are now at least HUF 130 billion (USD 454 million).

Peanuts compared to revenues?

Seszták put the estimated direct revenues generated by investment at between HUF 7-10 billion. These numbers, however, do not reflect the tourism-related spending of fans or athletes during their stay in Hungary, he said.

According to 444.hu, back in March 2015, then-president of Hungary’s Swimming Association Tamás Gyárfás informed the public that Hungary’s costs for hosting the 2017 FINA swimming championships would only be HUF 25 billion.