A historic day
PAOK FC and the group of companies SALFO-Populous today signed the agreement for the study of the masterplan and business plan for the New Toumba and presented the project to the public.
After the signing of the Presidential Decree that paved the way for the start of the construction of the New Toumba, the next phase of the process that includes the official studies which will ensure the necessary construction permits are secured officially began on Tuesday (21.06) morning.
PAOK FC has formalized the beginning of its collaboration with the group of companies that will be headed by SALFO, who will take over the management and the company Populous, who are the group’s architects.
After the signatures were penned to the agreements with the two companies, the parties involved presented the project that will be launched to the public.
PAOK FC was represented at the press conference by the Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Chrysostomos Gagatsis, the Management Member, Kyriakos Kyriakos, the project manager, Dimitris Moutsakis, and the Head of Facilities and Building Development, Ioannis Dimogiannis.
Gagatsis spoke of a historic day for the city, but also focused on the contribution of Ivan Savvidis, who gave «flesh and blood» to the New Toumba vision, stating: «This is one of the most historic days in the history of PAOK, a day we have been waiting for a long time. A day that is the first step towards the construction of the New Toumba. A day that without the benefactor and leader of the club, Ivan Savvidis, could not even be mentioned. His vision, and his perseverance has brought us here, something he had said from day one and now makes it a reality. A huge day for PAOK, for Thessaloniki, for all of us.»
Moutsakis introduced the partner companies and spoke about the guidelines they have received from PAOK: «The Salfo-Populous group are the scholars of the New Toumba and the architect is Populous, a company for which their main focus of work is stadiums around the world. Salfo has vast experience in project management. Thessaloniki, the Toumba, and PAOK fans should be very happy that such a team has taken over the new stadium project, in fact yesterday, the 20th of the month, was the first day of work. Within the next two months we will receive three proposals of the field studies, which will include the master plan. These proposals, which will be fully detailed and will include everything, will be evaluated by us, and then by the people of PAOK and Thessaloniki. Once we choose the proposal, then we will proceed to the maturation period of the concept, which will take between 4-5 months.»
«Then there are two study roads, one for the stadium and one for the surrounding area (in consultation with the municipality and the regional government). After the concept matures, a building permit will be issued. The project is important for the whole of Thessaloniki, it will regenerate the whole area of Toumba. It will respect the environment, give new life to the area, and such development is indeed needed.
After the completion of the concept, in six months the building permit will be ready. I believe that in the summer of 2023 we will have the building permit.
The project brief gave clear instructions on the concepts to be delivered. The first is the absolute compliance in all areas of FIFA and UEFA, the second guideline is to transfer the soul and energy of the current Toumba, and the atmosphere of the Toumba. The third line is the commercial exploitation of the stadium space, so that it can operate 365 days a year and not only when the team has matches.
Regarding the surrounding area, we want to make a space that will give sustainability to the area. Let families come, let people from all over the city play sports. There were a lot of people interested in the New Toumba project, but in the end Salfo and Populous were the best choice.»
Finally, Dimogiannis commented: «What we are living through now started five years ago in a discussion with Mr. Savvidis. Then we decided to make the new PAOK stadium here in Toumba, and not somewhere else. We managed this with perseverance and a lot of work, to make the new stadium in the area that both the people of the team and Mr. Savvidis wanted.
Specific arrangements were made, checks to get to this point today. For us here at PAOK, the New Toumba is not just one piece by itself. For PAOK, the New Toumba is a series of projects that need to be done. The place where the team will compete, as well as other projects, the installation of the facilities for the Amateur arm, the search for places to absorb parts of the club that are located in the Toumba area.
There are still many issues, but immediately we will have to draft a memorandum of cooperation with the Municipality of Thessaloniki to shape the plans for the area around the stadium. Another memorandum with the Ministry of Culture in case ancient sites and artifacts are found, consultation with the government is needed because in these large projects there must be good cooperation. We want to quickly solve any problems that may arise. Our goal is to be in the new stadium by 2026 and it is a realistic goal.
We can not say today about the capacity, the company has been informed. The capacity will arise from the study which is carried out by the company. We more or less know the facts. The project allows us for larger capacities, but the minimum limit is 35,000. Rest assured that we will do our best for the optimal capacity of the New Toumba.
Other scenarios were considered for areas far from Toumba. Everything was put on the table but we made a decision for the Toumba area. Now, the international practice is for stadiums to be integrated into the urban fabric, so the choice of Toumba is the best choice for both PAOK and the city. There were some different views in the municipal councils, but I think the whole city wants the project to be done in Toumba.»
Then Salfo and Populous took the floor, presenting their work to the public and sharing their reasoning for the New Toumba project.
SALFO & Associates SA – Management & Technical Consultants, was founded in Athens in 1994 by engineers and scientists of other specialties with long experience in the field of technical consulting services, both in Greece and abroad.
It was established to fill a large gap in the Greek market in the Project Management and Construction Management (Project and Construction Management) sectors, in view of the many major infrastructure projects of the 2000s.
The company was active in the most emblematic infrastructure projects in Greece such as Egnatia Odos, Olympia Odos, Ethniki Odos E65, Ionia Odos, etc. Its international presence began in 2006, with the establishment of its first branch in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, before it then expanded further, with the establishment of branches in the rest of the Middle East (Qatar, Oman, Dubai and the Saudi subsidiary SALFO Saudi. For the past 14 years, the company has managed major projects in the Middle East such as Vendome Mall, Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Al Reem Island Development, The Corniche Mixed Use Development (Nation Towers), Ghantoot Bridges, South Shamka Infrastructure Project, Eco Point Saadiyat Development, Khalifa Port Industrial Zone Infrastructure project in the UAE, the North / South Extensions to Ras Abu Abboud Road Project & NDIA project in Qatar, and the upgrade program for the Saudi Arabian railway network, etc.
The main services provided by the company include the following:
• Project & Construction Management
• Management and Elaboration of Studies of private and public projects, mainly of buildings and infrastructure.
• Quality Assurance & Quality Control (QA / QC).
• Operation and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects.
• Development and Operation of Information Management Systems.
• Technical Support to schemes participating in projects with Concession Contracts and Public & Private Sector Partnerships (PPPs).
Ioannis Fotinos, Salfo CEO, stated:
«I feel very excited and proud to be working beside the amazing team at PAOK. I visited 3-4 years ago and walked out on the pitch. I may not be a PAOK supporter, but I felt a shiver walking across the pitch inside the stadium. It was something new for me!
When we were invited by PAOK to submit our proposal for the studies and coordination of the New Toumba project, I was thinking about would would be the best combination. I thought that Populous is the ideal solution with its vast experience in the construction of stadiums, along with a number of design offices. That was the idea of forming this group.»
Populous has designed some of the most famous stadiums in the world including Wembley Stadium, Emirates Stadium, the London Olympic Stadium, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as well as the new «Cathedral» stadium for Inter and AC Milan in Milan.
In his comments about the New Toumba, Populus project director Nick Reynolds shared the company’s vision for PAOK’s new stadium:
«It is a great pleasure to be here with you today. It is a great honor to undertake this project and it is very important that we are working with such a great team as the one here at PAOK. It is a project that we want to become a part in the entire history of the team.
As you know, our design approach is to create a project unique to the environment and the community as a whole. We are lucky as a company to design stadiums for moments with great passion, and we are planning again here for a team with a rich and great history. As we have discussed many times it is like creating a brand new body.»
«In this way we want to help PAOK to make a stadium that will be a landmark for Thessaloniki. It will not be a simple stadium, but it will be a hub for everyone, a place for events all year round and for all the inhabitants of the city, so that we can increase the use of the stadium beyond matches.
We want to take the new stadium to another level. Take this fiery atmosphere and give it to the new building. We focus on the experience of the fans, we use the geometry of the space as a tool, but we also include the latest technology to help continue this atmosphere in the New Toumba.
The area of the stadium is excellent. I believe that we will make something extraordinary that future generations will enjoy. We consider the location to be ideal, it is a rare opportunity to show respect for the history of the club; our goal is to make the most sustainable stadium. As with the existing stadiums, we want the New Toumba to belong to the people, to be for the people …
We will try to get inspiration from the local area for the New Toumba. We have done the same in other projects, to envision a plan based on the data and information we collect. You will have seen in other projects we have done such as Aviva or Wembley or Emirates that we are trying to do something completely different. An example is Tottenham’s stadium, which is a landmark for the city of London.»
«The key element of this stadium is not to compromise on only football matches. The stadiums that are located in the center of cities are not only about the games held there, we want to make a stadium suitable for various events that will give a different life to the area. Essentially what we want is to create a dynamic core and transfer the passion of the existing Toumba to the new design.
The New Toumba is one of the most important and demanding projects we have undertaken. The most interesting projects in such sites create challenges for us. A project that carries a cultural heritage and it must be close to the people. We now understand how important it is to be as close as possible to such places. In my career I have seen many stadiums both inside and outside cities over the past 25 years. I have noticed that when we started it was about transfering from the city to the suburbs, and now it is the opposite, from the suburbs we are returning more to the cities. There is virtually no problem with the location, I consider it ideal.»