Football-wise, today pairs Portugal and Spain in the first semi-final match in Ukraine. Tomorrow, Germany and Italy will face off in Warsaw. I’m in the fan zone tomorrow and again on Sunday before the final match.
Before the volunteer schedule came out for this week, we thought about going to Warsaw tomorrow just to watch the semi-final in the fan zone. It would be interesting to see what their fan zone is like; I understand that it’s huge – holding three times as many people as Poznan’s. Our favorite hotel in Warsaw, which happens to be right by the fan zone, is sold out Other hotels in town are offering rooms for $700 – $900 that night. After the semi-final, they’re back in the $80 – $150 range. We’ll have to watch from here!
|football fans – an irreverent lot 😉|
I must say that Poznan feels a little empty now that the the foreign fans are gone. Immediately after the Ireland – Italy match (the last one played in Poznan), a grassroots effort began to organize a friendly match between a Polish team and the Irish national team. There’s huge interest in this – complete with facebook page, website, and all kind twitter activity. Ed reads a lot of football news and tweets; he’s read that the Irish team is interested in playing Warta Poznan, who also happen to wear green.
I found statistics saying that 80% of our Irish guest plan to return to Poznan in the future. The conversations I had with Irish visitors in the fan zone back this up So many people said they had been expecting an ugly, grey, impoverished city, and they were delighted to find a modern, college town, with beautiful architecture, great public transportation and all kinds of nightlife. One gentleman said that everyone he had run into had been so helpful, whether it was in his hotel, the fan zone, or just buying some bread and cheese at the market.
Many of the Polish people we know are in the hospitality industry – working in restaurants and bars They have all been slammed – hopefully making a lot of money during the festivities and generating tax revenue for the city. I read recently that all of the host cities had taken on debt as they prepared for the matches. (Some funding was provided by UEFA.)
So the preparation and effort that has gone into being a host city should translate into increased tourism over the years, and equally important, it has changed Europe’s perception of Poznan and Poland.