The Government has decided to allocate 7 million euros to the renovation of the Kalev Stadium in Tallinn. The home of nationwide Dance Festivals will have a new look by 2019, when the stadium will host the 20th dance festival and which marks the 150th anniversary of the first song festival.
A little over 14 million euros will be used to build new bleachers at the stadium for 15,000 people, to set up new communication networks and to create support facilities for dancers and athletes, which are currently non-existent. The renewed stadium will be the only stadium in Estonia that complies with international requirements for sport and culture facilities that are used all year round. The presumption of the State investment would be an equal contribution by the City of Tallinn.
Minister of Culture Indrek Saar said that we can now consider the lengthy discussions on the necessity of a dance stadium finished, and that the long overdue debt to dance enthusiasts shall be paid. “This stadium holds a symbolic meaning for the entire Estonian nation, as it has been home to Dance Festivals for over half a century. The Dance Festival of the coming summer will still be held on the old stadium, but the new stadium will be inaugurated by the dancers and the audience of the jubilee festival of 2019,” confirmed Saar.
The current state of the Kalev Stadium and its facilities no longer meets the needs of dancers or athletes: the stadium, its bleachers, utility networks and the few existing support facilities are all depreciated. In the eve of several previous Dance Festivals, the State has allocated 100,000 euros each time to fix up the Kalev Stadium, but this has not halted the depreciation of the facilities.
The schedule of works does not interfere with preparation of the 2017 Dance Festival “I will stay” (“Mina jään”). Plans in the near future include compiling a zoning plan of the Kalev Stadium and announcing an architecture competition in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Architects. The second half of the coming year, after the Youth Dance Festival, is when workers could start taking apart the current buildings and slopes of the stadium. New bleachers will have several thousand additional seats, which ensures a good overview of ongoings on the stadium to a bigger audience. New support facilities and new entrance points to the stadium will be set up under the bleachers.
Minister Saar added that new production opportunities will be kind of like a challenge for dancers. “Decades in the same environment have given the dancers muscle memories, however, we are now able to break the routine a little bit and reach for new heights. This is what the dance folks have wanted. The necessity of this investment will be proved to everyone with the next big Dance Festival,” said Saar.
The State is only investing into the renovation of the stadium, future maintenance expenses will be covered by the owner of the stadium, MTÜ Eesti Spordiselts Kalev.
The Kalev Stadium was built in 1955 and it has been home to Dance Festivals ever since. The stadium is in daily use of the public during periods between Dance Festivals.