* Ilie Năstase: "If I was Țiriac, I would sue Mugur Isărescu"
PNL senator Daniel Zamfir, president of the Budget Commission in the Senate, a vocal critic of the banking system, of the NBR and of its governor is adamant about bringing up the activity of the NBR from all angles.
The implications of not using the sports base "Arenele BNR" for international competitions will be analyzed today by the senators in the Budget, Finance, Banking Activity And Capital Market Commission, together with businessman Ion Țiriac, former president of the Romanian Olympic Committee, Marius Alexandru Dunca, the minister of youth and sports, and George Cosac, president of the Romanian Tennis Federation.
Parliamentary sources claim that the "Arenele BNR" athletic facility has not been modernized, instead it has actually been neglected and left to deteriorate, even though it could have been used to host international sports competitions. "Bankers, both those from private banks, as well as those from the NBR, go there to play tennis, organize events for their own interest, that facility is only used by the banking system", our sources told us.
Former tennismen Ilie Năstase and Ion Țiriac criticized NBR governor Mugur Isărescu this summer, for his indifference to the situation of the NBR arenas, which are in advanced state of degradation. The two accused the management of the NBR of refusing to assign the plot of land to the Mayoralty of Bucharest, while also being unwilling to invest in modernizing the facility which would allow "Arenele BNR" it to receive the safety approval from the Emergency Situations Inspectorate (ISU).
Ilie Năstase even said that if he were Ion Țiriac, who was forced to move to Budapest the BRD Năstase Țiriac Trophy, after the Central Court of the "Arenele BNR" complex was shut down by the ISU, he would sue the governor. Ilie Năstase said: "Țiriac spent money of his own to hold this tournament. If I was him, I'd sue Mr. Isărescu. Him personally, not the NBR. Because he has stolen money [...from Ion Țiriac], and let a 20 year old tournament die off. (...) The Court of the NBR Arenas does not belong to Mugur Isărescu, it belongs to Romania. And that Bank should be called «The Romanians' Bank», because it belongs to Romanians. It's not normal that somebody has been in that position for 27 years (ed. note: governor at the NBR), more than Ceaușescu, it is not normal. It was nice of them to call the NBR Arenas the Țiriac Năstase NBR Arenas, but their gift was to have them closed down".
In August this year, businessman Ion Țiriac accused the National Bank of Romania (NBR) of gaining ownership of the Athletic Facility "Arenele BNR" in 1991 "illegally". The complex was used until 2015 to host the BRD Năstase Țiriac Trophy tournament, which has now been relocated to Budapest. Țiriac said: "Having an event that is unique in Romania (ed. note: the BRD Năstase Țiriac Trophy), being broadcasted in 110 countries and having 25-30 million Euros a year in advertising that Romania gets for free... and then moving it somewhere else because 70 years later the country still doesn't have a tennis arena. Because even the one that exists (ed. note: the NBR Arenas) has been stolen. This is just unworkable. And perhaps not literally stolen, but if the owner is entitled to it, then at least it should take care of it... but truth be told, they did not have a right to it, because there was a law that an athletic base will stay where it is and will be available to everybody. (...) The National Bank of Romania has illegally taken over the NBR Arenas park in 1991, in my opinion. Illegally, because it has always been a sports facility. It didn't belong to the NBR since its inception in 1700. And in 1990 those Arenas were under the control of the Ministry of Sports. Ceaușescu built that Arena in 7 days after the Davis Cup finals. We said we'd build the stands, because it wasn't in good condition anymore... They said we couldn't because it was their property (ed. note: of the NBR). And what topped it all off was that they put chains around everything and I couldn't take a picture with Ilie Năstase at the Arenas. This is how any scruples and relationship I had with those people ended. I don't know if the whole thing was legal, but I am going to find out".
He mentioned that the Ponta government actually intended to do an exchange of properties, for the "NBR arenas" to become the property of the Ministry of Youths and Sports, which in turn would renovate them.
Ion Țiriac, the owner of the BRD Năstase Țiriac Trophy tournament, relocated it for two years to Budapest because the "NBR Arenas" no longer matched the requirements of the Professional Tennis Association, as the Central Court had been closed. In 2016, at the last edition of the Tournament in Bucharest, the Central Court could not be used, because it did not have the approval of the ISU, and the matches could only be played on the secondary courts.
The NBR: "The NBR has taken steps since back in 2014 to transfer over to the Government the ownership of the perimeter delimited by the Dr. Staicovici - Dr. Lister streets, which was intended for athletic activities"
In response to the accusations of thes two tennismen, the NBR stated the following: "The plot of land of 42-48, Dr. Staicovici street has been the property of the NBR since 1946, and was acquired from "The Romanian Target Shooting Society" of Bucharest. The Central Tennis Arena, along with other buildings on the land, was entirely transferred to the NBR in 1991, following a payment, by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
At the date of that transfer, the buildings and the terrain along them were in a terrible state, requiring significant investments.
After 1991, the NBR made investments in the Central Arena and the training courts of approximately 1,000,000 lei at current prices (setting up the locker rooms in 1997, the metallic stands in 1999, the night lighting installation in the year 2000 etc.).
Also, so far, the NBR has spent over 5,000,000 lei at current prices on the Central Arena and the training courts, expenses with equipment, installations and equipment of the buildings and of the plots of land of the NBR Arena and its ancillary buildings, as well as on administrative costs, (sanitation and maintenance of the buildings, repairs and maintenance of installations, heating and electrical installations, machinery, aid conditioning, sound systems, alarm and security systems, specialized maintenance/cleaning services, tree maintenance and planting, tennis court maintenance etc.). A major part of these activities is represented by the saving and care of the over 30 buttonwood trees (planted at the end of the 19th century), protected by the law and which are part of Romania's patrimony.
The NBR property delimitated by the Dr. Staicovici - Dr. Lister streets mainly hosts professional training and day-to-day activities of the NBR, and is not a sports facility in itself. In the area in question, aside from the Central Tennis Arena and the training courts, as well as the football field - all of them taken over from the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 1991 - there is a professional training center, a small accommodation facility for internal use, two catering areas for internal use. These locations constantly host various NBR activities and it is also where specific events are organized in cooperation with international financial institutions and with academic foreign and Romanian partners.
Starting with 1991, the tennis competitions hosted on the central court and the secondary courts (the Davis Cup, the international tournaments of the ATP and WTA circuits, respectively, as well as other national and international tennis tournaments) have been hosted free of charge by the NBR.
In 2007 Romania joined the EU, and the National Bank of Romania became a member of the European System of Central Banks. The European legislation forces the NBR to focus on the specific objectives of a central bank, namely price stability and also financial stability, which limits the ability of the NBR to get financially involved in activities which are not related to those objectives.
Currently, a rebuilding from the ground up of the Central Arena is necessary, due to a combination of factors: the physical deterioration of the construction which was built in the early 1970s; the successive change in the building safety standards, predominantly the change which occurred in 2016; the stricter requirements when it comes to the construction of stadiums and athletic arenas and the organizing of public events on them, especially in terms of the entry and exit of the public.
The NBR has taken steps since back in 2014 to transfer to the Government the ownership of the perimeter delimited by the Dr. Staicovici - Dr. Lister streets, which was intended for athletic activities, by proposing a number of concrete solutions. Thus, letters have been sent to the Romanian government in July 2014, December 2015 and May 2017. The NBR was and still is fully willing to complete these approaches, within the conditions of the law".
ANCUȚA STANCIU (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)