Editorial: Picking our way Thru a Sea of Red and White

Analysis

Photo by Melinda Nagy / Shutterstock.com

Summer deadlines always have a tendency to be distracting for those of us working away on the pages of this newspaper at BBJ Towers. Strains of jazz, the chinking of glasses, and the odd burst of raucous laughter often drift up from the eateries and bars of Gozsdu udvar.

This collection of seven buildings and their courtyards in Pest’s District VII can be approached from Király, Dob, or Holló utca. According to the official website, it is the place “Where happy people meet.” By and large, it certainly sounds like it.

Tonight’s deadline, however, has seen things taken to a new level. It seems to have become a temporary home for at least some of the many Sevilla soccer fans in town for the 2023 UEFA Europa League final, due to kick off at the Puskás Aréna, the national stadium, at 9 p.m. As I may have mentioned, I am on a deadline, so I haven’t had time to go down and do a thorough investigation, but all I can see from the balcony is a sea of white shirts with red trim. The Roma fans, who sport a deeper red jersey with a natty yellow trim, must be somewhere else.

The chinking of glasses has gone, with plastic beakers very much the order of the day. Rousing soccer chants have supplanted loud laughter. I have heard it often enough to recognize “Campione, campione, olé, olé, olé,” but I am neither fluent in Spanish nor a particular football fan, so I can’t say precisely what the other songs are about.

I am sure the businesses around Gozsdu udvar are delighted with the boost to trade. A lot of the apartments around here seem to be short-rental properties. I guess many have been taken by the fans, who have been roaming the streets in increasing numbers since the start of the long weekend. Even five-star hotels have been fully booked. But I wonder how happy the ordinary residents of District VII will be. The area will quieten down as we get nearer to kick-off, but you know those fans will be back soon enough.

There is always a trade-off to be made for great sporting occasions. The hospitality sector, in particular, will be happy to make hay, but anyone trying to get across town from this afternoon on would have seen the traffic delays at first hand. I am reminded of the comments of a real estate consultant back when Hungary was bidding to host the 2024 Olympic Games before it eventually withdrew from the race in 2017. He admitted to having divided feelings.

“Of course, as a proud Hungarian, I would love to see us win [the bidding contest], but if we do, all that will be built for years is the infrastructure for the games. Everything else will be put on hold; there won’t be money or resources or workers for anything for years. And can you imagine trying to get around Budapest?”

The capital gets a proud moment in the sun (better yet, under the Puskás Aréna floodlights) tonight. I wish those businesses that can benefit great success. Perhaps we will get a new generation of Spanish and Italian tourists longing to return over the next few years, looking to explore one of the great cities more peacefully and at a more leisurely pace. If you are trying to commute anywhere, good luck. And, above all, let us hope the evening passes with all the sporting drama you could wish for and none of the violence that can sometimes mar such events.

Robin Marshall

Editor-in-chief

This editorial was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 2, 2023.

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