Vitamins for Krasnoyarsk
Universiades, also known as World University Games, hold a special place among the super events of the sports world that Russia has been chosen to host. While there is much less grandeur about them compared to the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup, they make at least as much practical sense for the host city’s infrastructure, local communities and international business.
For a long time, foreigners believed that Russia had only two cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. But recently the Kazan Universiade put a new city on the map, and the Olympic Games then helped foreigners to discover Sochi. Now we have four cities on this imaginary map. Very soon they should be joined by a fifth – Krasnoyarsk – which last year won the bid to host the 2019 Winter Universiade. But this will require some more work to be done.
The first question investors usually ask us is, “What sort of connections are there to get to your city?” If you have to connect in Moscow, you stand to lose 50% of your time there. That is why the region’s positioning, and finding a solution to make it more accessible, is a complex but important task. However, the president has declared the development of Siberia and the Far East one of our national priorities for the 21st century and I believe that soon enough we will have an answer ready for investors. The most decisive among them – those who will beat everyone else to the punch – definitely stand to win.
What happened to Kazan, a city that pursued systemic efforts to attract investors regardless of the big event? First of all, the city has undergone a facelift. Now it boasts a better quality of life and a new environment. These are exactly the kinds of things that show investors that they find themselves in a ‘climate’ they are accustomed to – not extreme conditions.
Secondly, along with Kazan becoming increasingly recognisable, the city’s residents have changed as well. Their sense of pride about what has been achieved, and the ambitious projects that are to follow in the footsteps of the Universiade, offer people a very powerful driver to avoid complacency and continue to transform the environment around them. In other words there has been improved quality, but more importantly there has been an emotional outcome. One does not need to be concerned over the development of this area any longer.
I am positive that it is a perfectly realistic ambition for us to reach a similar emotional outcome in Krasnoyarsk. Young people here are asking themselves the most serious of questions; they need to believe in their own abilities. For their career paths we need to move from the stepping-stone model to that of the finish line – the personal success that people are striving to achieve. We at least need to become a pit stop where someone can take a pause, and not just for a minute as in Formula 1, but for a while. The Universiade, with its numerous projects and new people, is precisely the tool to solve this problem.
It is good and it is right that in preparing for this sporting event we do not just represent Krasnoyarsk – we represent the whole of Russia. This gives us an entirely different motivation and energy, different incentives and views. It is great when you are facing the kinds of challenges that drive you to become more productive, or make you master a foreign language, for example. If the city is ready to up its status to ‘international’ and showcase high-quality human capital along with a modernised education system and communication capabilities, investors will be the first to sense it – long before the television broadcasts begin.
International co-operation is well under way. The Winter Universiade of 2017 will be held in Almaty, and we plan to work closely with Kazakhstan on both their Games and ours. Krasnoyarsk also plans to get young people from across the Eurasian Union on board, not only to meet but also to work together on joint projects.
Exciting collaborations are already under way with the city of Brasília, which will host the Summer Universiade in 2019. Our two cities are working to involve young people and students from the BRICS countries in the launch of many high-profile initiatives. We hope that in working for the common cause, those young people will not just have a chance to learn about a different culture and build abstract ‘bridges,’ but will be able to forge robust horizontal networks that will remain active ten or 20 years later, laying a foundation for efficient business co-operation, public projects and politics.
This is a long-term project. It is important that we manage to build trust between people. In time this trust will be transformed into investment. In the final analysis, with all other things being equal, you are more likely to invest your money in a place or a person you trust. It is for that reason that we put more stock in these humanitarian communications than in our PR efforts.
A city for pedestrians
Preliminary estimates are that Krasnoyarsk will be allocated 40 billion rubles for the preparation of the Universiade. Our pragmatic objective is to address the problems faced by the krai’s capital and to invest the funds that will be freed up into other parts of the region. We are not going to build one gigantic stadium – we want to change the city and its transport infrastructure. It should be noted that we have approached the implementation of the various projects with the greatest of care, deciding to harmonise them with existing facilities.
In terms of its requirements, the Universiade is not the most complex of sporting events. There is no need to create unnatural or narrowly specialised facilities that would later cost us a fortune to maintain. Relying on the best practices pioneered in Sochi, and state-of-the-art innovations, we will create two ice arenas and one ski stadium. The objective is to design a universal complex that will become a symbol of sport for the whole of Siberia, and which can operate 24/7, every day of the year. Administrative and business aspects aside, what is important is that sport becomes more diverse and popular among the public.
All of the current sports facilities have been designed following the principles of Universiade legacy, with the Biathlon Academy and the Winter Sports Academy about to complete the ‘last mile’ to reach full operational readiness. The alpine skiing complex is based on facilities built in 1982 for the Spartakiade, for the peoples of the USSR. Without any added strain on the budget, we will be able to renovate them and commission venues of an advanced standard.
The second objective we need to tackle in preparing the Universiade is to resolve our transport limitations. We need to build a modern international airport, and expand the legacy transportation system by adding a new ring road to help optimise traffic flow in the city. And we can also develop an alternative means of transport – the suburban electric train.
We will also modernise the Siberian Federal University. In particular, we will build a modern campus, including not only comfortable student accommodation but also an athletics hub. We also plan to bring our healthcare system and its basic facilities up to the appropriate level. This includes the regional clinical hospital and the emergency care hospital, and a new state-of-the-art polyclinic near the sports venues.
These efforts will transform the city’s environment and boost the development of new local communities, enabling them to reach their full potential. The university will become more attractive for professors and talented students, and the city as a whole will provide greater comfort for its residents, particularly as pedestrians.
The Universiade offers a great opportunity, but we need to seize it – and use it carefully and expertly. It will help us to accomplish faster and more efficiently what we would have had to do anyway: build, renovate and upgrade. In sports terminology, rather than a doping strategy, it is a timely vitamin injection.