Businessman Ion Tiriac told a news conference on Friday that the National Bank of Romania (BNR) in 1991 “took over illegally” the sports compound called “Arenele BNR”, BNR Arenas, which until 2015 used to host the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy tennis tournament, now relocated to Budapest.
“Imagine a unique sporting event in Romania [the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy tennis tournament], that is broadcast in 110 countries and free in Romania that brings in about 25-30 million euros a year in advertising … and then having to relocate it because after 70 years there is no tennis arena to host it, because the existing one[the BNR Arenas] was stolen (…) Maybe not stolen, but still, the rightful owner should be the owner … the arenas could not be taken away because there was a law that a sports facility shall stay there and be available to all. When there was COR [Romania’s Olympic Committee], was the current COSR [Romania’s Sports and Olympic Committee] that is, in my time, I made a law that no sporting facility should change ownership, and that nothing shall be built on the premises of such facility other than sports-related works. In my opinion, the National Bank illegally took over the Arenele BNR Park in 1991. It had not belonged to the bank since the 1700s. And in 1990, Arenele would be under the authority of the Sports Ministry. [Nicolae] Ceausescu had the arenas made in seven days for the Davis Cup final. We said that we were doing the stands that were no longer good … They said no, because that it is their property [of the BNR] and that cannot be done. And to cap it all, they chained the facility off and I was not able to take a photo with Nastase at Arene. Every morality and relationship I have had with these people are gone. I do not know if it’s legal, but I’ll find out,” said Tiriac.
He mentioned that at one point the Romanian Government intended to exchange properties with BNR so that the BNR Arenas may return to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which in turn would have to renovate them.
Tiriac, the owner of the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy tournament, has handed over the competition to Budapest fort two years because the BNR Arenas no longer meet the requirements of ATP, since the Centre Court is closed. In 2016, at the last edition of the tournament in Bucharest, the Centre Court could not be used because it did not have a permit from the Emergency Inspectorate (ISU). The games were played only in the secondary court.
Tiriac and Ilie Nastase have repeatedly criticised the attitude of the management of the National Bank of Romania, the owner of the sports facility located in the Bucharest quarter of Cotroceni, accusing it of not wanting to hand over the land to the Bucharest City Hall, and also of not investing in the modernisation of the BNR Arenas so that an ISU permit may be obtained.