In 2008 was promoted the idea that the Ancient Stadium should not only be preserved and popularised, but also turned into a stimulus for urban renewal and vitality. The Regional Administration of Plovdiv united partners such as the Municipality of Plovdiv, the Association for Cultural Tourism and the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage around this idea and nominated a project according to the fourth priority area “Preservation of Cultural Heritage” in front of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (FM-EEA). Its concept is based on a Preliminary project for revalorisation of the Ancient Stadium, created by a team at the Association for Cultural Tourism, led by Professor Todor Krestev, DSc.
In 2009 the project was selected with the highest praise among all the projects presented by Bulgarian public authorities and it received the full amount of the requested finance – 896 825 euro, from which 83.51% – non-recourse finance from the FM-EEA, 15% – national financing and 1.49% – financing from the beneficiary and the partners.
The aim of the project is to accent on the role of the Ancient Stadium as a resource for sustainable development and to improve the quality of the urban environment in the historic centre of Plovdiv.
Four groups of related activities are provided and realised:
- Archaeological research, studies, elaboration of an executive project for the Ancient Stadium
- Construction and conservation works, related to the Ancient stadium and its opening to the public
- Informational and educational activities such as: development of an informational and multimedia system which reveals the hidden part of the Ancient Stadium for the public; its transformation into an attractive tourist product with an internet page, a corporate identity and promotional products, etc.; implementation of an exchange of successful practices with the Norwegian partners; organisation of an ad hoc educational Bulgarian-Norwegian Centre for urban archaeology; social awareness, etc.
- Management and publicity of the project
An effective organisation with a management and coordination unit (executive manager Emiliya Petrova-Angelova), with the participation of representatives of the Regional Administration of Plovdiv and all the partners was created for the realisation of the project. The project could not have been realised without the active participation of the regional governors – Mr. Todor Petkov, Mr. Ivan Totev and Mr. Zdravko Dimitrov.
The initial development deadline of the project was April 2011 but afterwards due to unexpected results from the archaeological excavations in 2010, the deadline was extended until April 2012.
It is remarkable that a project of such complexity could be realised within a relatively short period. In order to meet the changing demands of the town and unravel its cultural and historical potential, the project should be seen as completely open to further development.