Demolition work began yesterday morning in the central district of Votanikos to clear the way for a new sports complex, which Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis said would help regenerate one of the capital’s most rundown areas. «You can see the terrible state of this area, just one kilometer from Omonia Square,» Kaklamanis said as he watched the bulldozers move in. «It will become a different area when the regeneration work is completed.» Panathinaikos intends to build a large sports complex on the site, which will include a 40,000-seat soccer stadium. The project is slated to cost some 127 million euros and the club hopes to have the complex ready by the end of 2008. «Today is the first step toward achieving the dream of double regeneration,» said the mayor. «One part of the regeneration plan relates to the sports facilities, the other is connected with changes at the current site of Panathinaikos’s historic stadium.» The Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium on Alexandras Avenue in the crowded neighborhood of Ambelokipi will be knocked down and turned into a park as part of the regeneration program. Meanwhile, residents living close to one of Athens’s biggest parks – the Pedion tou Areos – claimed that authorities were not taking care of the 30-hectare site close to central Athens. Members of an organization campaigning for the protection of the park said that only 10 people were employed to maintain the site. This has led to benches being destroyed, parts of the park not being lit at night, litter not being collected and the park not being properly guarded. Athens Prefecture general secretary Fotis Apostolopoulos told Kathimerini that there were plans to regenerate the park over the next two years and hire an additional 80 employees.