Votanikos plan fuels locals’ ire

Residents of the central Athens district of Votanikos yesterday protested plans by a local soccer club to build a large sports complex in the area, charging that municipal authorities were paying through the nose for the project and that taxpayers were being ripped off. The purchase of the site on which the new Panathinaikos 40,000-seat soccer stadium is to be built is costing City Hall 13 million euros more than the original price set by state inspectors, residents claimed. Authorities are contributing another 27 million toward the construction of the complex on the site and will be forking out 2 million euros per year to maintain it, residents charged. Locals also object to authorities spending an additional 21 million euros to buy the old site of Panathinaikos’s stadium on Alexandras Avenue. The City of Athens has pledged to build a park on the old site. Residents objected to all planned construction on the Votanikos site, which is also to accommodate the capital’s first mosque, and called instead for a park and a small industry complex to be built there.