SPORTS

HOC threatens to back off Karaiskaki Stadium deal, asks for racetrack site

A decision reached just weeks ago to resolve a long-standing dispute regarding the use of Karaiskaki Stadium in the capital’s Neo Faliron district is still up in the air. The stadium’s owner, the state-sponsored Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) had agreed to transfer ownership to the State’s General Secretariat for Sport, but is now expressing reservations. HOC’s retreat from the deal was sparked by the State’s refusal to offer, in exchange, the nearby horseracing track as a prospective track and field facility. The overall plan for the future of Karaiskaki Stadium entails refurbishment of the derelict stadium by Olympiakos soccer club in time for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Soccer games, including the final, will be hosted there. In exchange for the restoration costs, estimated at 30 million euros, the State has committed itself to granting Olympiakos a long-term lease of between 30 to 49 years for the new-look, 40,000-capacity stadium. Before agreeing to part with its rights to Karaiskaki Stadium, HOC had declared it would only proceed if granted a balanced deal as compensation. HOC considers unacceptable what the State has offered, so far. It says the site of the horseracing track in Neo Faliron would be a fair deal. HOC envisages building a modern 7,000- to 8,000-capacity track and field stadium, two indoor multi-purpose gymnasiums, and, possibly a swimming pool and tennis courts on the site, which will be vacated in August 2003.