SPORTS

AEK expects stadium approval

The curtain went down for good on AEK’s soccer ground, the Nikos Goumas Stadium in the Athens suburb of Nea Philadelphia, following a friendly match on Monday ahead of prospective demolition and reconstruction. Yesterday, a source told Kathimerini that demolition plans were due for official approval today. A building permit, however, has yet to be granted. Demolition and groundwork for the new stadium, the source added, could start this week. Preliminary work is expected to last some four months. A team of experts from J&P-Avax, the construction company awarded the project, visited the stadium yesterday to finalize construction details. AEK has already made financing arrangements through a syndicated loan from several banks worth 50 million euros, an amount which is expected to cover much of the project’s entire cost. But AEK will need to wait for the project’s building permit before these funds come its way. The State has only offered an oral promise for a permit so far. The loan will cover construction costs only. No provisions for future management rights of the complex by the banks involved have been made. At AEK, officials expect to see a building permit soon. The optimism is based on plans to make the new stadium available as an emergency backup venue for the Athens Olympics soccer final should any complications arise with the intended ground, Karaiskaki Stadium. The State has handed over that stadium’s control to Olympiakos soccer club on a 49-year lease deal in exchange for the Piraeus club’s complete refurbishment of the depleted stadium in time for the Athens Olympics. It has already been decided to include the new venue in the Olympics package as a practice ground. AEK officials hope the stadium will be ready by the end of May next year, less than three months ahead of the Olympics. Municipal authorities in the Nea Philadelphia area, however, are expressing less enthusiasm. In comments to Kathimerini yesterday, the district’s mayor, Nikos Adamopoulos, said he was not fully informed about the project’s plans. Two major factors, he said, studies for the project’s environmental and traffic impact in the district, had not yet been presented to him. He called for traffic relief infrastructure work. Legal action against AEK, the mayor noted, would be a last resort.