A new AEK stadium soon

The refurbishment of AEK’s stadium has been touted since at least August 2000, when the soccer club unveiled plans for an improved stadium and a modern indoor arena. It finally seems that works will begin in the next few days. AEK officials have always backed the plans. It now seems that Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou is also determined to give the go-ahead for the demolition of the existing stadium and to overrule any objections by the Nea Philadelphia municipality, whose council convenes today to examine the issue. Newly elected Nea Philadelphia Mayor Nikos Adamopoulos had campaigned last fall against the rebuilding of the stadium, addressing citizens’ concerns that it would encroach on the municipality’s large public park and objections by merchants who did not want any commercial activity included in the new project. Gradually, objections to the project concentrated on its commercial use and the locals’ claims that it would worsen already heavy traffic conditions in the area. «We will provide a final answer (today). We will discuss all alternatives. We want the new stadium. There are objections to commercial uses which, in our opinion, will burden local citizens, and we demand transport works to make the whole project more viable,» Adamopoulos said yesterday. Last Thursday, Yiannis Frantzeskakis, emeritus professor of transport, presented a traffic works plan that has probably swayed the local council in favor of the project. But, in any case, Papandreou has the power to overrule the municipality’s objections since the AEK stadium will host soccer matches during the 2004 Olympics. «(The ministry) can ignore us, if they wish. The law allows them to overrule any objections. However, I don’t think our opinions will differ,» said Mayor Adamopoulos.