SPORTS

AEK plans for a grand stadium by 2015

AEK Athens presented on Wednesday its grand plans for a new stadium at the site of its old one at Nea Filadelfia, north of Athens city center, hoping to complete the project within two years.

Named “Ayiasofia,” after the religious and historic monument of Constantinople – today’s Istanbul – i.e. the city where AEK traces its roots at, the new ground will cost 65 million euros, with 20 million euros of that to come from funding by the Attica Regional Authority using European Union subsidies.

The capacity of the new ground will be between 32,000 and 34,000, along with 1,500 parking slots. The project will create up to 2,000 jobs and employ 200 to 400 people after its completion. The stadium’s construction will bring to state coffers some 21 million euros from various taxes, AEK officials stated, plus 2.5 million euros in contributions to social security funds.

In a moving atmosphere, new AEK owner Dimitris Melissanidis, whose family has a stake in the consortium that secured the management of gaming company OPAP, said “much as our opponents are finding it hard to understand, AEK is more than a team and deserves something more special than a modern soccer ground.”

Notably, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople announced it will contribute 50,000 euros for the construction of the new ground, in a symbolic move.