Rally for delayed AEK stadium overheats and brings in the riot police

A demonstration by some 500 AEK fans yesterday outside the Nea Philadelphia Town Hall in northern Athens, in reaction to the municipality’s reluctance to approve plans for a new soccer stadium, eventually overheated and prompted riot police to intervene. No injuries were reported but some damage occurred. Riot police used tear gas to disperse crowds after a smaller group of about 20 individuals, reports said, all hooded and masked, emerged from the larger group of protesters and caused havoc in the neighborhood for well over an hour by throwing stones at the municipality building, breaking some of its windows and setting fire to garbage bins. Some arrests were reported. AEK’s plans for a new stadium in place of its old Nikos Goumas Stadium have been bogged down by the local Nea Philadelphia Municipality’s reluctance to issue a building permit. Mayor Nikos Adamopoulos has expressed concern over the prospective project’s environmental and commercial impact on the area. The stadium, whose ambitious plans include a shopping complex and conference center, would need to sacrifice part of an adjacent park. Adamopoulos has also expressed concern over the increased traffic that would be generated by the complex, the lack of existing road infrastructure, as well as the effect on existing local businesses.