Campaign picks up

AEK soccer club, whose plans for a new stadium in the capital’s north have stagnated as a result of firm resistance from municipal authorities over environmental and commercial concerns, is planning to step up its campaign on several fronts, team officials said yesterday. Responding to Nea Philadelphia Municipality’s rejection earlier this week, with a 12-6 vote against the prospective project intended to replace AEK’s recently demolished Nikos Goumas Stadium, club officials announced they would organize a rally for December 14 at the site. In his first of a series of meetings over coming days, Yiannis Granitsas, the club’s chief, met with President Costis Stephanopoulos yesterday to raise his concern over the project’s blockage and request his support. Following the meeting, some insiders reported that Stephanopoulos could consider resolving the matter with a presidential decree. Next week, Granitsas intends to meet with more politicians as well as leading sports authorities. He also plans to raise the issue at a function next week, to be held by the Athens Chamber of Industry and Commerce, where he is vice president. The prospective stadium, whose ambitious plans include a shopping complex and conference center, Mayor Nikos Adamopoulos has consistently argued, will generate increased local traffic that exceeds the capacity of existing road infrastructure, threaten local businesses, and sacrifice part of an adjacent park. Besides the intended administrative-level action, AEK fans have announced they will stage their own rally outside the Greek Parliament on December 21. Responding to questions on another prospective stadium project, one being fostered by the Panathinaikos club, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters yesterday that the matter would soon be resolved. Venizelos said the government was examining the Athens club’s proposal.

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