Stadium plans revived

Now that the election battle is over, the administration at the Panathinaikos soccer club will push to revive plans for construction of a new stadium. The plan, an ongoing one that has been firmly resisted by environmental groups, remains a pending issue for the team, which, under the outgoing government, never went beyond the transaction table. During their election campaigns, both the newly elected conservatives, New Democracy, and the outgoing PASOK party, said that Panathinaikos, one of the country’s two biggest clubs, needed a stadium urgently. Panathinaikos, currently based at its traditional home ground, the 15,000-capacity Leoforos Alexandras Stadium, wants to move out to a bigger, more modern arena. The club’s traditional base is located in a dense downtown neighborhood with little or no capacity for expansion. Seeking a new home ground, Panathinaikos, one of the country’s two biggest clubs, recently revived an older proposal for permission to construct a stadium at the military-owned Goudi Park. The idea was originally dropped after local residents, preferring a park, reacted strongly. Just months ahead of last weekend’s national elections, the plan was tabled again. A team of urban environmental specialists reacted quickly by saying that the stadium’s development at Goudi would destroy any plans for a metropolitan park at the location. The club’s president, Argyris Mitsou, yesterday described his team’s quest for a new stadium as «a priority.» Without a doubt, club officials will eagerly await today’s announcement by the new government of its choice as chief at the Planning and Public Works Ministry (YPEHODE). Under the rule of the outgoing party, rival club Olympiakos, which had also pressed for a new stadium in recent years, reached a deal to construct a new Karaiskaki Stadium on time for the Olympics in exchange for a long-term lease. Sports fans in Greece will hope that the country’s new government will rid the sporting sector of corruption, and the heavy influence exercised by politicians on a major social phenomenon involving millions of Greeks, particularly youngsters. During its lengthy domination of Greek politics since 1981, the PASOK party acquired tremendous power and influence by meddling with sporting federation affairs. During its long reign, the party managed to appoint its own people to key sporting posts, and made a common practice of influencing the decisions of committees to serve its own political interests.

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