New stadium on schedule

The Panathinaikos club’s long-running campaign for a new sports stadium to house its soccer, basketball and volleyball divisions appeared to take a significant step forward yesterday when a meeting between the club’s soccer boss and the town-planning minister produced a pledge from the latter that an amendment paving the way for the project would be submitted to Parliament within the current month. Following official talks with Panathinaikos’s Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias told reporters that an amendment would be tabled to Parliament this month, while adding that ratification was scheduled for July 6 following two days of parliamentary discussion. «The amendment will be submitted within [the month of] June. Discussion for land register issues begins on July 4 and will be voted in Parliament on July 6,» Souflias told reporters following the meeting. «So we’re on schedule with what we’ve said and there won’t be any problems.» The project is being designated for the downtown district of Votanikos, located just over a kilometer from Omonia Square. In recent seasons, Panathinaikos’s soccer and basketball divisions have used the existing Athens Olympic Stadium facilities as a home base, while the club’s volleyball team has hosted games in Glyfada, southern Athens. Panathinaikos had originally expressed interest in developing parkland in the Goudi region, within the vicinity of central Athens, for its new sports complex, but the prospect of that stumbled following uncompromising resistance over residential and environmental concerns. Souflias said that following July’s amendment, the club would still need to secure building permits for the project. Jurisdiction for this, he noted, lies with Athens City Hall. Vardinoyiannis said he hoped the project would be ready on time for the club’s centennial anniversary, in 2008.

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