SPORTS

New Panathinaikos stadium set to be completed by 2008

Panathinaikos’s new stadium to house the club’s soccer, basketball, and volleyball divisions will be completed within 2008, in time for the historic Greek club’s centennial year, the soccer division’s boss, Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, said yesterday. His comments came following a meeting with Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis for talks over details ahead of a related law amendment that is expected to be submitted to Parliament for discussion and ratification either early today or Monday. «We’re set. Everything is on schedule. It’s merely a matter of time now. I believe that construction work for the Votanikos [central Athens] stadium will begin early in 2007 and that we’ll celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary at our new ground in 2008,» said Vardinoyiannis. The site for the prospective sporting complex lies in the downtown district of Votanikos, located just over a kilometer from Omonia Square. Panathinaikos had originally expressed interest in developing parkland in the Goudi region, within the vicinity of central Athens, for its complex, but the idea stumbled after uncompromising resistance over residential and environmental concerns. Behrakis said the project promised to help upgrade a region just off the city center. «The important thing is that a region just five minutes away from central Athens will be upgraded,» Behrakis said. Government and municipal officials have pledged that Panathinaikos’s traditional home base, the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, commonly referred to as Leoforos Alexandras after the avenue it lies on, will be transformed into a municipal park. It lies in the Ambelopiki district, one of the capital’s most congested areas. Panathinaikos recently abandoned its traditional base to host matches at the Olympic Stadium.