San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Stadium Plans Take Shape

A team of Chinese architects and engineers has drafted plans for a new $72 million National Stadium in La Sabana Park, on the western edge of San José, a gift from the Chinese government.

But the plans are falling short of what President Oscar Arias’ administration had anticipated.

For example, the stadium has been designed to accommodate just 35,000 people, 10,000 fewer than the Arias administration had hoped.

Construction is set to begin in July and end in May 2010, five months later than Arias had wanted.

The workforce will be almost entirely Chinese, contrary to Arias’ statement in November that it would be largely Costa Rican. Plans call for Chinese workers to camp out in provisional shelters near the site and work 24 hours a day in shifts.

Also contrary to what sports officials had hoped for earlier, the stadium will not include offices for the Costa Rican Sports and Recreation Institute (ICODER) or for the country’s 36 sports federations.

“Costa Rica wanted one thing, but we had to compromise according to the budget and China’s own proposals,” said Juan Carlos Bonilla, a spokesman for ICODER.

The 11-member Chinese team will leave Costa Rica tomorrow after spending a month here surveying the site and meeting with Costa Rican officials and the Chinese Ambassador Wang Xiaoyuan.


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