San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

One year on, national stadium is 70 percent complete

Exactly 365 days since the first brick was laid for the National Stadium in La Sabana, project engineers and members of Costa Rican Sports and Recreation Institute (ICODER) announced Friday that the stadium is now 70 percent complete. The stadium, which will be the largest ever erected in Central America, is expected to be completed by February 2011.

“We are very proud to have accomplished this much in a year,” said Osvaldo Pandolfo, Vice Minister of Health and Sports. “As you can see, the base and the foundation of the stadium are already in place. The remaining thirty percent (of work) will be focused on completing the field, the installation of electricity and the smaller details, such as putting ceramic in the bathrooms…At this time, we anticipate the stadium to be entirely completed by February.”

Since receiving the green light from the government of Costa Rica to build the estimated $80 million stadium, which was a gift from the government of China, Chinese laborers clad in fuchsia jumpsuits and red hardhats have worked around the clock to construct the shell of the mammoth stadium. Where there was vacant land one year ago, the stadium´s towering columns now cast a shadow over La Sabana park and the surrounding neighborhood.

On Friday, four students from the Colegio Técnico Don Bosco unveiled a model of the finished stadium they created for an architecture design project. Enclosed in a clear dome, the model of the stadium provides a glimpse of what the completed project will look like next February. The oval-shaped stadium will feature two arching overhead columns that span the length of the stadium, tiered blue, red and white seats, an enormous television screen at the north end of the field and a plush natural grass playing field surrounded by a running track at the heart of it all.

“We had a blueprint for the design and a lot of guidance on how to construct the model from the engineers who were working here,” said Elizabeth Vargas Zúñiga, one of the students that worked on the model. “It was tedious and took a very long time, but we are pleased with the result. We think we have created a good vision of what the stadium will look like when completed.”

According to ICODER, an event may be held at the stadium in May prior to the conclusion of President Oscar Arias´s term in office. Soon after establishing diplomatic relations with China in 2007, Arias visited the Eastern giant and was received by the Chinese President, Hu Jintao. During the visit, the Chinese government announced their intention to “gift” the National Stadium to Costa Rica.

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