San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

China’s Stadium Gift to Costa Rica in Final Stage

The $80 million stadium in San José’s La Sabana Park, a gift from the government of China, is nearing completion. The behemoth’s seats have been installed, the scoreboards mounted and the playing field lain with grass.

During President Laura Chinchilla’s first official tour of the stadium on Thursday, the Chinese ambassador told her the stadium would be ready for final inspection in November.

“We are in the final phase of construction of the national stadium,” he said. “After a few months of trials, we expect the inauguration to take place at the end of March.”

He anticipates a “great party” in celebration of a stadium that he said is a symbol of the friendship between the two countries. The 35,000-seat stadium was pledged to Costa Rica after the Central American country established relations with China, severing ties with longtime friend Taiwan, in 2007.

Chinchilla said she will look to guarantee that Costa Ricans “have true pride in the stadium” and that it will pave the way for a greater participation in sports.

“We want a stadium that is alive; that is always filled with people,” she said.

When asked about a name, she said it is still open for conversation, but that “there are many athletes who have made important imprints in our history.”

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