China Govt body helm Guangzhou venue project


Chinese government takes control of Guangzhou stadium Image: Thomas Suen (Reuters)

Financial troubles affecting real estate giant the Evergrande Group (China) have seen a Chinese Government body assume control of the under-construction Guangzhou Evergrande Football Stadium project – touted as the largest football stadium in the world.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ stated that the site of the half-finished 100,000 seat venue has been reclaimed by the local Government and will be auctioned off.

Evergrande, which was once China’s top-selling property developer, has been struggling to meet repayments on over US$300 billion in debt.

The Guangzhou Evergrande Football Stadium is a football stadium under construction in Guangzhou, China, as the future home venue of the Chinese professional club Guangzhou F.C. The construction of the 12 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) stadium began on April 16th, 2020. The design of the lotus-shaped stadium was that of Shanghai-based American architect Hasan Syed. The stadium has a seating capacity for 100,000 people and a planned opening set in December 2022.

The Guangzhou Football Club, formerly known as Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club, is a professional Chinese football club that participates in the Chinese Super League under the license of the Chinese Football Association.

‘The Australasian Leisure Management’ further stated that the Guangzhou Stadium, valued at US$1.9 billion, was one of the group’s flagship projects, with the lotus leaf-shaped venue making headlines for its eye-catching design and scale when it was announced in April last year.

When ground was broken on the stadium in 2020, Evergrande Vice-Chairman Xia Haijun said it would “become a new world-class landmark comparable to the Sydney Opera House (Australia) and Burj Khalifa in Dubai (UAE), and an important symbol of Chinese football to the world”.

At the time, Evergrande also said it was planning another three to five, 80,000 to 100,000-seat stadiums in the country.

Now authorities have taken over the project with a view to selling it or acquiring it via the State-owned Guangzhou City Construction Investment Group.

Amid reports that work on the venue had halted earlier this year, in September, Evergrande said work on the stadium was proceeding “as normal”.

Owning more than 1,300 projects in more than 280 Cities across China, Evergrande was once China’s top-selling property developer but is now struggling to repay creditors and suppliers.

It pulled back from the brink of default in October this year, leaving investors concerned as to whether it can meet obligations to pay an overdue coupon worth US$82.5 million.

It has also been suggested the debt-laden group could sell Guangzhou F.C., which has won the Chinese Super League eight times since being acquired by Evergrande in 2010.

Guangzhou F.C. coach Fabio Cannavaro, Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning captain, departed the club in September 2021 as the club’s owners’ problems became apparent.

Since August, an Evergrande-owned football school has laid off over 100 staff due to liquidity constraints, said a person close to the school and a person with direct knowledge of the layoff situation. Both declined to be identified due to sensitivity of the matter.

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