Colo-Colo put stadium expansion work on back burner



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Chile Estadio Monumental - Colo-Colo FC Image: Colo-Colo FC

Chilean football giants Colo-Colo was planning to float tenders for their home arena – Estadio Monumental David Arellano which has a current spectator capacity of 47,347 – in April. But, looking at the coronavirus scene, the club has decided to put on the backburner the projected works and is now offering the ground to the authorities to tackle the situation arising out of COVID-19.

Colo-Colo is a Chilean football club based in Macul, Santiago. They play in the Chilean Primera División, from which they have never got relegated till date. The team has played its home games at Estadio Monumental David Arellano since 1989.

Due to social unrest in Chile, the planned expansion of Estadio Monumental David Arellano has already fallen behind schedule. The first expansion of the venue was expected in 2019-end. After that, it was expected that the expansion work will begin in April. Now, that has also been shelved for the moment.

On October 25 last year, over a million people took to the streets throughout Chile to protest against President Sebastián Piñera, demanding his resignation. It all started with rise in public transport fares and mushroomed into wider discontent killing at least 27 people. The protests spilled over till March 2020 and were then halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Colo-Colo President Aníbal Mosa has declared that his club is ready to make the stadium available for public use by the local authorities, should any such situation arise. Mosa has also offered a hotel his family owns in Puerto Montt.

The Executive Vice-President of Colo-Colo, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, then confirmed that the tender would be put on hold indefinitely. Till date, Chile has recorded 4,471 coronavirus cases and the death toll stands at 34. In the coming weeks, the infections are expected to soar in Chile and the situation is not likely to get any better before May or June. As Mayne-Nicholls puts in, “the tender would not be on the agenda until the club and country are stable financially again.”

As per Colo-Colo’s plan, Estadio Monumental’s capacity is expected to grow from 47,000 to 60,000, thus making it the largest stadium across Chile. The expansion project is likely to cost $50 million. Colo-Colo does not have the financial wherewithal to carry out the expansion project on its own, and would have anyway required a private partner.
 

Rewind

Estadio Monumental David Arellano was projected to be one of South America’s most spectacular stadiums way back in 1956. It was to hold 120,000 people. Over 60,000 would be found in the sunken lower tier, all below ground level. The remaining 50,000-plus in the concrete upper deck. It was by far the most ambitious project in Chile, let alone a private one.

In 1956, Colo-Colo acquired 28 hectares of land in south-eastern Santiago (in Chile) and began excavation works for the lower tier. It was touted the stadium would be the most magnificent new stadium built for the 1962 World Cup.

Almost 75 per cent of work was through, but, as ill luck would have it, the great earthquake of Valdivia took place. Santiago wasn’t most affected, but the World Cup was confined to only existing stadiums, while work on the ambitious stadium was halted indefinitely due to lack of public support.

It took Colo-Colo 15 long years to make the stadium up and running and the opening game was held in 1975. However, only a total of six fixtures were held here before the structure was found not to be up to the mark and Colo-Colo was forced to leave it again.

Finally, the stadium opened its doors in 1989 and has been the residence of Colo-Colo since then. The stadium becoming operable was made possible thanks to the financial boost which the club got after it sold two prominent players, one every time. The money served as construction budget and a final escape from Estadio Nacional (Colo-Colo played here from 1939 to the late 90s) to a private home.

To date, the 1950s vision of Chile’s greatest stadium was never implemented in toto. But, boasting a capacity of over 47,000, their present arena still stands tall in Chile and is inferior in terms of size only to the legendary Nacional stadium in Chile. The facility has staged various international events, including the Chilean national team games or annual concerts. It also became the only privately-owned stadium of Copa America in 2015.

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