COVID-19 put brakes on Mexico stadium


Mexico Leon stadium Image: HKS

Though the COVID-19 scene is not a worst-case scenario in Mexico, nevertheless, everything is very dicey. The currency has plummeted, thus causing concern over new projects. Against such a backdrop, the Mexican professional football club based in the city of León in Mexico – Club León – have confirmed their new stadium work would not proceed forward until the coronavirus situation stabilizes again.

Initially, it was hoped that the new stadium in León would see groundbreaking in September 2019, but that did not come to fruition. Then, the expected launch date was set for March or April 2020, but, media reports stated that the venue construction work has put on hold looking at the horrible situation which the respiratory disease has caused worldwide.

Not only is COVID-19 infection scale in Mexico still unfolding, the local economy has already taken a hard hit. The peso has collapsed in mid- to late March. By comparison, in early March one needed 19 pesos to buy a US dollar, now it’s over 25.

So much of devaluation means any imports from its northern neighbor US would be an expensive affair – costing 30 percent more. Even if the investor tries to focus on Mexican materials and technology, it’s impossible to avoid imports from the northern neighbor. Thus, the MXN 2-billion price tag of the planned venue stands uncertain.

Jesús Martínez Murguía, President of Club León, told mediapersons that the stadium project will have to wait till the coronavirus storm stops or the situation becomes a little better. He further said that the current season is – like in most countries – on hold and club finances have been affected.

The new facility in León has been designed keeping 35,000 people in mind and varied secondary uses, including a hotel. Once construction begins, the project should take over two years to deliver. As of now, the documentation and land agreement are in place.

Stadium specifics

The new football stadium in León is set to come up along Boulevard Francisco Villa, in north-eastern part of the Mexican city. Six major players took part in the design competition, with teams representing the crème de la crème of Mexican, American and Spanish stadium designers. US-headquartered international design firm HKS Architects clinched the deal thus scripting the biggest success story for the company’s Mexico branch.

The designed stadium – which offers 35,000 seats in total, is in line with Mexican custom. It enjoys 300 private boxes, as well as major lounges and other corporate hospitality options. The auditorium thus has only one regular tier of seating encompassing the field. Above it various facilities are planned, topped by ‘laola’ sections of regular seats on three sides.

A major pavilion is being planned in the north with hotel rooms overlooking the field. A spacious and partly translucent canopy hangs above three sides of the stadium, buttressed by four primary and 13 secondary pylons. It’s designed to collect rainwater for internal use, one among the many features of the design giving top priority to the sustainability factor.

In aesthetic terms, the stadium is rather conventional, however, it complements the city’s longstanding leather tanning industry. Thin strips of brown-colored metal will embellish the stadium, resembling pieces of leather left to dry.

To make the arena a destination venue not only during the weekend, but also during the whole week, the stadium will be joined by its hotel. To enrich the fan experience, a major shopping center is being planned along the west side, along with Club León’s museum and Hall of Fame, football university and other leisure spaces, accompanied by 3,500 parking spots (east of the stadium). In total, the complex is expected to cover over 124,000 m2.

Coronavirus count

There are 8,261 coronavirus cases in Mexico till date and 686 people have lost their lives so far.

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