‘Mixed-use facilities need of the hour’


Colombia Medellin Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex Image: Colombia Medellin Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex & Agencia APP

Medellín (Colombia)-based the PPP agency is a decentralized entity of the Mayor’s Office of Medellín and its mission is to manage sustainable projects that are characterized by the private sector participation for the development of social and productive infrastructure that contributes to the development of the public sector.

The 44,739-capacity Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex is a sports complex located in Medellín, Colombia. The complex includes Estadio Atanasio Girardot, Medellín Sports Coliseum, Luis Alberto Villegas Stadium and Alfonso Galvis Duque Stadium.

In an exclusive to ‘Coliseum’, Juan Manuel Mejía Salazar, Deputy Director, PPP, Agencia APP Medellín, Colombia, shared how the agency will be involved in the modernization of the Atanasio Girardot sports unit in Colombia. They will provide complementary services with better technology and greater efficiency. Salazar also revealed how PPP will also be involved in the design-build-finance-operate-maintain of the sports unit and will also establish commercial strategies to finance improvements for the main sports complex in the region.

He said that the two projects which PPP has under its wings in Colombia hold great significance and they want to treat these two projects as a template and replicate across the region.

Salazar stated, “The two projects – one is in the public sector and one is in the private sector. The first is the modernization of the Atanasio Girardot sports unit in Colombia that goes back to 1953. It holds great historical value for the people of Colombia. One of these stadia sits in the heart of the City. They are no longer a sports venue per se but have become an epicenter for forging strong cultural and familial ties. They will be totally transformed and what we are delighted about is it will bring a sea change in the lives of the people of the community in which these structures will sit.”

He affirmed that the APP is a robust financing model and believes in “generating value”.

The greater idea behind the projects, he said, is to generate revenue and they will have to serve twin purposes – “Keep the financial wheels well-oiled and go on to benefit the local people in the long term as well as the people who are connected with these developments.”

He added, “We want to increase the capacity of Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex from 46,000 to 55,000 so that we can get closer to the FIFA requirements – at least 91 percent. We plan to make it a mixed-use venue which will house offices, tennis courts, athletics tracks, and other leagues and added attractions like restaurants. The complex will have to hold social significance for the community on which it sits otherwise a sports venue does not carry any value.”

He stated that the plan is to finish upgrading the venue by November 2021 so that investors can take this building on lease for up to 30 years and to enable the same, the upgradation work will have to be over by next year.

Salazar informed, “Right now, we are in Stage II of construction which is the engineering stage. We need to increase the capacity of the stadium and provide more parking spaces. The main objective is to ensure that the stadium is in rhythm with its surroundings and for this to materialize, we plan to involve the community in a big way.”

Plans are also in the offing to build a second basement space so that it helps generate more revenue. Sky boxes will be set up and the facility will be so rehabilitated that “one day we can go on to host a South American Cup and the World Cup. Sustainability will be given the highest priority so that the venue goes on to earn a Gold or Platinum LEED certification.”

Salazar averred that the most important aspect was that the people will visit the venue and discover that there is more to it than just sports. He said that pouring in money holds no sense these days if venues do not offer mixed-use facilities – “It is not just the game per se but we want to transform it to a pre-game experience for fans so that they can spend quality time with their friends and family in the arena before the match starts.”

There will also be a track and field space that will boast underground parking lots which will help to create more seats for spectators.

Salazar stated that they are employing digital technology and “We want private investors to be part of a business model like this one. We are planning to give investors naming rights, parking lots, events, of course, museums. The main objective is to create an arena which will provide huge entertainment to people – something which is sadly lacking in Colombia. Right now, the plan is not to host a Monster Truck event or a Grand Slam tennis championship.”

A mixed-use venue will also help boost tourism. He stated that the idea is to have a sports stadium which is going to generate revenue as well as serve as a multipurpose venue which will help in bringing social growth and can be used by other minor leagues of different sports.

He also informed that both the projects will take around six to eight months time to get wrapped up “before they can be offered to the bidders who would want to rent these buildings and it will help generate revenue”.

Salazar wrapped up by stating that the need of the hour in Colombia is to create a conducive “international investment climate and the stadia should offer a greater sense of safety and security to fans, especially keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation which is throwing up a huge challenge and stadia will also have to help generate employment opportunities.”

He stated that the APP would welcome with open arms entrepreneurs and businessmen who shares the same vision as them and they are also open to the idea of accepting any concrete proposal.

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