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Sports National

Alanya 15,000-seat, closed-roof stadium to open next year
Youth and Sports Directorate Chairman Mehmet Atalay (R) tours the new stadium in Alanya.
A closed-roof stadium designed according to UEFA criteria is being built in Alanya, a district in Antalya, in order to boost the town's desolate winter tourism season.

The stadium, a project that had been in planning stages for quite a while, will have a seating capacity of 15,000 and regional leaders hope that it will attract internationally acclaimed teams to the Mediterranean town, whose businesses are functioning at 80 percent capacity during the summer season but are virtually abandoned in the winter months. Consequently, for those in the tourism sector, the stadium is heaven-sent.

Following the wave of summer resorts and golf resorts, soccer resorts are being increasingly sought. Up until 10 years ago only 70 teams preferred Antalya for their training camps. Now, clubs from all over the world are showing heightened interest in the city.

Upon finding out that the foreign currency profit gained through the hotels where foreign teams stayed totaled approximately $40 million annually, local authorities decided to press ahead with the UEFA-standard stadium project. It is expected that the construction of the stadium, currently 70 percent complete, will revive the normally dull winter season in the city.

The stadium is being built on 100 acres of land: 60 acres will be used for the stadium itself; the remaining 40 acres will be allotted for camp and educational purposes. The bleachers will be completely closed off in the stadium, which has a special section allotted for the handicapped, along with indoor and outdoor parking facilities for 1,000 people, ticket sale booths, shops, stores available for rent, multi-purpose halls and gyms that are open to the public. There will be separate entrances for the media, VIPs and fans. It is expected that the stadium will be running at full capacity by 2008 at the latest.

Ahmet Barut, chairman of the Turkish Hotel Operators Federation (TÜROFED), said that large soccer pitches that are built in cities are very beneficial for the tourism of a city and noted that their aim is to bring in 25 percent of the some 5,000 teams that have their training camps in the Antalya region each year.

Recalling that the monetary contribution of soccer teams to the regional economy is $50 million, Barut said, "In previous years, hotels were on the brink of shutting down during the winter season. Soccer clubs though, have helped the tourism sector to remain functioning all year round."

Tuncer Müftüoğlu, member of the Galatasaray Sports Club Congress, said that the new stadium will make big teams camp in Alanya, adding he will do whatever he can in order to get Galatasaray to camp in Alanya. "Once the stadium is completed, not only Galatasaray, but teams from all over the world will rush to Alanya," Müftüoğlu stated.

Erdal Tamrak, chairman of the Municipal Youth and Sports Directorate said that the new stadium will fill a great void in the city. "We didn't have the proper facilities to host big teams. In 2005 Urawa chose Antalya as its camp-site and in 2006 teams from all over the world -- Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Macedonia, Romania, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, South Korea, China, Azerbaijan and Japan chose Antalya as the location of their training camp. I hope Alanya receives its portion of the pie from such profits," Tamrak added.

Cleopatra Hotel Operating Union boss Mustafa Kahya noted that even the facilities that will be servicing the stadium will experience a boost in business. "Many of the clubs that formerly chose Germany, Austria, Greece, Holland and Spain -- particularly the town of Marbella -- as their camp venue, switched to Antalya upon discovering the city," said the chairman, who added that Alanya would soon become a Mecca for clubs, just like Antalya.

Müfit Kaptanoğlu, chairman of Alanya Tourist Commerce Association (ALTİD) said the stadium will also reduce the amount of businesses that are forced to close down temporarily during winter months, and adds that he believes the number of hotels open to business all year round will increase in the process. Kaptanoğlu said that building a facility to accommodate players in hotels is definitely a consideration of theirs if they are granted the land to do so.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Municipal Chairman Kemal Kaçmaz said that the stadium will have a multi-dimensional allure by the time it is set to open next year.


12 April 2007, Thursday

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