It might not be as beautiful as this nickname suggests, but Iraq needs positive impulses like this new stadium in Karbala to improve its international image (and morale domestically).
Yesterday the Iraqi city of Karbala celebrated official opening of their new international stadium. Meeting crucial requirements of FIFA, the stadium instantly saw appeal to reinstate Iraq as equal member of FIFA. Currently the country is banned from hosting international matches for safety reasons, which was addressed by spectators spreading a large flags with “Football is our life, let us live!” appeal to FIFA.
The stadium seems to have raised immense enthusiasm, much needed in a location less than 50km (30 miles) away from the site of recent football-related suicide bombing. Regardless of the risk, it was packed to capacity yesterday as players of Karbala FC took on the national team.
The joy is even greater as the stadium’s construction had been put on hold for quite a while. The project was launched back when Iraq’s situation was more stable. First seats were installed back in 2013, even before all of the stands were finished. Yet it wasn’t until recent weeks that the building was completed.
This brand new stadium for Karbala was planned within the Karbala Sports City complex, along future southern ring-road of the city. Initial project documentation was created by Bahadir Kul and envisioned an athletic stadium.
Final outcome is barely similar to that concept, because over time the running track was scrapped and only left at the secondary training stadium. Also, due to financial and time restrictions the planned decorative façade was limited to a much simpler form. The roof still rises to roughly 35 meters and retained important elements of the first vision: two translucent sections of the outer cladding on both ends of the stadium.
The change from athletic to football-specific mode proved beneficial for football fans, who now enjoy very good viewing experience. There are 30,000 red seats at their disposal, to be used primarily by fans during Karbala FC games.
So far Karbala Sports City, which is the name of the entire complex, comprises of the main and secondary stadiums (latter one with running track) and smaller sports facilities. So far it consumed IQD 116 billion (or $105m) and will see the addition of major indoor hall in the future.