Tonight for the first time the final of Copa Sudamericana will be held at a neutral venue. And quite a venue it is! To mark the occasion, we release our interview with its creator, Alfredo Angulo Quevedo.
Independiente del Valle from Ecuador and Colón from Argentina are the finalists of Copa Sudamericana 2019. Both teams are already in Asunción to contend in the first single-match final of the tournament.
Just like in Copa Libertadores, the format has changed and will now put the spotlight not just on both finalists, also on the venue hosting their clash. Some of Latin America's most cherished football temples have been lined up to host upcoming finals. But this very first one comes to a special place for us: Estadio General Pablo Rojas, or simply La Nueva Olla.
In 2018 we've seen just how much enthusiasm and pride its reconstruction has generated. Now let's hear from the main architect behind La Nueva Olla, Alfredo Angulo Quevedo, in a short interview never published before.
This project first became famous around the world for how much work supporters carried out on the construction site.
With my colleagues from the Construction Committee we worked intensely in the control of works, where contribution from the base was fundamental. Many fans collaborated with interesting ideas, some of them were delivered, but I think the most important contribution was given by the fans on site. Members of the organized group became actual workers. This phenomenon of social transformation changed the relationship between common fans and organized fans. 70% of the workers are lovers of the Club, and 15% belonged to the 'hinchada organizada'.
It's not the only stadium you worked on but it must have been special to work with Cerro Porteño, a club with so many titles and supporters across the country...
Undoubtedly it is a unique experience, not only mine but of all my colleagues who are also partners and leaders of the Club. Cerro Porteño is the most popular club in the country. Being able to design and direct the work of my club's stadium is a dream come true.
After many months in operation already, do you check back how fans feel inside the stadium? Both the main stand and preferential seating and also the popular sections.
Since the opening, it is felt that the fans returned to their home. For a long time every game was played full stadium and that shows how comfortable and happy they are in their stadium.
From a European perspective it's stunning to see such large stadium being fitted into so little space. It's almost hanging over nearby streets. How challenging was it to create the oval bowl with fans being safe both inside and out?
The lack of space was a determining factor. In some sectors, the giant is built on top of the street, which forced to be very critical with the constructive solutions and safety standards not only during the construction, but also for the days of matches.
Was there ever a concept of making the stadium more 'rectangular' rather than oval?
No, for two reasons. First, I consider that the oval shape allows better viewpoints from all points of the stadium and second, for a cost issue. Changing the form would have involved demolishing absolutely everything and that was not the idea. We always talked about reform and expansion of the stadium.
Should such need arise, do you think the La Nueva Olla could grow further?
Seeing the response of the fans in each game, I believe that in the future, not too far away, we will have to grow. La Nueva Olla can grow even more!
Could you give us any indication as to how much it could grow? It's already the largest across the country!
Today is the largest, most modern and comfortable stadium in Paraguay. I think with a further expansion, we could get to house 60,000 spectators.