After numerous delays, the new stadium in Izmir’s Alsancak area finally has an opening date. The inauguration is set for November 11. Along with growing delays, the stadium’s cost increased significantly.
In this place, at the heart of Izmir, the very first professional league game in Turkey took place back in 1939. For many football fans, especially those cherishing the black and white colours of Altay, this ground is sacred. It was partly thanks to them that the stadium is being rebuilt rather than moved away from the centre.
Ever so late...
The old stadium was demolished in 2014, following claims of major structural damage after preceding earthquake. Formally, ground was broken on the new venue in 2017 but initially there was little progress.
This proved to be an issue throughout the process, which in recent years is a problem common among all new Turkish stadiums. Before groundbreaking the delivery date was expected in 2018, then moved to 2019, then again, this time to 2020.
And yet already before the ongoing pandemic there were further delays, moving the official delivery to early 2021. We’re past mid-2021 now and the project is still not finished. Even more, news agency IHA revealed yesterday that the progress rate is 90%, while the 15,000 black and white seats are yet to be ordered. One thing has changed: there’s an official date for opening, it’s November 11, 2021.
...and more expensive
Once complete, the stadium will be already the fourth new sports ground in greater Izmir, following Bornova, Tire and Göztepe. When compared objectively to other modern stadiums across UEFA, it’s still a very economic stadium.
But when rough numbers of contract values between 2017 and 2021 are compared, the stadium’s price tag has skyrocketed. The initial building contract was worth TRY 54.88 million, while at present IHA estimates the building to have consumed TRY 130 million. So, a colossal 135% spike.
On paper it seems like a skyrocketing increase, however local economic instability has to be taken into account. Turkey’s currency, the lira, is continuing its long-term decline, having lost bulk of its value within just a few years. Long story short: in 2017 the TRY 55 million was worth $15.4 million. In 2021 the updated value of TRY 130 million is worth… $15 million. So it’s a domestic inflation issue that has caused market prices to swell, internationally the stadium's value hasn't changed.
What will the new Alsancak stadium be like?
Izmir is different than most cities building new stadiums across Turkey. While majority of municipalities are pushing sports venues to newly built suburbs, Izmir is sticking to historical football sites. It’s a great thing for local identity but also a cause of compromises, especially in terms of spatial constraints. This was the case with new Gürsel Aksel Stadyumu, which was built more vertically and is also the case for Alsancak.
In order to hold 15,000 people, the stadium had to see two significant, double-tiered stands built along the sides. In the north there was no room for additional seats, in the south only a small away fans’ section was delivered. The nearly enclosed stadium is covered by white and black membrane in diagonal, nearly diamond-like pattern.
There’s enough floor space to meet UEFA Category 4 requirements, as well as to fit inside 10 private boxes and 7 commercial outlets. The most anticipated feature, however, remains the playing field, which will be hybrid for the first time. But most importantly to some, it will sit exactly where the first league goal was scored in 1939.
Author: Michał Karaś