August 31, 2011
Mexican Pan Am Games main venue construction concern
With two months left before the start of the Pan American Games, the event’s centerpiece, an 8,500-seat track and field stadium is severely lagging behind due to years of poor planning, political infighting and now a rainy season that has left the venue a muddy mess.
With 42 countries competing in 36 sports, the Pan American Games is the biggest multi-sport event Mexico has hosted since the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Other Games venues appear to be on track for completion before the Oct. 14 opening, but the track and field venue is far behind and is still only accessible by dirt trails. The original date of completion was set for May.
The US$28 million project has faced countless delays, and construction only began late in 2010.
“There is an enormous amount of work still to do (on the stadium),” said Hugo Rodriguez, director of infrastructure for the organizing committee. “We are pressuring (the construction company). It is such a big construction job that the 20 per cent that remains amounts to a lot of things.”
The original building was planned to have a 15,000-capacity stadium overlooking the Huentitan Canyon, but environmental regulations, construction difficulties and politicking between the state government and local government led to the structure’s cancellation.
They are also behind the delay in the current venue. The main stand is taking shape, but the seats need to be installed and the track has yet to be laid. The ongoing tropical rainy season has created huge pools of water on the construction site.
The stadium is 80 per cent complete, according to Rodriguez, who, remains confident the venue will be ready when the athletics competition starts on Oct. 23.
“They have a signed commitment to finish it,’’ said Rodriguez of Fonatur, the federal government-run body charged with the construction of the stadium.
The athletes’ village was another cause for concern, but construction is now almost complete on the facility that will house the 6,835 athletes competing at the Games.
The swimming and tennis venues, located in Parque Metropolitano on the wealthier western side of the city, are the “emblematic” venues for the games, according to Rodriguez.
Games organizers have been criticized for failing to involve less well-off parts of the community: 11 of the 15 new, permanent venues are located on the wealthier side of an economically divided city.
The organizing committee has met with transportation officials to set up 280 kilometres of special lanes for vehicles carrying athletes and officials to help by pass the traffic jams that occur daily at peak hours in the 4.4-million person city.
The Pan American Games are expected to bring US$2.7 billion in economic gain to Guadalajara.
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