Prague City Council gives green light to new stadium

Moving on to some good news for Czech football fans, especially those who couldn't get tickets for September's Euro 2004 qualifier against Holland, because Prague's 20,000-capacity Letna stadium was sold-out. Prague City Council on Tuesday expressed its support for the building of a new 50,000 thousand-seat national sports stadium in the city's Strahov district.

The new national stadium would not be on the site of the gigantic Strahov stadium once used for mass gymnastics displays, but would be built beside it, where the Evzen Rosicky stadium now stands. It was the Czech football association who put the proposal for the new stadium to the Prague authorities. Daniel Macho is the association's spokesman:

"We would like to have this new national stadium here in Prague because we need to have more space for spectators for the bigger sport events here in the Czech Republic. For the game against the Netherlands, for example, we needed four times more places for spectators than we had. The biggest stadium in the Czech Republic now for football matches is the Sparta Prague stadium, which is for 20,000 people and the new stadium here in Strahov will be for 52,000 people. This will be enough for the Czech Republic because it is much smaller than Spain or England, for example, and we can honestly say that we do not need the stadiums to be so big because it is just for about two football events per year. So, it is big enough for us. We are also thinking that this stadium will be used if the Czech Republic and Prague host the Olympic Games in the future. So, the project will not just be for football matches. "

The construction of the stadium is estimated to cost between 4.5 - 5 billion Czech crowns. According to the Chairman of the Czech football association, Jan Obst, potential investors will be approached in the coming days, and the plan is to complete construction by 2009. The Czech FA's project has not met with universal support; some have pointed to the complications connected with the funding of a new ice hockey stadium in Prague 9. Mr Obst has rejected such fears, saying construction would not begin before all the necessary funds had been acquired.