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Seville seeking 2008 Olympic bid
Posted: Wednesday May 05, 1999 12:37 PM
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) -- The Olympic Stadium in this southern Spanish city was built on a dream: securing international sporting status for this centuries-old jewel built on Spanish colonialism.
Inaugurated Wednesday with an international friendly soccer match between Spain and Croatia, the new stadium was the key to Seville's winning bid to host this summer's World Track and Field Championships Aug. 20-29.
But promoters of the 60,000-seat stadium insist the dream goes beyond August with their eyes set on landing the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Besides Seville, Toronto, Beijing, Paris and Osaka, Japan are seeking the 2008 Games with Beijing considered the favorite. At least four other cities are weighing a bid.
Observers believe Seville has little chance of winning the bid given that Spain hosted the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and Athens, another European city, will hold the 2004 Games.
"The stadium means that Seville now has everything we need to support our bid to house the Olympic Games," said Alejandro Rojas Marcos, the city's assistant mayor who headed the committee that oversaw construction of the multipurpose facility and has been the leader of Seville's Olympic effort.
The stadium boasts state-of-the-art installations and four buildings including a hotel, a sports museum and a shopping area. It cost nearly $96 million to build and was supported by national and local authorities.
It was also designed to be the home of the city's two main soccer clubs -- premier division Betis and second-division Seville -- although both are remodeling their own stadiums and are unlikely to use the facility.
And the stadium's builders dream on, their visions stretch beyond sports and into mass popular culture.
"The stadium will also allow Seville to get on the circuit of major cultural events," according to Rojas Marcos, who insists the comfort of seating and the quality of he sound system will attract the most elusive musical stars.
As well as somewhat cheekily calling itself Olympic Stadium -- without an Olympics -- it is also known as La Catuja stadium, named after the southern area of the city where it is located. The area also housed the Expo '92 universal fair -- one of the highlights of Spain's 500th anniversary celebration of Columbus' journey to America.
While the fair put Seville back on the international map several hundred years after its colonial golden age, Expo '92 failed to deliver jobs to Andalusia, where unemployment is reported at about 30 percent.
The inaugural match finds a rejuvenated Spanish national team feeling confident after its 9-0 rout of Austria in March in a European qualifier, but aware that Croatia was third in last year's World Cup.
Meanwhile, some 2,000 workers were still working Wednesday to put the finishing touch to the stadium, which will not be entirely completed until May 28 for the final of Spain's King Cup.
Keen not the ignore track and field at the inauguration attended by King Juan Carlos, Spaniard Reyes Estevez and Kenyan William Tanui were to head the bill in a 1,500-meter showcase race just before kickoff.
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