Costa Rica's New National Stadium

Thursday, February 24, 2011 | View Comments

- Jason Davis

Costa Rica's new national athletics and soccer stadium, generously financed by the Chinese government (?!?), is set to open next month. The Costa Rica National Team will face Argentina on March 29th, then a concert by Shakira will close the grand opening festivities. The 35,000 seat venue, built at a cost of $105 million, will replace Estadio Saprissa as the largest in the country.

Thanks to Matt at US Soccer Daily for posting a link to photos of the building, which looks spectacular.

Check out the brilliant photos here.

Surely this means the end of Saprissa as a den of horrors for the United States, though I suppose it's possible Costa Rica could still choose to hold games there. Considering the quality of the artificial surface at Saprissa, I wonder if FIFA allow them to strategically schedule games there when an alternative, natural surface venue is available. Hmm.

Most notable about the new stadium is how far the athletics track pushes the stands back from the field. Part of the power of Saprissa was the proximity of the rabid Ticos faithful to the action and therefore the opposing players. Saprissa was intimidating, hence the the nickname "The Monster's Cave." The new national stadium looks like it will be a pussy cat in comparison. That's not to say I think winning in Costa Rica will ever be "easy."

Estadio Saprissa

The new CONCACAF qualifying format means the US will never get another crack at winning their first meaningful game at Azteca. The opening of a new national stadium in Costa Rica means the same for winning at Saprissa, though the USMNT will probably face the Ticos in qualifying in the future.

The former I lament. The latter, not so much. Good riddance (I hope) to Estadio Saprissa.

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