Having spent funds earmarked for a new football stadium on the Beach Road beautification project, Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome finally found someone to build the 20,000-seat stadium on its shoestring budget: The Royal Thai Army.
Itthiphol and 1sr Army Area Commander Lt. Gen. Thirachai Nakvnich signed an agreement March 13 to have the military fund the second-phase of the moribund 774 million baht project near the Eastern National Indoor Stadium on Soi Chaiyapruek 2.
An artist’s rendering of the construction plan for phase 2 of the football stadium.
The army will provide labor, equipment, and construction materials with Pattaya pledging to pay the military 536.5 million baht for construction. The army will begin construction within a month and finish the project within three years and four months. Any delay will need to be approved by the city.
Begun in 2009, Itthiphol’s pet project was intended to house 12 different sport fields, swimming pool, tennis court, 12 main and minor sport stadiums and a 500-car parking lot.
The first phase of the project, with 90 million baht spent on 5,000 of the planned 20,000 seats at the football stadium, was completed in September 2010. Grass was planted and construction of the final 15,000 seats was supposed to begin with a 500 million baht budget later that year, with completion set for late 2012.
But after a series of design and construction delays, the mayor in February 2012 diverted 140 million baht in stadium-construction funds to beautify the landscape on Pattaya Beach, work which was wiped out less than a year later when the mayor pushed through his plan to widen Beach Road.
With less money to build, Pattaya officials demanded cost cuts and price concessions from the contractor. Claiming the delays actually had made the job unprofitable, the contractor quit, leaving the city with no money and no company to build Itthiphol’s dream stadium.
City officials said the they were searching for a construction company to do the job at a lower price but, apparently, couldn’t find anyone but military conscripts to do the work for their price.