Stalled 5 years, work on Pattaya’s white elephant football stadium resumes

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Deputy Mayor Pattana Boonsawat and local officials inspect the progress on the Eastern National Sports Complex’s proposed 20,000-seat football stadium.
Deputy Mayor Pattana Boonsawat and local officials inspect the progress on the Eastern National Sports Complex’s proposed 20,000-seat football stadium.

Pattaya’s white elephant football stadium is showing signs of life again.

Deputy Mayor Pattana Boonsawat toured the so-called Eastern National Sports Complex with city engineers on Jan. 25, surveying the restart of work on former Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome’s dream of a 20,000-seat football stadium.

Begun in 2009, the 774-million-baht sports complex near the Eastern National Indoor Sports Arena on Soi Chai­yapruek 2 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, Itthiphol in February 2012 diverted 140 million baht in stadium-construction funds to beautify the landscape on Pattaya Beach, work that was wiped out by his subsequent widening of 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.

Nothing was done for five years.

Last year Chonburi Province obtained 398 million baht in funding for 2018-2020 and hired Rama 2-HT Joint Venture Co. to finish the job. Work has now restarted on the west grandstand roof and east and south grandstands.

The Sports Authority of Thailand’s governor is expected to tour the project February 7-8 and quiz local officials on its progress during a SAT meeting at the Pinnacle Grand Jomtien Resort with hopes the stadium will be done in time to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2026.