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Voters kill new Zurich West football stadium

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Voters kill new Zurich West football stadium
Rendering of proposed new stadium in Zurich West. Photo: City of Zurich
11:44 CEST+02:00
Zurich officials are back to Square One in planning a new home for the city's football teams after voters on Sunday narrowly rejected plans for a 216-million-franc ($237-million) stadium.

According to the latest results, 50.8 percent of citizens voted against the proposed stadium, designed to hold up to 19,500 spectators, in Zurich West.

“This is sad,” former Swiss national football team coach Kobi Kuhn, who campaigned for the new facility, told the Blick newspaper.

“But you have to take a vote as it comes.”

The result means that the Zurich FC and Grasshopper teams will continue to play in the current Letzigrund stadium for the foreseeable future.

This stadium, which opened in 2007 at a cost of 110 million francs, has a capacity of 25,000 spectators for football but it is viewed as less than an ideal for the sport because fans are sitting too far away from the field.

Now there is talk the Letzigrund, also a venue for rock concerts and track and field events, could be upgraded.

Representatives of the two football teams plan to sit down with city officials about the options but so far there is “no plan B”, Blick reported.

Critics of the proposed new stadium said it was too small, while others felt it was too costly.

By a healthy margin (67 percent),  Zurich voters accepted a 103-million-franc affordable housing development project planned next to the proposed new stadium.

But it is not clear whether the project can go ahead because of uncertainty about the land.

Blick reported online that the property for the housing project is part of a larger parcel sold to the city by the Credit Suisse bank in 2009 with a requirement that a stadium be built there.

The bank has a buy-back option if the stadium is not built.

The voter’s rejection of the proposed stadium is the latest setback in plans to replace Zurich’s Hardturm stadium, which closed in 2007.

An earlier proposal for a 30,000-seat stadium, with a budget of 350 million francs and planned financing by Credit Suisse, was dogged by legal issues.    

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