Neighbors Score Victory in Mexico City Sports Stadium Fight

Local Government Says Residents Have Won Campaign To Save Two Public Parks

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard's pet project to destroy two public parks to build a for-profit sports stadium has been halted due to public pressure form neighbors living near the construction zone, according to city officials.

Earlier this week, city Secretary for Economic Development Laura Velázquez told media outlets that the project, called the Mexico City Arena, would not be built on its planned site in the northern borough of Azcapotzalco. Neighbors who live in the area have organized a strong opposition to the construction plan, which would have handed over two large parks to the Mexican business Grupo Avalanz to build the stadium. The city official cited a “politicization between neighbors and other parties that forced the canceling of the project,” according to press reports.

(Online ad for the arena from Grupo Avalanz.)

“In a residential and industrial zone like Azcapotzalco, where green areas are becoming scarce, these parks are essential for the recreation and ecology of the place,” Martín, a member of the movement against the stadium, told Narco News last month.

Residents from seventeen neighborhoods and towns used a number of nonviolent tactics to stop the project, like street blockades and occupying the construction zones. They also grew an alliance across the city, which included borough officials and the University of Azcapotzalco, located adjacent to the parks.

In February, residents were alerted by the city government that the parks, named Alameda Norte and Deportivo Reynosa, would be taken out of the public domain. Despite the local government's refusal to offer information on its plan for the land, neighbors soon discovered that it would be used to create a lavish arena with 126 “luxury suites” and a helicopter landing pad.

Neighbors say they are still skeptical about the announcement, and won't celebrate until it's made official and put in writing. “For us to believe that it's really been canceled the reincorporation of Alameda Norte and Deportivo Reynosa [into the public domain] will have to be published in the Mexico City government's official register,”  Laura Romero, a Azcapotzalco resident, told the newspaper Reforma. (Content is blocked by pay wall.)

Grupo Avalanz has told the media that it's mulling over options to build the stadium in another location of the city. It's still unclear what will become of the parks in Azcapotzalco.

The stadium is just one of Ebrard's city plans that has stirred organized opposition from  neighborhoods in the city. Other city dwellers are using similar tactics to stop the construction of a toll superhighway and a new subway line.

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Erin Rosa is a writer from Denver, Colorado based in the Western Hemisphere.