Zurich voters greenlight long-awaited new stadium complex despite opposition

November 28 – A slim majority of voters in Zurich has greenlighted the construction of a new 18,000 all-seat football stadium in the city.

‘Project Ensemble’, will include office space and high-rise apartment buildings with more than 500 flats, in the Hardturm neighbourhood of the city. The project received narrow approval from local voters with 53.8% in favor of the proposal to sell the 55,000 square metres plot to private investors, including Credit Suisse.

The whole development will cost about $571 million, but the project was not without its detractors. The political left argued that the project allows investing banks to construct luxury apartments at a bargain price.

They accused the project investors of using public money for the construction of the stadium via an ingenious backhand deal. Investors have promised to finance the new stadium with earnings from the flat, but the city will contribute by allowing for lower tax rates on the flats.

Two high-rise buildings will complete the projects.  The two towers will each be 137 metres high, taller than Zurich’s biggest skyscraper The Prime Tower (126 metres tall). Local association and protest group IG Freiräume Zurich has voiced its disapproval at the motion, coming out “in defense of green spaces”.

Zurich boasts two football clubs: FC Zurich and the once famed Zurich Grasshoppers. They play at the 25,000 capacity Letzigrund Stadium, which is primarily a track and field facility where the Diamond League passes once a year.

Zurich was not among the host cities during Euro 2008 which was jointly hosted by Austria and Switzerland, and didn’t benefit for any new stadium build or reburishments.

The new stadium is projected to be completed in 2022, but further protests and complaints that have been filed with the city could still derail the construction. Back in 2003, a 30,000 capacity stadium was proposed for Zurich as a public-private partnership. That project was later abandoned, even after public approval, over administrative court action.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618613460labto1618613460ofdlr1618613460owedi1618613460sni@o1618613460fni1618613460