Turkish football sanctuary to be converted into housing area and shopping mall
İZMİT – Doğan News Agency
Former winner of the Turkish Cup, Kocaelispor is just one position ahead of the relegation spots in the Group 3 of the third division. Hürriyet photoOnce home to the most difficult away games of the Turkish football elite, İzmit’s İsmetpaşa Stadium is preparing for a sad farewell after hosting Kocaelispor fans for more than 37 years. With the club having sunk in the fourth tier of leagues in the country, its iconic home is to set to be demolished after the organization of a tender by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) Oct. 22 in Ankara for the reconversion of the area to housing units and a shopping mall.
The state housing agency will, however, build a new stadium with a capacity of 33,000 spectators, almost doubling İsmetpaşa Stadium’s capacity, along with a sporting complex. The project will have an approximate cost of 120 million Turkish Liras, while the club that went bankrupt in 2009 while still be competing in the Super League is just one position ahead of the relegation spots in the Group 3 of the third division and is desperately seeking sponsors. The construction process, which has not started yet, will force the team to play its home games either in the neighboring industrial district of Körfez or in Gölcük, right across the İzmit bay.
Although representing the town of İzmit only an hour from Istanbul, the club is among those with the most vivid competitive traditions with legendarily ardent fans. It has also been one of the most successful ones after Turkey’s four “big” clubs – Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor – especially during the 90s, clinching the Turkish Cup twice in 1997 and 2002.
Built in 1976, the İsmetpaşa Stadium is located in an area with a high estimated value due to its closeness to the İstanbul-Ankara highway