Fans standing up for İnönü Stadium

Fans standing up for İnönü Stadium

Fans standing up for İnönü Stadium

Beşiktaş fans react to Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay’s suggestion that the team should ‘move to a new stadium.’ AP Photo

Football fans and pundits criticize Ertuğrul Günay as the culture minister does not back down from his stance against the expansion of Beşiktaş’s İnönü Stadium in Istanbul.

İnönü Stadium, which is usually regarded as one of the most beautiful football grounds in Europe in terms of atmosphere and location, is not in good condition, especially compared to homes of Beşiktaş’s rivals. Fenerbahçe is playing at its renovated Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, while Galatasaray this week will celebrate its first anniversary at the Türk Telekom Arena, the country’s most modern stadium.

“It might be a terrible city planning mistake that İnönü Stadium was located in ‘such a valuable place,’” academic and sportswriter Tanıl Bora wrote in his Radikal column yesterday. “But I believe football should have its own ‘protected areas.’ A stadium where so many memories were accumulated should be standing tall until the apocalypse. Even if it should be renovated, it should be modernized in a way to preserve its silhouette.”

As Beşiktaş club seeks ways for expanding the stadium to turn the facilities to a more lucrative one, it hits a wall of bureaucratic procedures and an obstacle by Günay.

The Supreme Council of Monuments issued a ruling last week saying the stadium could not be demolished, since it is located right next to Dolmabahçe Palace and has historic value.

Günay similarly says the stadium should be “carried” further from the sea if the club does not warm up to the idea of moving to somewhere further than the neighborhood, just like Galatasaray. He added that the stadium could be turned into a smaller stadium, having a cultural center in its premises.

Rıdvan Akar, a journalist and devout Beşiktaş fan, wrote an open letter to Günay earlier this week, saying that the stadium should be left at the district that has been home to the club which it took its name from.

“The stadium belonged to us for 64 years,” Akar wrote. “It belongs to us as our homes, our market places, our schools, our hospitals and our shrines do.

“Our stadium is old, we love it. Our stadium is out of fashion, we love it. Our stadium’s toilets are not working, we love it. Our pitch does not have under-soil heating, we love it. Our stadium is inadequate, we will squeeze in.

“Mr. Minister, you are squeezing us.”