Chinese real estate company Evergrande Group has broke ground on what it claims will be the world’s largest professional football stadium, with the venue in Guangzhou to be followed by a further three to five stadia with capacities of between 80,000 and 100,000.

The new stadium will be home to Evergrande Group’s Chinese Super League (CSL) club, Guangzhou Evergrande, with the company stating it will accommodate up to 100,000 people. Evergrande will make a total investment of CNY12bn (£1.36bn/€1.57bn/$1.69bn) in the project, which will include a sports complex, with the cost of the 750 acres of land on which it will sit said to amount to CNY6.8bn alone.

The stadium will be located adjacent to Guangzhou South railway station, and is planned to be completed by the end of 2022. With a floor area of around 150,000 square metres, it has taken design inspiration from a blooming lotus flower, a nod to Guangzhou’s status as China’s ‘Flower City’. A video of the stadium can be found here.

The announcement comes with China set to embark on a major stadium development drive ahead of its hosting of the 2023 Asian Cup national team tournament. China was awarded hosting rights to the event in June 2019 and the Chinese Football Association in December named the 10 host cities as: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Dalian, Qingdao, Xiamen and Suzhou.

While Guangzhou wasn’t named amongst the host cities, Xia Haijun, president of Evergrande Group, said he hopes the new stadium can play a part in the tournament. “We hope the stadium will host the opening ceremony of the Asian championships in 2023,” Xia said, according to state news agency Xinhua. “We will build another three or five top level professional football stadia with capacities of 80,000 to 100,000 in China.”

At the time of the hosting rights award, China said it intended to build new stadia in seven of the 12 planned host cities, with the country’s bid also including one back-up existing stadium in each host city.

China’s bid documents outlined that minor renovation work was planned for the National Stadium in Beijing, along with the Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium, Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Centre Main Stadium, Changsha’s Helong Sports Centre Stadium and Guangzhou Tianhe Sports Centre Stadium.

The final of the tournament will be held at Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium, which is currently under construction. The stadium is also set to host a semi-final along with Beijing’s National Stadium.

At the time, other stadia that were listed as under construction included Chongqing Liangjiang Football Match Centre Stadium, Dalian Professional Football Stadium, Wuhan Tazi Lake Football Stadium, Chengdu Fenghuangshan Sports Centre Professional Football Stadium, Shaanxi Province Stadium and Kunshan Sports Centre.

In October, FIFA confirmed that China would become the first host of an expanded Club World Cup in 2021. FIFA said the tournament would be played between June and July 2021, but last month opted to postpone the event following the move of UEFA Euro 2020 and the 2020 Copa America to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Images: Evergrande Group