Mexico’s Yucatán province is targeting national team matches and top-flight football after confirming that work can begin on the new 27,000-capacity Yucatán Sustainable Stadium.

The new arena, first discussed a year ago, will be completed during 2023 and will play host to the second-tier football club Venados de Mérida and the Leones de Yucatán baseball team.

The Populous-designed stadium will have movable stands which allow it to change from football to baseball configuration while ensuring fans still get optimised views. It will have a capacity of 23,000 for baseball matches, 27,000 for football and 32,000 for concerts.

Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal said the stadium in Mérida can be a catalyst for growth in the region, with plans being compliant with FIFA and Major League Baseball (MLB) requirements. He suggested it can become a focal point for tourism, citing the success of the Estadio de Mazatlán which has proven economically beneficial in Sinaloa province since it opened last year.

“It is a work that is going to be a catalyst in the development not only of Mérida, but of the entire state of Yucatán,” Vila Dosal said. “And of course, it is also an opportunity to integrate those colonies of the city of Mérida that, despite being in the north, they lagged a little behind over the years, so that this stadium allows them to improve and catch up with the others in this area.

“We also want the opportunity to have First Division soccer here in Yucatan. I believe that the dream of all of us who like sports is to be able to have a First Division team.”

As well as 4,000 jobs created during the construction phase, around 1,000 jobs will be generated when the stadium is operational. It will have a hotel with 300 rooms, museum, restaurants and other services available. It will also feature 9,000 square metres of meeting space to promote the region as a zone for business and investment.

The stadium will be part of a wider Comprehensive Urban Improvement Plan with the objective of integrating the stadium into the local community. This plan will be led by the state government and the Mérida City Council.

Officials also reiterated a commitment towards sustainability, saying its targets make it the “first stadium of its kind in Mexico”. It will be one of the first in the world to achieve the Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification, which recognises infrastructure works on issues such as efficient use of water, energy, materials and resources, air quality and transportation.

Image: Leones de Yucatán