Sell-out crowd attends opening of new AEK stadium

Greek Super League football club AEK Athens officially moved into the new OPAP Arena on Friday night as a sell-out crowd of 32,000 attended an opening ceremony to christen the venue.

The arena was built on the site of Nikos Goumas Stadium, which served as AEK’s home from 1928 to 1985, and 1987 to 2003, before being demolished. The club had been playing at the 69,000-capacity Olympic Stadium while its new home was being built.

AEK owner Dimitris Melissanidis, who bought the club in 2013 after it encountered financial problems, was the main speaker during Friday’s event and cut the ribbon to declare OPAP Arena officially open.

The event also featured appearances from club legends and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Athens, as well as a light show and a celebration of AEK’s history. AEK will play its first match at the stadium later today (Monday) against Ionikos.

Gaming company OPAP acquired naming rights to the stadium earlier this year. AEK holds a partnership with South Korean electronics company LG to enhance the technology offering at the stadium.

Construction work at the stadium commenced back in July 2017. It had been hoped that AEK would play at the stadium during the 2021-22 season, but the opening date was pushed back to this season.

Plans for a new stadium were first outlined in July 2013, with the project eventually granted government approval four years later.