RIP Wulihe Stadium of Shenyang. Built in 1989, this stadium is best known for being the place where China qualified for the World Cup Finals by beating Oman 1-0 in October 2001. It was razed to the ground in a little over six seconds on Feb. 12, 2007.
When Beijing won the Olympics, Shenyang applied to host some of the soccer games and was granted approval. Everyone assumed that these games would be held at Wulihe Stadium, and even housing prices shot up in nearby areas, where real-estate developers said you could “watch the Olympics from home!”
On September 9, 2005, the Shenyang government said that it would revamp Wulihe but only one month later retracted that statement. Instead they decided to spent 1.9 billion yuan building a new stadium nearby. But why?
One report suggests that Wulihe was standing on prime commercial real estate land. This is why, the report states, the land that Wulihe stands on is worth 1.6 billion yuan.And then there are the fans. Sun Changlong, 45, is the head of the Shenyang Soccer Fans Association (actually it might include other sports, but we know that he basically lives for soccer). In front of the recently deceased stadium there used to be a statue commemorating China’s entry into the World Cup Finals, a historical moment for Chinese soccer fans.
Sun Changlong was instrumental in getting that statue made. It took over 1 million RMB to make, and 370,000 of that came from his own pocket. He sold cars, his big house, and borrowed money. He’s still in debt today, and says that creditors still come by his place to inquire about their money.
In recent days, Sun has left some strange notes on his blog, saying to the effect that the captain was going to go down with the ship. The stadium was guarded day and night by the PLA, yet Sun said that he knew every nook and cranny of the place, including a secret passageway in. People started getting worried. The government and the police were probably notified, friends stayed with him as much as possible. Yet the night before, he slipped out of the house without his mobile phone. His wife was worried but said that she believed her husband, rather than become a martyr, would rather live to fight another day.
Sun didn’t do anything rash. On the day of the destruction (Feb 12), he had planned to gather some fans and hold a “memorial” of sorts, but was told by authorities not to. It seems that he didn’t watch the explosion. When being interviewed he was clearly very emotional and often broke into tears—the statue, of course, was very meaningful to him, and he even once wrote or said that he’d considered putting a small cavity in the statue where he could one day have his ashes laid to rest.
In an emotional state, Sun said that he really had nothing left to live for and is especially angry about how the government could once pretend to care so much about soccer and then turn around and not only demolish the stadium, but then not care about fate of the statue afterwards. The city government had actually suggested a new home for the statue, but Sun said it was on a site that used to be a cemetery, which was not quite the propitious site that fans of Chinese soccer were hoping for. He has promised, as of a report that came out yesterday, to reveal more of the inner goings-on of the government as relates to the statue (and the stadium?) on his blog. Will it be some big expose that will rock the very foundations of the Shenyang sporting establishment? Doubt it. But we’ll probably check back, just to make sure.
Photos from qq.com