The €60m sports arena that will never open

Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones - [email protected] • 16 Feb, 2015 Updated Mon 16 Feb 2015 10:28 CEST
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The modern sports facility in Pamplona is almost finished, but with no opening date in sight, could it be the latest in a long line of Spain’s white elephant building projects?


After spending €58 million on a state of the art, multi-use facility, the local government in Navarre does not know what to do with it.

From the outside, the Reyno de Navarra Arena is impressive and imposing; a giant white cube covered in 933 smaller illuminating cubes. But the nearby streets are silent and wire fences surround the unused public building.

In pics: check out some of Spain's most wasteful building projects 

The project is the latest victim of the crisis, just one in a long line of white elephants that have plagued Spain since 2008.  

The building was approved back in 2008 as a response to the economic crisis, part of a €4.5 billion plan by the community of Pamplona.

The scheme was modelled on Plan E, the series of ill-advised measures put in place by the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to use public money to attempt to boost Spain’s economic activity.

But the sports and cultural centre has yet to open, with no sign that it will in the near future, the latest victim of Spain’s building boom.

As it lies empty, it is hemorrhaging cash: security and maintenance alone cost around €250,000 a year, while expected demand has plummeted.

"The demands and habits of the general public have changed due to the crisis," Ángel Vázquez, consultant on the project, told Spanish daily, El País.

According to Socialist party politician, Roberto Jiménez, "If we could go back to 2008, nobody would have taken this decision (to go ahead with the build), we thought that the crisis would be over quickly."

The local government has now dismissed purely public running of the centre and is exploring public-private partnerships.

For sports events the arena could hold up to 10,000 spectators, while the capacity for concerts increases to 12,000. 

Spain's white elephants

Castellón airport 

Spain’s infamous 'ghost airport' was still lying empty four years after its inauguration and was plagued by controversy, from its €150 million overspend to the court case and subsequent conviction of the man behind the airport, Carlos Fabra. It was announced at the end of 2014 that the airport had finally been given the go ahead to start operating its first flights.

Ciudad Real airport

Another airport white elephant, Ciudad Real’s empty airport became an enduring symbol of Spain’s economic crisis. Saddled with debts of nearly €529 million, the airport closed in 2012 after just three years of operating. 

Dry ski slope near Valladolid 

Opening a dry ski slope in a village of 100 inhabitants might not be the wisest idea. Funnily enough, the €12 million project stalled and became another of Spain’s white elephants. 

In pics: check out some of Spain's most wasteful building projects 



Jessica Jones 2015/02/16 10:28

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