Designed to eclipse some of the world's biggest stadiums, including Barcelona's Camp Nou, the 100,000-seat Evergrande Stadium in Guangzhou is set to open in 2022, just in time for the Asia Cup in 2023. Construction work began Thursday, with design plans unveiled to the public showcasing eye-popping features such as the glowing lotus-shaped roof, which is a reference to Guangzhou's reputation as China's 'Flower City'.
Xia Haijun, president of Evergrande Real Estate Group, told reporters at the groundbreaking ceremony that Evergeande Stadium "will become a new world-class landmark comparable to the Sydney Opera House and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and an important symbol of Chinese football to the world."
According to ESPN, eight design proposals were submitted to Evergrande, including proposals from the UK, Australia and the US, before the company made the decision to go with Shanghai-based American designer Hasan Syed.
Since being bought over by Evergrande in 2010, Guangzhou's team has won eight Chinese Super League titles and two Asian Champions Leagues, reports CNN. The club currently hosts home games at Tianhe Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 58,500.
As well as hosting Super League matches, Evergrande Stadium could play a part in the newly-expanded FIFA Club World Cup. The event was due to take place in 2021 but plans were postponed in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, with a new date set to be revealed later this year.
China has been focused on becoming a football superpower in recent years by luring foreign stars from Europe and South America with eye-watering contracts, as well as developing world-class training schools and fields to host the next generation of players.