Jerusalem (Jul. 1)
The Jerusalem City Council is due to debate shortly a proposal to convert the Hebrew University’s athletic field into the full size sports arena the city fathers have long wanted but which has been vigorously opposed by some elements of the population.
More than five years ago, Mayor Teddy Kollek pressed plans to build a modern stadium in the northern outskirts of the city near the suburb of Ramot. Millions of Pounds were spent preparing the site. But fierce protests from Orthodox residents who objected to football games on the Sabbath killed the plans.
As an alternative, the city proposed to enlarge the existing Hapoel football field in the Katamon quarter from 7000 to 14,000 seats. But residents of that quiet middle class neighborhood banded together to oppose it, mainly on environmental grounds. Rather than face a protracted legal battle, the Municipality reverted to a long standing proposal to upgrade the Hebrew University field to accomodate the fans of Jerusalem’s two football clubs — Hapoel and Betar.
According to Jerusalem Post municipal affairs reporter Abraham Rabinovich, no one ever explained why that idea was not implemented years ago inasmuch as the university’s field is ideally sited far from residential areas and close to the heart of the city.
In the past, the university had protested that the unruly football crowds might damage campus property. But much of the university has since moved to the Mt. Scopus campus and according to municipality spokesmen, the university’s position “has changed.” The final outcome is expected to depend upon the position taken by Hebrew University president Avraham Harman.