Ruins of Roman Amphitheater in Mérida To Be Turned into Paddle Tennis Courts

Roman Amphitheater in MéridaPhoto via: Mérida y Comarca
Roman Amphitheater in Mérida
Photo via: Mérida y Comarca

The ruins of a Roman amphitheater located in Mérida, Spain, will be turned into courts to host the World Padel Tour 2015 tournament in May, El Periódico de Extremadura reports.

The amphitheater was inaugurated in the year 8 BC and hosted gladiatorial fights between men and, occasionally, beasts.

A structure weighing several tons will be installed in the Roman ruin to turn it into a fully-functioning paddle tennis arena. The structure will include courts, grandstands, and a reception area, according to Portal Clásico.

Some may see the repurposing of the ancient amphitheater as a sports pitch as a return of sorts to the venue’s original spirit. But for many, including several politicians and lovers of art history, it is a colossal mistake.

Álvaro Vázquez, a council from the Mérida branch of the Spanish left-wing party IU, has been one of the most vocal opponents to the project.

According to El Diario, Vázquez has warned that a big sports event such a paddle tournament is completely against the regulations that protect sites with national heritage status, such as the Mérida amphitheater.

An online petition, demanding that the plans be halted, was launched on Wednesday and had gathered 2,690 signatures (out of the 5,000 required) at the time of writing.

The mayor of Mérida, Pedro Acedo, has rebuffed criticism, arguing that “if the consulted experts have given their consent, it is because the project entails no danger” to the site.

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