REUTERS: Evergrande Group has begun work on what will be the world's largest purpose-built soccer stadium, with a capacity of 100,000 seats, in the southern city of Guangzhou, the Chinese real estate company has said.
Construction of the Guangzhou Evergrande Soccer Stadium, also dubbed "Lotus Flower Stadium" for its design, started on April 16 and would cost around 12 billion yuan (US$1.69 billion) to complete, the group said.
It will be home to Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande and surpass Barcelona's Camp Nou as the largest purpose-built soccer venue by capacity, it added.
North Korea's multi-purpose Rungrado 1st of May Stadium would remain the largest sports stadium in the world with around 114,000 seats.
The lotus design was chosen as it is a traditional Chinese flower, the group said, adding that it was conceptualised by Shanghai-based designer Hasan A. Syed.
The stadium would also include entertainment, commercial and dining areas and is likely to be completed by the end of 2022.
The company said it was building the venue as China did not have enough professional, purpose-built soccer stadiums and that it hoped the facility would help boost Chinese soccer.
China are 76th in the FIFA world rankings.
Evergrande said it also planned to build two more stadiums of around 80,000 seats each in China, adding that designs for those facilities were currently under review.
(US$1 = 7.0801 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)