by Dong Yixing, Xiao Shiyao and Xia Zilin
BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Football is back, and so is the Beijing Workers' Stadium.
After more than two years of renovation and reconstruction, Beijing Workers' Stadium finally shook to chants and excitement as the 2023 Chinese Super League (CSL) season kicked off at this iconic ground on Saturday night.
Under the sculpture of a male and a female worker greeting guests, which has been standing inside the north gate since the first day of opening, thousands of football fans wearing Beijing Guoan's green jerseys entered the stadium again along the familiar route.
As one of the 10 major projects to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Beijing Workers' Stadium was designed and constructed in the then-eastern suburb of Beijing in 1959, becoming China's biggest multi-functional sporting complex at that time.
During the past decades, Workers' Stadium staged a number of domestic and international events, including China's inaugural National Games, the 2008 Olympic Games, the 1990 Asian Games and became home to Beijing Guoan in 1996, making it not only a stadium but also a witness of the tremendous development of China's sports industry and a reminder of Beijing's city spirit.
Workers' Stadium had undergone three structural enhancements and one facility renovation since the 1990s, but still couldn't meet the requirements of large-scale international professional football events, along with safety concerns in different aspects. The old stadium needed a fresh upgrade.
As Beijing Guoan beat Shandong Taishan 3-2 to conclude the 2019 CSL season on December 1, 2019, Workers' Stadium waved a temporary goodbye to its fans. In August 2020, the renovation and reconstruction started under the theme of "traditional appearance, modern venue."
Looking from the outside, the new stadium remains unchanged in its structural proportions, appearance and elements. But going inside, a modern and professional football stadium that meets the highest FIFA standards appears right in front.
The home-and-away format has been fully restored in the new season, which marks the 30th year of the professional era of Chinese football, as 46,818 football fans poured into the new Beijing Workers' Stadium for Saturday's opening game. Flying flags, rhythmic drumbeats, dynamic lights and waves of cheering echoed over the grounds.
Despite a 1-1 draw with the visiting Meizhou Hakka, Guoan fans made themselves heard until the final whistle, while the players greeted the South Stand after the game as they used to do in the good old times.
Apparently the legacy of the stadium and the bond with its football fans continue. Enditem