Granjas México, Iztacalco, 08400 Ciudad de México, CDMX
The great big copper dome of the Palacio de los Deportes (Palace of Sports) has been a landmark of Mexico City ever since its construction began in October of 1966, in preparation for the Olympic Games of Mexico City in 1968. The sports arena was to host fencing, gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, and volleyball competitions; and it did host that and more types of competitions over the years, such as basketball, ice hockey, and even equestrian events.
The capacity of the Palacio de los Deportes is 17,800 people, and it was designed by Spanish architect Félix Candela, along with Antonio Peyri and Enrique Castañeda Tamborell; Candela was a master of geometry, and he based the design of the dome on the paraboloid and the hyperbolic geometry for which he remains famous; the roof is covered in copper which is lightweight and allowed the arena to be of significant size without the obstruction of columns on the inside. Copper also gives it its distinctive luminosity and shine when the sun is out and there’s no smog to obstruct its rays which bounce from the dome, “The Palace of a Thousand Suns” it was called by a magazine from the United States at the time of its inauguration.
The government expropriated 245 hectares of the Magdalena Mixhiuca area, in the eastern part of the city, for the building of the Ciudad Deportiva Magdalena Mixhuca (“Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City”) in 1958 that would eventually include a wide array of sporting facilities including a soccer stadium, a baseball stadium, a velodrome; many tennis, baseball, and basketball courts and fields; and even an auto race track that currently hosts Formula 1 races. This massive sports complex wasn’t built in hopes of securing the summer Olympic Games but was rather started by an actor named Jesús Martínez “Palillo”, who was an actor and comedian that had a biting point of view on the government during the 1950s. This in turn led to a media war between the government and “Palillo”, with the former claiming that the actor didn’t actually provide an added value to the community other than his verbal attacks.
As a response, “Palillo” started gathering the funds needed to start this sports complex, and eventually, the federal government came on board in order to claim it as their own. The Palacio de los Deportes is nowadays one of the most concurred concert venues in the city, as well as hosting expos and other types of commercial and business events. The profile of the venue has changed so much over the years that this once cathedral of sports has seen some renovation work in order to improve the acoustics of its cavernous interior.
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