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Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium


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Was just looking at the lineups for the UEFA Cup match between Graz AK and my home team these days (AZ Alkmaar), and I saw that the match would be played in Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium.

Who knew?

Wouldn't it be nice to have a Dan Akroyd Stadium, or a Jim Carey stadium (smmmmmmmokin'!)? (Although if it was a good SSS they could call it the Jonathan Torrens stadium for all I care).

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From AP / SLAM! Sports:

Schwarzenegger's name taken off soccer stadium


VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Officials in Arnold Schwarzenegger's hometown quietly removed his name from a soccer stadium overnight, complying with the California governor's demand in a bitter dispute over his death penalty stance.

Authorities late Sunday night or early Monday removed the large metal letters spelling out the action star-turned-politician's name from the 15,300-seat stadium in the southern city of Graz, taking advantage of the Christmas lull to avoid attracting attention.

Schwarzenegger had written to the mayor of Graz a week ago asking that his name be removed after local activists called for the stadium to be renamed because of Schwarzenegger's refusal to block the Dec. 13 execution of convicted murderer Stanley (Tookie) Williams in California.

Capital punishment is illegal in Schwarzenegger's native Austria, where many people consider it barbaric. Opposition had run especially high in Graz, whose official slogan is "City of Human Rights."

The governor, turning the tables on his critics, ordered his name removed and said he was returning a ring of honour that Graz officials gave him in 1999.

With the Hollywood star's name gone, the sign atop the stadium in Graz, about 200 kilometres south of Vienna, read simply: "Stadium Graz Liebenau." Officials had renamed the arena in Schwarzenegger's honour in 1997.

Calls to the city hall in Graz went unanswered Monday, a national holiday in Austria.

Last week, Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl wrote to Schwarzenegger urging him to reconsider his decision to cut ties to the city and to keep the ring. Nagl said he reassured Schwarzenegger that he remains admired by most local residents despite the fierce opposition to his support of the death penalty.

Nagl said he was worried that severing ties to Schwarzenegger, one of Austria's most famous sons, potentially could cost the city millions in tourist revenue.

But a movement to scrap Schwarzenegger's name from the stadium had gained momentum in recent weeks, and a majority of the city council in Graz was said to support the idea, making Schwarzenegger's demand a pre-emptive move.

Many Europeans have scorned the United States' use of capital punishment in general, and Schwarzenegger's refusal to grant clemency to convicts on California's death row in particular. They are now waiting to see how Schwarzenegger deals with the scheduled Jan. 17 execution of a 75-year-old inmate.

Schwarzenegger was born in 1947 in the village of Thal just outside Graz, where he began his bodybuilding career. He emigrated to the United States in 1968 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1984, but has retained his Austrian citizenship.

He remained quite popular in Austria, enjoying a surge in popularity after his 2003 election as governor, but many Austrians began to sour on him last January after he allowed California's first execution in three years to go forward.

Donald Beardslee, 61, was given a lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco. His Jan. 19 execution triggered protests in front of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna.

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