TURIN, Italy (AP) – The stadium that Benito Mussolini ordered built in the 1930s is just about ready to host opening and closing ceremonies for the Turin Winter Olympics, after a $35.4 million renovation.

The fascist-era Stadio Comunale – originally called Stadio Mussolini – has been renamed Stadio Olimpico for the Feb. 10-26 games.

The stadium unveiled Tuesday looks completely new, with a roof hanging over the seating area around its entire circumference, a new commercial area and underground parking. It was built on Mussolini’s orders in 1932-33.

“It’s a matter of pride to know that this will be Italy’s stage when 2 billion people watch the opening ceremony,” organizing committee chief Valentino Castellani said before a gathering of several hundred people.

The renovation began in March 2004. Construction is nearly complete, although workers still were hammering away during the inauguration.

Including 8,000 temporary seats, it will have a capacity of 35,000 for the Olympic ceremonies. A massive stage has been erected on one end and a raised wooden surface covers most of the field.

Beginning next season, the stadium will be used by the Torino soccer club. Turin’s other team, Juventus, may also use the facility for two years when renovation on Stadio Delle Alpi begins after this season.

Torino and Juventus representatives joined Olympic officials at the presentation.

“They did a very beautiful job,” Juventus coach Fabio Capello said. “We hope we can play here too.”

Juventus won 20 Italian league titles and Torino won one at the stadium before it was abandoned before the 1990 World Cup, for which Stadio Delle Alpi was built.

Turin mayor Sergio Chiamparino said he would like the stadium to be called Grande Torino after the Olympics in honor of the Torino team wiped out in a plane crash in 1949. The club had won the league title four consecutive times.


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