The Ciudad Deportiva was a mix between a stadium complex and amusement park built by the Argentine soccer club Boca Júniors Fútbol Club. The project was built over seven artificial islands on sixty hectares of land filled in Buenos Aires’s Rio de la Plata. Besides an enormous 140,000-seat stadium and various athletic facilities, the project was to include an aquarium, mini-golf, mechanical rides for children, and a drive-in movie theater for 500 cars. This project combined public and private funds, embodying a new vision of middle-class consumption that fit into city planner’s designs for a modern city with ample leisure space. Yet, a combination of poor engineering, financial mismanagement, and political disputes ensured that the ambitious plans started in 1965 would be largely abandoned by the 1978 World Cup deadline. This episode is an illuminating historical case study that reveals the wider relationship between civic associations and mass consumer culture during a time of political and economic upheaval in Argentina. By studying the relationship between the state, urban citizens, and members of Boca Júniors, this project advances our understanding of the relationship between soccer and society in mid-twentieth century Argentina.
The digital repository and exhibit for this project, Constructing the Ciudad Deportiva, is developed be Alex Galarza, an History PhD candidate, and will also serve as a prototype repository and exhibit for his larger digital dissertation. Built with KORA, Constructing the Ciudad Deportiva builds from other MATRIX projects, including David Robinson’s Failed Islamic States and soviethistory.org. Constructing the Ciudad Deportiva uses images, short descriptions, and media such as oral interviews and videos to engage people with a piece of soccer’s cultural heritage in Buenos Aires and wider arguments about the role of soccer in Argentine society.
The project aims to engage fans of soccer and members of the communities in Argentina as well as historians and anthropologists interested in questions of culture and politics. Such a wide audience presents challenges a website’s ability to capture varied interests, but it also presents an opportunity to develop a model of popular and public history that can preserve a long-form argument closer to a monograph or dissertation in an online platform.