In Santiago, Chile, revolution simmers in the shadows. In the pursuit of international legitimacy, the government of General Antonio Galvez de Montoya is pulling out all the stops to build a state-of-the-art stadium to host the FIFA world championship. Unfortunately, it is the poorest residents of the country who will pay the true price of this glory, as crucial domestic programs are sacrificed. A well-organized leftist movement, enraged by the brutal conditions of the poor, threatens the status quo at a time when the eyes of the world are on Chile—and Galvez is not amused.
Two men from different continents converge on Santiago to help make Galvez’s dreams come true. Sergio Alvarez and George King face dramatic pressure to finish the project on time and on budget, no matter what it takes. Working from George’s design, Sergio must navigate a perilous path shaped by corruption, political malfeasance, and crooked suppliers. He also pulls the strings to get Cecilia, his college-graduate daughter, a job on the project—never thinking that such an arrangement might turn his family inside out. As Cecilia gets to know George, what began as a working relationship quickly becomes an undeniable passion; now it seems that nothing can keep them apart.
As the stadium project slowly moves toward completion, few are aware of the extraordinary events that are about to occur. Complications from all sides imperil the opening of the stadium— and George and Cecilia’s dreams.
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By David Celley
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 David Celley
All rights reserved.
Despite the instability of a looming revolution the government of General Antonio Galvez de Montoya in Santiago, Chile, was determined to maximize the opportunity provided by FIFA to host the World Cup Finals and build a state of the art football stadium. This allocation of resource came at the sacrifice of a host of other domestic needs which drove the opposition to the point of insurrection.
Late one afternoon a jet black limousine turned the corner off the main boulevard and proceeded down the side street towards a newly completed building. It pulled to a halt in the cul de sac in front of the building's main entrance. From the passenger side a man in a military uniform got out to open the rear door. Out popped a short man with a gray beard in a white dress military uniform replete with rows of medals, gold braid, and five stars on his epaulet. Surrounded by his security escorts the general made his way through the entrance into the building's main rotunda.
Alvarez was nervous. The perspiration on his slightly balding forehead gave away his bottled up anxiety as he peered through a window in the building. Then with the nation's leader walking into his creation he pulled himself together and took a step forward.
"There's Alvarez now, Your Excellency," one of the general's aides said. Before he could get any closer Alvarez found himself being frisked by two bodyguards.
"Senor Alvarez," the general said extending his right hand for a handshake.
"Your Excellency, I am honored to make your acquaintance." He clasped the general's hand for a firm handshake. "Allow me to show you your new office building and headquarters for the Ministry of Agriculture."
"I'd be delighted, of course," the general replied.
"I have named the complex 'Galvez Plaza' in your honor," Alvarez said. "I hate those sterile names that often are given to government buildings."
"I hate sterile names, too." Galvez's attention was then snared by a gentle sound of splashing water. "What's that gurgling noise?"
"A waterfall, Your Excellency," Alvarez replied.
"A waterfall? Inside this building?"
"It's right this way." Alvarez led General Galvez and his entourage to the center of the ground floor rotunda. There he showed them an equatorial display of flora with a four-foot high waterfall splashing into a small pool.
"Marvelous," Galvez declared as he inspected the display.
"It's visible from the front entrance," Alvarez explained. "The idea is to create a pleasant yet dynamic atmosphere for those who come to do business at Galvez Plaza."
General Galvez spent a moment admiring the display and its surroundings. "And pleasant and dynamic it is," he finally said.
"Excellency," one of his aides spoke up. "You do have a schedule to keep."
"I am aware of that, Mendoza." Then turning to Alvarez he said, "I would like a short tour of the building showing just the highlights."
"Of course, Your Excellency," Alvarez replied. "Right this way."
They ducked into the doorway of one of the office suites. "So this is where the Bureau of Cattle Production will be headquartered," Galvez said. "I think I like it. Where will the Bureau Chief's office be?"
"Straight through here, Excellency," Alvarez replied leading them in double file through the suite to the Bureau Chief's office.
Galvez looked around. "I'd like to see the minister's office next."
"Allow me to take you to the fifth floor and show you the penthouse." Alvarez rendered an unflinching eye contact as he spoke.
In spite of the lengthy security measures there was one unaccounted for individual on the premises. A man dressed in a maintenance worker's uniform carrying a tool kit opened a door on the fourth floor and stepped into the hallway. He shut the door behind him and walked down the empty hallway past some closed office suites until he reached the fourth floor rotunda. He then unlocked another door near the elevator and stepped inside. As he heard the elevator rumble past in the shaft next to the room, a wry smile crept across his face. He bent over and flipped a switch on a box that lay on the floor. Then he picked up his toolkit, checked out the hallway, and walked down to the end where he unlocked another door and stepped inside.
When the elevator reached the fifth floor, Galvez and his party stepped off directly in front of the Minister of Agriculture's office suite that occupied the entire rotunda area. As the procession marched forth in ranks two by two they wound their way past the reception area, through the minister's private secretary's office, and into the spacious office quarters reserved for the minister himself.
"So you found out that the minister has a fancy for colorful fish!" Galvez said as he scrutinized the 100-gallon fish tank separating the two offices. "Only that his secretary can see through there. He better learn to behave himself!" This remark brought a few chuckles from his aides and escorts.
"This fish tank and the paintings on the wall are designed to give the impression of windows to the outside," Alvarez explained. "The only natural light that comes into this, the center of the building, is from the skylights above."
"I'm impressed with the job you've done here, Alvarez," the general said. "I want you to know that I'm looking for a builder for Chile's new national football stadium."
Alvarez listened keenly for the general's next remarks.
"I like this desk," Galvez said. He was running his fingers along the smooth, polished finish when a thunderous explosion came up from below the reception area ripping through the penthouse suite.
Reacting swiftly Alvarez wrapped his arm around the general and stuffed him underneath the desk just as the skylight glass came crashing down around them along with most of the ceiling.
It was over quickly. The blast smashed the fish tank and ripped apart the entire wall between the offices. In addition to the skylight glass a heavy ceiling beam broke and crashed down on top of the desk. The roof opened up to the bright midday sunshine.
For nearly one full minute while the dust settled no one left alive moved. Then Alvarez got up from underneath the desk, "General Galvez! Your Excellency! Are you hurt?"
"No ... no, I'm all right," Galvez replied, panting slightly as he spoke. "My God what has happened!" As he stood up he brushed against the heavy ceiling beam. "My God! This is a disaster!" he cried. "I was standing right here, and ... and ..." He determined that the beam would have crushed him. A moment passed as he got a hold of himself. Then he said, "I would have been killed! It was you who saved me, Alvarez."
"Actually, it was the desk that saved us both, Your Excellency," Alvarez replied, not willing to glorify this accomplishment.
Galvez dusted off his dress whites. "I do not take such matters lightly. I intend to see that you are rewarded for this. I will forever be grateful to you for your swift action today."
"I am so sorry for this mess that is here," Alvarez said. "The years it took me to build this—I wish I knew who did this, I'd ..."
"Oh, I know who did this. I know damn well who did this," Galvez declared. "It was some communist bastard who thinks this will intimidate me." Facing the middle of the damage he yelled, "So you think you can scare me! I'll kill every damn one of you. I'll mop the streets with you—all of you. The rats will drink your blood! What's left of you won't be fit for dogs to eat! Do you hear me! Do you hear me!"
In the months that followed the attempt on his life General Galvez made the necessary political moves to position himself as "president for life" in Chile. President Galvez then made good on his pledge to reward the builder who saved his life. He summoned Sergio Alvarez and his family to a formal ceremony at the palacio in central Santiago to announce Sergio to the news media as the builder of the new national football stadium.
In the palacio's hall of mirrors (a smaller, less ornate replica of its namesake at Versailles) the Alvarez family waited for President Galvez along with four cabinet ministers, a dozen members of Congress, a sundry group of staffers and security, and several members of the news media.
Finally, in a spectacle resembling a royal debut, the door at the left end of the hall opened and Galvez with his personal entourage of security and cronies made their way inside. He bypassed all the customary formalities and went directly to the Alvarez family.
"Senor Alvarez." Galvez began as he clasped the builder's hand. "I am very happy to see you again."
"Thank you. Senor Presidente. Needless-to-say I am very happy to see you again, and to see that you are well."
"I am well, thanks. And this is your beautiful wife." He extended his hand to Veronica Alvarez clasping it gently.
"I am honored to meet you, Senor Presidente," she said.
"And your daughter and sons," Galvez remarked shaking hands and exchanging greetings with each.
"You are a model family for all people in Chile to admire," Galvez said. After dispatching with the salutations he strode directly to the podium.
Addressing the audience and the TV cameras Galvez began by saying, "It has been eleven years since my ascent to the pinnacle of this great nation. Since that day we have made tremendous strides in demonstrating to the world that we are an advanced, progressive peoples. It is my intention to continue this progress by proving that our country is a happy place to live as well as a prosperous one.
"Our national fortunes have brought us the rights to the World Cup Tournament. The finals will be held here in Santiago in a brand new, state-of-the-art football stadium that will be built specifically for that purpose.
"Today I want to introduce to you my special friend Sergio Alvarez, whom I have chosen because of his skills as a builder, to be the general contractor for the new national stadium."
There was a brief round of polite applause as the focus of attention shifted momentarily to Sergio.
"And further," Galvez continued, "because of his organizational abilities as a businessman I am appointing him to be chairman of the Stadium Commission which will manage the new national stadium during the World Cup Tournament, and for all events held there afterward."
Although he beat odds of 300-1 to land this huge project, he realized that his efforts to save Galvez from death or injury played just as important a part as all his skills and resources as a builder. But that was how Galvez did business—rewarding people he trusted.CHAPTER 2
Sergio took his new appointment and assignment with him on a trip to the Caribbean city of Cartegena, Colombia, to attend the Ninth Annual Pan American Building Designer Awards Convention. His intentions were to seek out some ideas for his newly acquired project. Through aisle after aisle of the massive convention center he wandered until he came upon an exhibit that impressed him so much he couldn't take his eyes off it. A young architect from the San Francisco Bay area set up a complete working model of a football stadium. It was so meticulously built and accurate in detail Sergio thought that it could win the top prize.
"Hello, would you like to see the stadium in operation?" the architect asked him finally.
"You mean ... it works?" Sergio asked. His curiosity was stimulated. A few other passers by also stopped in interest.
"Sure, let me show you." The slender architect was about Sergio's height and bore an irrepressible smile.
"But, of course," Sergio said. He watched intently as the young man reached over to the control box and pressed a button. A clear plastic dome slid up across the top of the stadium covering it completely. "Now it's completely covered enabling football, soccer, or any other sport to be played indoors in case of bad weather."
He pushed a toggle switch and then pressed the button again. The dome slowly opened back up.
"The playing surface can be switched from a football layout to tennis, for example, by shifting some of the grandstands. Watch."
The smiling architect with curly sandy-colored hair pressed another button and a portion of the seating structure of the model popped up in the middle of the playing field creating a smaller lateral playing surface with one of the end zones which could be configure for tennis, basketball, volleyball, or other indoor sports.
"And there's one last thing to show you," he said. He pressed another toggle switch near the base of the control unit and the miniature lighting system went on. The crowd of onlookers that formed up to watch the little demonstration let out with a spontaneous applause.
"This is amazing!" Sergio exclaimed. "Do you actually think that you could build such a stadium as this, with the dome moving back and forth like that?"
"Maybe. What's needed is the right type of material for the dome which would be tough enough to stand up to severe weather, but still light enough to be moved from side to side."
Sergio sized up the model trying in his mind to bring it up to scale. "How big would this be if you built it?"
"The seating capacity would be about 75,000 for football and about 35,000 for the short end configuration for tennis or basketball. By the way, my name is George King." He stuck out his right hand for a handshake.
"Oh, of course. I'm Sergio Alvarez, and I am very happy to meet you." He reached into his shirt pocket for a business card and handed it to George.
"Thank you. Here, let me give you one of my cards."
Sergio pulled out a pair of half-glasses which he needed for reading. "Ah yes, you are George ... Anthony ..."
"That's George Anthony King."
"Yes. I see. I would be honored if you would join me for dinner tonight, George Anthony. I would like to talk with you further about your stadium. Ah, where are you staying in Cartegena?"
"I am at the Caribbe Hotel."
"Perfect! I am staying there also. Then can I meet you in the hotel lobby for dinner at, say eight o'clock?"
"Yes, I'd like that very much. I'll look forward to meeting you there. Thanks a lot."
"It's my pleasure."
The hotel lobby was the most luxurious one in the city. An exquisite multifaceted crystal chandelier hung over a sunken conversation sofa arrangement that surrounded a mahogany coffee table that had a marble inlay. The registration desk itself was solid marble fitted on top of hand carved mahogany. The area was surrounded by a Roman style colonnade with statues strategically placed for effect. George arrived in the lobby at precisely eight PM. Sergio met him only a few minutes later.
"Well, how are you my friend?" Sergio said extending his hand for a shake.
"Fine, thanks," George replied. "I'm just enjoying the lobby of this hotel. It looks as though they spared no expense when they put it together."
"It is like that throughout the entire ground floor. I know the people who built it. There is a fine restaurant down this way past the little shops."
They walked under the entranceway to the gift shop mall and down to their right towards the Italian restaurant at the far end. The mall itself resembled a quaint European village complete with street lamps and a fountain that adorned a small plaza area.
The waiter took their dinner order. "Tell me something my friend," Sergio began as the waiter walked away. "What makes you want to build a stadium like the one you have in the design festival?"
"My firm wants to expand the scope of our work to include things such as office plazas, hotel-condominium projects, and other jobs on a bigger scale than what we've been doing."
"Have you designed anything big like a stadium before?"
"There was a twin 20-story office building complex in the Century City section of Los Angeles. Not quite like a stadium, but still a major job."
The waiter poured their first glass of wine. "Well, I propose a toast to you and your stadium display. I hope you win first place."
"Thank you very much." They poised their wine glasses towards each other without clanking them together and took a drink.
"Now, another question if I may," Sergio continued. "Are you married?"
"No, not yet anyway."
"Well, I suppose it doesn't matter. You are still young. I would guess ... thirty-five."
"That's a very good guess. Actually I just turned thirty-four."
"Yes, I can see the youth in your eyes. You are also a very sturdy person—able to work long hours."
As the waiter began serving salads Sergio sipped from his wine glass and said, "Tell me how you got started in architecture."
Excerpted from GALVEZ STADIUM by David Celley. Copyright © 2014 David Celley. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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