46 orange trees
His first step was to secure the assistance of Paraguayan President Eduardo Schaerer, an enthusiast of the game who donated his own land for the project. This was followed by the purchase of an additional plot for a modest sum. “The levelling and cleaning of the two plots began on 9 September 1914,” relates Pinho in his detailed memoirs. The foreman, Antonio Ortega, a council employee, was supplied with seven machetes, five axes, two files, a pitchfork and a gang of 8-12 labourers made up of inmates from the local prison whom the chief of police, Manuel Balteiro, was kind enough to provide.
Further more, Eduardo Recalde, a clerk from the local council donated “46 orange trees to line the avenue that leads to the future stadium”; a Spanish citizen named Rodriguez successfully drilled a well in the hard red earth and another gentleman provided a donkey and cart for transport. Although the league opened its own brickworks to reduce the cost of building materials and Balteiro reinforced the gang of prison conscripts, there were still many years of struggle on minimal resources. In 1923, Pinho resigned his post, regretting “not having been able to finish the work” even though the venue had been inaugurated as the Puerto Sajonia stadium at the end of 1917. Thereafter, the stadium underwent constant renovation, as each new incoming president added or improved a particular aspect of it.
In 1924, full of admiration for Uruguay’s sensational triumph at the Olympic Games in Paris, the league’s governors decided to rename it the Uruguay stadium. This decision was also influenced by a less poetic factor: that year it was Paraguay’s turn to host the Copa America. Since the stadium was small and lacked the necessary facilities for such an event, it was decided that the tournament would be organized and played in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, in order to harness the euphoria created by Uruguay’s Olympic triumph. The public flocked to the tournament, producing excellent financial results which enabled the work and improvements on the stadium to continue.