[UPDATE: Flight delayed] Tens of thousands of Costa Rica fans expected in La Sabana Park on Tuesday for La Sele return
UPDATE, Tuesday: La Sele’s flight is delayed by two hours, according to the Costa Rica Football Federation. Events downtown will begin at 2 p.m., and the team will arrive shortly after.
Costa Rica will welcome the history-making World Cup squad back home at 2:23 p.m. on Tuesday.
President Luis Guillermo Solís will greet the team at Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside the capital. Players and coaches will then be escorted to the east side of La Sabana Park – in western San José – for a ceremony honoring their performance in Brazil.
Tens of thousands of fans are expected to attend the ceremony. The government has granted most public employees the afternoon off to join in the celebrations, and the city will shut down roads through Paseo Colón (see map below) on Tuesday morning.
Security is a prime concern for organizers after two stabbings and almost 100 arrests marred World Cup festivities late last week. The Public Security Ministry will have 500 police officers on duty in the area where the event will take place. The San José Municipality also will have 300 of their own officers patrolling the venue.
“I want to have a respectful commemoration where the entire country can celebrate like crazy the triumphs of the Sele,” Solís said on Monday.
Despite overwhelming odds, La Sele prevailed in a group of three former World Cup champions, then defeated Greece in the Round of 16 stage in order to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in the country’s history. Costa Rica was one of five teams remaining in Brazil when the Netherlands eliminated the Ticos on penalty kicks on Saturday.
The strong showing in Brazil has earned La Sele a reputation as giant killers. And the country has planned an enthusiastic reception for their return. National bands will play music for spectators before the team arrives at the site of the ceremony — in front of the statue of León Cortés in La Sabana Park. The motorcade is expected to arrive there between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., although events at La Sabana should kick off at 2 p.m.
Preparations for the festivities already have begun, with the road in front of the statue closing Monday night. Access from the airport on General Cañas Highway will be restricted starting at 10:30 a.m to plan for La Sele’s motorcade. At noon, authorities will close Calle 42 and Paseo Colón — beginning at the National Children’s Hospital and continuing to La Sabana east.
General Cañas Highway will reopen after the team arrives in La Sabana. Streets in Paseo Colón will stay closed until the event has dissipated, Police Chief Juan José Andrade said.
“We want to ensure the activity goes smoothly,” he added.