Named after Jordan’s third monarch, King Hussein Sports City sits crumbling in the center of Amman. Drained swimming pools, empty gymnasiums, and miles of overgrown track lie nestled between two major thoroughfares in the central neighborhood of Shmeisani. Peeling walls painted with slogans entreating readers to behave in a sporting manner surround the formerly pristine, top-of-the-line complex.
Instead of harboring the physical activity its name implies, this decrepit monument to fitness now provides a venue for friends and family to gather outdoors in dusty patches of shade. Officially or otherwise, Sport City has come to provide much needed respite from the incessant sight and sound of Amman’s traffic, thanks to its anomalous swath of publicly-accessible land in Amman, where parks and public spaces are a rarity.
The most popular pastimes include enjoying picnics or smoking hookah – a far cry from the vigorous pursuits the nation’s top athletes once undertook here. In fact, visitors to today’s Sport City expressly seek out its arenas with the intention to avoid working up a sweat. They simply want a place to chill away from life’s daily races.
After strolling through the complex, one is left awestruck at the amount of capital the government once poured into the infrastructure project. Yet it serves a more important role to the citizens of Amman in its semi-abandoned state than it ever did as a sporting complex.
Know Before You Go
Most of Amman's cab drivers will easily be able to easily navigate to the entrance of the complex after being prompted with the phrase "Sports City"