Building work on a £700m state-of-the-art sports complex in Cardiff Bay has finally got off the blocks.
The sports village will be built on the Cardiff Bay waterfront
The first steps in constructing the 50m Cardiff International swimming pool were taken on Wednesday, as the huge 10-year project began in earnest.
When complete, the sports village will also be the new home to the Cardiff Devils ice hockey team and a £14m "snow dome".
A hotel, conference facility and casino, as well as shops, pubs, and 450 apartments, are also planned for the development, which will create thousands of jobs.
It is the latest major construction project in Cardiff Bay, alongside the £104m Wales Millennium Centre and the £41m Welsh assembly debating chamber, as well as several waterfront housing developments.
Last year, a Welsh assembly investigation expressed concern that the sports village may not provide the best value for public money.
The sports village will regenerate the formerly derelict Ferry Road site on the waterfront of the 500-acre lake created by the Cardiff Bay Barrage.
Work on the Cardiff International Pool is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.
The £11m National Pool opened in Swansea earlier in 2003
Swimming facilities in Cardiff were reduced when the Empire Pool - were the Empire Games were held in the 1950s - was demolished in 1998 to make way for the city's Millennium Stadium and the Millennium Plaza leisure complex.
The scheme has been granted outline planning permission and the Welsh assembly, the Welsh Development Agency and the Environment Agency are all involved in the project.
Cardiff Council Leader Russell Goodway, said he was delighted that work was "now visibly under way".
"This is a major step forward and demonstrates the council's commitment to seeing that the project, which is of huge economic and social benefit to the city, goes ahead," he said.
Councillor Marion Drake, deputy leader for culture and sport, said she believed the facilities would stand comparison with the best in Europe.
"This is an important day for all of us in Cardiff, with the promise of access to a first class sport and leisure complex in less than two years' time," she said.
An £11m Olympic-size national swimming pool for Wales opened in Swansea earlier this year.