Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has identified a site where it intends to construct a new state- of- the- art stadium that conforms to Fifa and Caf standards.
This appears to be a deliberate move meant to preserve the iconic Barbourfields Stadium.
It has also emerged that installation of new bucket seats at Barbourfields Stadium, one of the key requirements by football regulating authorities for a stadium to be compliant with set requirements, will see its carrying capacity reduced to 12 000 from the present 24 000.
Chief director in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Benson Dube recently stated that the Government will not allow Barbourfields Stadium to be demolished because its sentimental value to local football did not make room for destruction.
He said the facility will only be improved to meet Fifa and Caf standards, but if need be, a new site will have to be identified to build a new stadium.
The issue of dressing rooms makes it almost inevitable for the VIP grandstand to be demolished.
According to Fifa standards, dressing rooms must measure 240-square metres, but Barbourfields Stadium dressing rooms are just 35-square metres.
On Tuesday Caf president Ahmad Ahmad told journalists from various media houses across Africa that there was no going back on standardising stadiums on the continent.
He warned that they might infact introduce stricter conditions in view of the Covid-19 pandemic as players, officials and spectators’ safety had to be prioritised.
According to a progress report on the refurbishment of Barbourfields Stadium, the city’s director of Housing and Community Services Dictor Khumalo said Government had allocated council $13, 4 million towards the refurbishment work.
He said so far council had procured and installed air conditioners, refrigerators, television sets, furniture and a conference room sound system as per requirements.
There have also been renovations to the changing rooms, press conference room, meeting room, media room, match officials room, lounges as well as general painting of the stadium, including public seating areas.
Upgrades had also been done to the dugouts and signage leading up to and within the stadium had been installed. There was an estimated budget of $15 million and about $12,9 million had been spent.
According to council, outstanding works at the stadium include floodlights since the required 1200 Lux had not been reached.
There is also need for work on the changing rooms since the renovated ones were said to be too small and designs had been made according to Fifa standards with council noting that it required demolition and new construction which needs a lot of money.
A budget of $74 million was needed for outstanding Phase One works.
The council said it also needed $166 million to supply and fit individual numbered seats which will reduce carrying capacity to 12 000.
Councillor Felix Mhaka enquired if the city had plans to construct a new modern stadium.
His proposal was to demolish either Luveve or White City Stadium.
Councillor Tinevimbo Maposa supported the idea of a new stadium.