The new $70 million (K26.6 billion) stadium being constructed in Lilongwe will have an extendable roof, state-of-the-art electronic and electrical equipment, an electronic scoreboard and 110 closed-circuit television cameras plus a posh VIP lounge, Weekend Nation has established.
Once completed, the stadium will also have 85 percent covered stands with inbuilt floodlights. But the challenge is that such stadiums face hitches when it comes to maintenance by the host country due to financial challenges.
According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Beijing says while it has constructed 51 stadiums in Africa, not many countries ably maintain them.
In an exclusive interview with Weekend Nation chief architect in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Knight Munthali said maintaining such a facility needs alot of money.
“Government will have to allocate a substantial amount of money towards the maintenance of the stadium. It will be expensive to maintain such a modern facility. I can’t determine as to the exact figure now, but definitely millions of kwacha should be allocated annually,” said Munthali.
The Chinese constructors have set November 2015 as year for completion of construction, but it might be through earlier than scheduled.
The new stadium will have functioning turnstiles to count fans entering the facility.
The Lilongwe Stadium could spell an end to high-profile international games in Blantyre, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda hinted last month.
Malawi has failed to maintain Kamuzu Stadium to the extent that the world football governing body, Fifa in 2011, declared the facility unfit to host international games. As a result, some stands were cordoned off, cutting the capacity from 40 000 to 25 000.
According to Kamuzu Stadium manager Charles Mhango, monthly expenditure at the stadium is in the region of K900 000 ($2 368).
“This covers staff salaries and, electricity and water bills, disinfectants for toilets, pitch maintenance and other issues,” said Mhango.
Despite Parliament allocating K250 million (about $658 000) in three consecutive financial years for rehabilitation works of Kamuzu Stadium, the facility remains in a dilapidated state.
On whether Capital Hill has the capacity to maintain the modern facility, Sports Minister Grace Chiumia told Weekend Nation on Wednesday that government will conduct an orientation programme on how to manage it.
“It is a huge task to run such a modern facility. The facility as of now is still in the hands of the Ministry of Lands and they will make a formal handover next year when we will send our officials to China for orientation,” said Chiumia.
She said government will manage the stadium, but in line with the Public Private Partnership (PPP) concept, they might let a private firm run the facility as a business venture.
Chiumia said her ministry will lobby Parliament for funds in the 2015 budget to cater for maintenance operations, adding expenditure on staff and other activities can add up to K1.7 million ($4 473) a month.
“Since completion of the stadium will be next year, operations will commence the same year. We will include in the budget the allocation towards maintenance of this facility. We cannot afford to let it go to ruins,” said Chiumia.
Unlike Malawi, Kenya’s Chinese-built Kasarani Stadium under Moi International Sports Centre has a complete hotel, the Stadion Hotel, and other activities take place there as an income-generating activity.
Kenya’s Sports Stadiums Management Board (SSMB) chief executive officer Gabriel Komora told a South African newspaper The Mail & Guardian recently that they have to be dynamic to remain in business.
He said there are numerous events taking place, including swimming, meetings, concerts and tourists using the stadium’s three-star hotel.
In South Africa, the ultra-modern stadiums built to host the 2010 World Cup were used to host the 2013 Afcon tournament, but according to The Mail & Guardian, the operation and maintenance costs for Cape Town Stadium alone was $5.7 million annually as of last year.
It is only one of the 10 World Cup stadiums built and there are just not enough regular crowd-pulling events on the calendar to make them viable, meaning the taxpayer is ultimately burdened with the bill.