Lack of high-profile football matches is greatly affecting revenue at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe.
During an international and local matches top clubs— Nyasa Big Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers—the stadium could rake in between K8 million and K10 million per match. But according to the facility’s manager MacMillan Mwale, the facility now makes an average K3 million or a maximum of K15 million a month.
“Last year, we only hosted four high-profile matches and this year we are yet to have a big match. This has greatly affected revenue and we are mostly depending on rental and advertisement,” he said.
The matches included the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the Flames and Morocco, the Airtel Top 8 final between Silver and Karonga United and the Fisd Challenge Cup quarter-final between Silver and Bullets.
BNS made more money when Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre was closed three years ago for renovations, a development that led to big matches being played there.
Mwale said they are now diversifying by, among others, courting companies to place adverts and rent corporate boxes “and the response has been encouraging”.
He said each company pays K10 million for a six-month visibility at the stadium.
“We also have conference rooms, events rooms that can be used for weddings or cultural shows and even restaurants. The place is a haven for many activities, but unfortunately not many people take advantage of that, ” said Mwale.
He said they charge K100 000 to K500 000 depending on the size of the room.
The facility has also been facing challenges such as water and electricity cuts due to huge unpaid bills, thus inconveniencing clients and spectators.
The situation led to government intervention by settling a K148 million outstanding water bill t accumulated over three years.
“There was a period when there was no electricity and water and we lost business as many potential clients were reluctant to use our facilities. But we thank government for settling the utility bills, ” said Mwale.
He said water bills average K12 million per month and to light up the facility they spend between K3 million and K6 million, while maintenance of the pitches and other facilities requires about K3 million.
Mwale said on average BNS’ monthly expenses amount to K20 million against a provision of K5 million.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso has since said they plan to construct boreholes as a way of cutting costs.
“We thought of constructing wells to water the pitches and for other cleaning errands. It’s not like we are doing away with Lilongwe Water Board, but we want to reduce expenses, ” he said.
In a related development, the Chinese Government, through Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group, has started rehabilitating some sections of the stadium which were in a bad state.
The areas include the VIP section where seats are being replaced.
“Work is in progress now. As you can see, new seats are being installed to reflect the status of VIP,” said Mwale.
The stadium was constructed with a $70 million (about K29 billion) loan from the Peoples Republic of China in 2010.
Government has since started repaying the loan according to Ministry of Finance.
“Repayment already started. Of course, the repayment being talked about is on principal, otherwise interest service started soon after we started drawing from the loan,” the ministry’s spokesperson Davis Sado told Weekend Nation.