Sports Minister Enock Chihana’s challenge that government can offer Malawi’s Super League teams pieces of land to construct own stadia is unrealistic due to exorbitant costs of financing such facilities, it has been established.
Weekend Nation has established that a modest stadium with a capacity of 8 000 to 15 000 costs a minimum of K50 million (about $125 000) whereas others can go up to billions of kwacha.
For example, the 8 000-seater Balaka Stadium with facilities such as covered stand, VIP stand and toilets, cost K55 million (about $137 500) few years ago, according to former district commissioner for Balaka, Charles Mhone.
Another example is that of the 6 000-seater Dedza Stadium which cost K44 612 759 (about $111 531), according to Dedza Town Assembly urban profile report of between 2007 and 2012 published onwww.scotland-malawipartnership.org/documents.
The stadium has six entrances, one kitchen, four toilets, VIP stand and car parking space, among other facilities. At the prevailing economic rate, such stadium should cost even more, construction experts noted.
In an e-mailed response during the week, Mkaka Civil Construction managing director Newton Kambala could not give a straightforward answer as to how much a modest stadium would cost.
“That would require more information. We don’t know the facilities and the standard of finishing we are talking about here. For example, an upgrade of the Kamuzu Stadium pitch (which Mkaka did) cost Fifa about half a million US dollars. Yet a similar size pitch can easily cost $10 000 depending on finishing/what is required to be done,” Kambala explained.
Malawi Institute of Engineers’ president Dr Matthews Mtumbuka also said it was difficult to make stadium cost estimations “without knowledge of full requirements.”
Silver Strikers chairperson Dr McDonald Mafuta Mwale said it was unrealistic to expect a domestic football team to afford stadium construction, adding that the Bankers were lucky to have inherited a stadium constructed by their sponsors, the Reserve Bank of Malawi.
“It is just a non-starter. Not even a company can build a stadium. The interest is not just there. They probably need financial assistance and it has to be huge,” Mwale said during the week.
Chihana has been challenging teams to stop relying on the Kamuzu Stadium, saying it was not government’s responsibility to construct stadiums. He says such venues are for all public events.
“Where have you heard of teams such as Zanaco and Zesco [in Zambia] calling the Independence Stadium as their home ground? You cannot call home a facility you do not own,” Chihana said at a Super League gala last month. He was reacting to an uproar that ensued when Kamuzu Stadium was closed last year.
Concerned Supporters forced government to reopen the condemned Blantyre arena, which CAF and Fifa have since struck off their lists of international football match venues.
FAM now has Civo Stadium as its venue for international matches.