Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre is expected to reopen by October following the purchase of an artificial turf from the United States of America.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa announced during the week that government has paid $500 000 (about K360 million) for the turf from Washington DC and it is expected in the country in under four weeks.
The minister said: “As I speak, we have since paid $500 000 for the turf. That will take about eight weeks for it to be shipped to Malawi.”
He said meanwhile, work on the stadium is set to start this month on stands and other structures at the facility.
“The Ministry of Transport and Public Works will be doing renovations on the structure such as the stands and all the other facilities at the Kamuzu Stadium. Yesterday [Tuesday], we looked at the bills of quantities which fall within the budgeted figure. So, things are moving,” he said.
Completion of the installation of the turf and the renovations is set to conclude by end September, according to Mussa.
“All things being equal, by September end we should be done with the renovations at Kamuzu Stadium,” he said.
But this is not the first time government has announced that the stadium will be renovated and re-opened.
In April, Mussa promised to renovate and re-open the stadium within a month, but nothing happened.
This time, the minister has pleaded for patience from football fans.
“There is no short-cut to what I have explained. All I can ask is for the rest of the football lovers to be patient and have the trust and confidence in their sports minister and government,” he said.
But Mussa said the stadium renovation does not mean government has abandoned plans to construct a new stadium in Blantyre.
Meanwhile, Blantyre-based clubs have welcomed the development.
Nyasa Big Bullets general secretary Albert Chigoga said: “This is sweet news. The closing of the stadium has hit us so much. We have to play our matches outside Blantyre which is costly.Our performance has also been affected. We can only keep our fingers crossed.”
The closure of Kamuzu Stadium has also affected gate collections.
Last season, Super League gate collections revenue hit a record K420 579 639 of which K232 765 085 was from Kamuzu Stadium.
“The re-opening of the stadium will mean a lot to us as well,” said Sulom general secretary Williams Banda. n