Siaya county governor Cornel Rasanga announced that his county will be constructing a 20,000 seat stadium. This is a commendable initiative by the governor.
“I today presided over the contract signing of the construction of a 20,000-seater capacity ultra-modern stadium at the Siaya County Headquarters. ” he said on his social media pages on October 30 2018.
Prototypes of the proposed stadium were posted on various social media pages.
Rasanga went on to explain the rationale behind constructing the stadium.
“The construction will seek to increase access for all Siaya citizens to modern sporting facilities required for quality sports talent development and exposure. The stadium will also provide international sports arena for major national and international events which will attract revenue and create direct and indirect employment opportunities for Siaya County residents. The stadium shall also lend itself to socio-cultural events, gatherings and conferences. ” he continued.
It is refreshing to see that governors are now realizing that sporting facilities can be an economic engine for a county.
He then urged the public to participate in the construction process.
“I encourage members of the public to fully participate in the construction process and frequently report to me the progress of the construction works because these are public funds that must be properly utilised with the vigilance of the members of the public”. he noted
It is with this last point in mind that I would like to point some things out to Mr. Rasanga
1. Running Tracks are expensive to install and maintain
Information that is readily available on the internet indicates that the cheapest running tracks cost US $108,000 to install. This is approximately Ksh 110,000,000. These cheap running tracks usually have a surface life of about 5 years. The cost of maintenance over the 5 years is approximately another Ksh 100,000,000 ! Tracks with a longer surface life cost more.
And the Chinese construction company will be happy to be paid extra money to maintain the running track for 5 years and then install a new one in the future.
2. There is no use for a new running track in Siaya
Athletics events are never ever held in Siaya. Yours truly has followed local athletics for decades an does not recall any significant athletics event being held in Siaya. And this county is not exactly a hotbed of athletics talent.
if no significant athletics events are held here and there is scarcely any athletics talent to develop then why spend money on an expensive new track that will cost a lot of money to maintain?
Perhaps the only athletics events held in Siaya are the secondary school events. These can continue to be held in the grass running tracks that already exist at various schools.
3. There is no return in Investment
In Kenya, nobody pays money to watch athletics. All events are free entry. This is what the public has come to expect. Even global events that are held in Kenya such as the IAAF Junior championships were free entry. Therefore the running track has no chance of paying for itself. In other words, the track will cost a lot of money to install and maintain and yet will not bring in any money.
4. Running tracks ruin the atmosphere at a stadium
The best atmospheres in stadia are created when the players are close to the fans. Installing a running track puts significant distance between the players and the fans. The modern trend in stadia is to completely eliminate the running track so as to put the crowd closer to the players thus creating an electric atmosphere.Such is the case at the Safari sevens event. Putting the fans closer to the players also results in much better sight lines for the fans and a better viewing experience.
In Europe today, stadia with running tracks are no longer used for football. This is because they add an expense for which there is no return on investment and also ruin the fan viewing experience.
Rather than athletics, Siaya county should focus on events that can generate revenue for the county. Football is top of the list. Rugby is another crowd puller. An annual sevens event held in Siaya can bring much needed revenue to local traders.
Do not be conned
The prototypes of the Siaya stadiums that have been posted online certainly do not look large enough to seat 20,000 fans. Below are what 20,000 seats stadiums look like. One without a running track and one witha running track
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