The Sunday News
BARBOURFIELDS’ sentimental value to local football history does not make room for its destruction, a Government official has said.
Principal director in the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation chief director, Dr Benson Dube said the iconic stadium will only be improved to meet Fifa and Caf standards with a new stadium being built if there is need for a bigger one.
Speaking during a tour of the stadium to assess the ongoing renovations, Dube said they considered the stadium’s close link with Highlanders and felt it should be retained as it with only improvements being made.
“Highlanders’ history is intertwined with that of BF for a better part of its existence hence we are aware of the sentimental value has not just to the club but football history in the country. We are of the opinion that if our efforts to make the required improvements cannot be done, structurally, then we would have to build a new stadium for Bulawayo,” he said.
“Remember BF was constructed just over 60 years ago and it would be difficult for us to make it fully meet 2020 specifications. There are sections we can modify there are some that structurally we cannot alter and if Fifa are not happy then as Government we will construct a new stadium for the city.”
Dube said they were pleased with the improvements that have been made so far although progress had been slowed down by the Covid-19 lockdown.
He said most areas of concern had been addressed with the expansion of the dressing rooms being a sticking point while there were concerns of capacity reduction due to the installation of bucket seats.
Dube said he was pleased with the condition of the pitch which has greatly improved while there is marked positive change to the flood lights.
Project manager, Engineer Thembinkosi Ncube revealed the capacity of the stadium will be reduced by almost half when they install buckets seats, from 23 000 to 13 000 spectators.
He said using calculations, using conventional single mold bucket seats, show that capacity will be greatly reduced prompting Dube to urge them to opt for the foldable bucket seats.
“Bucket seats are one critical area that has been highlighted as a requirement by the Fifa/Caf officials and we just have to install them but the downside is the reduction of the stadium capacity. It is something we have to live with.
“However, we have to opt for the foldable model that will allow for an increased capacity rather than the conventional ones. A reduction of more than half the current capacity would not be ideal,” he said.
Ncube said outstanding areas include the turnstiles, which had to be electronic, search bay areas, CCTV.
The parking area behind the Mpilo Stand has been done with the one behind the Soweto stand still being worked on.
Zimbabwe has been racing against time in order to meet the Caf requirements after local stadia was barred from hosting the body’s sanctioned matches citing failure by the venues to meet minimum criteria.