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The sorry state of Lagos National Stadium

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The Lagos National Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Surulere, Lagos State, Nigeria, which comprises an Olympic size swimming arena and a multipurpose arena used for basketball, volleyball, table tennis, wrestling and boxing matches and other sport related activities .

It was used mostly for football matches until 2001. It hosted several international competitions including the 1980 African Cup of Nations final, the 2000 African Cup of Nations final, and FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

It also served as the main stadium for the 1973 All-Africa Games. It was closed and abandoned in the year 2004.

When the stadium was built in 1972, it had a capacity of 55,000. The capacity was then reduced to 45,000 in 1999.

The current state of the national stadium is in a depreciation state owing to the fact that this stadium happens to be the first national stadium in Nigeria.

The state in which it is now has gone from its days of glory to days of grass and habitat for event centres, night clubs, drinking bars, as against its primary function which is supposed to be a home for sporting activities.

The indoor sports centre which is used by almost all indoor sporting activities happened to be the only arena partially maintained.

This is because the main users which are the basketball federation take out time to clean its surroundings.

Speaking to BusinessDay a representative who chose to be anonymous said that “if one had come into this indoor sports say 5 months ago one would not be able to breath because of the stench of urine and faeces.”

The court in the arena is nothing to write home about as it doesn’t meet the standard of the international level.

BusinessDay also gathered that this indoor sports centre is been given to people for churches and events at the weekend to generate revenue, but yet this revenues are not used by the sports federation to maintain the centre.

BusinessDay also gathered that the roofing sheets of the indoor sports centre are leaking thereby allowing the rains destroy the floors of the court.

The basketball still makes use of analogue forms of time keeping and player substitutions.

The basketball federation stated that that there were moves by them to the sports federation to hand over the indoor sports hall to them for sole ownership so as to make the management of the centre more effective but were denied the request.

BusinessDay took a tour to the boxing gym to find out that the state of the gym is in disarray, where the floors and roofs are all turn out no seats for spectators and even the rings are shaky; the place has been turned into in place for packing unused woods for building.

Boxing in Nigeria is a sport that has helped to place the name of this country on the lips of people all over the world especially in the last concluded Rio Olympics where Efe Agbaja knocked out his opponent in the first round, this is to show how much boxing should be paid attention to as many boxers are beginning to emerge.

This cannot be possible as the case maybe because the boxing arena in the Lagos state national stadium is not well equipped.

The surrounding looks more like a deserted area. The boxing federation has helped to reduce it by erecting buildings around it but still lacks proper maintenance.

BusinessDay also took a tour to the soccer pitch which holds more history than other sporting activity in the stadium has seen its last of glory days, a pitch that formerly used to host international matches is no longer used to even host secondary schools matches.

The entrance gate into the pitch has continued to remain locked, thereby restricting athletes from training on the pitch; the grass is no longer maintained as some spots are found without grasses.

The seats for spectators are no longer seats as every seat there has been damaged or are left without seats, the roofs on the stand are all pulled off as spectators would be at risk to heavy down pour of rain if a match is held in that field.

Nigeria supporters used to be regarded as one of the best supporters in the world; they would cheer the players on to victory. This field used to be a home to the Super Eagles class of 1994 up till the class of 2000 where they would intrigue fans with their beautiful skills and passion for the game.

This cannot be said of the latter as the stadium is now being used for different purposes such as churches, events and even mechanic shops have inhabited the stadium environment.

Under the seats of the spectators seat are used for mechanic shops and spots for petty trading.

But this depreciation of this stadium has not stopped businesses from opening up and flourishing as athletes still patronizes these shops and even outsiders.

BusinessDay found out that these shops around the stadium such as bars, clubs, restaurants, fitness kits shops etc. pay rent every year at an average of N200, 000 and over 50 shops are located within the premises of the stadium.

Monies generated from these shops and events being held in the stadium should be used for the maintenance of the facility.

Recall the federal government wanted to hand over to the state government for maintenance but this act was thwarted for reasons yet unknown.

The stadium media centre now looks like a place where reptiles and insects now resides as no sign of human activity has been seen in that area the place looked deserted.

Even the entrance of the stadium does not have a welcome look as all the paints on the building from interior to the exterior all look washed.

This kind of appearance can chase away foreign investors from putting their monies into sponsoring a team that is resident in the stadium.

BusinessDay spoke to some aged athletes who had made the stadium their home since the inception; they expressed their disappointment on the mismanagement of the facility which in one time gave hope to their careers.

The idea of the stadium should be a place where athletes or aspiring athletes come in to improve their talents, but in recent day the reverse is the case as athletes no longer have good facilities to use and even the ones available are not properly maintained.

This poor development on the national stadium has brought about negative implications to sports in the country, as many aspiring athletes who reside in Lagos and its environs that are not opportune to access other national stadia, are deprived to gain whatever benefits the athletes over there enjoy.

 

Jonathan Aderoju

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