- The backlash caused by the citizens, has also been brought to his notice
By JAMILA HUSAIN
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will consult senior cricketers before making a final decision on whether the construction of a new international cricket stadium in Homagama will go ahead, after the project received a severe backlash on social media in recent days, with citizens questioning if this was the need of the hour.
The Daily Mirror learns that some senior players have objected to the construction of the stadium at the moment as it is a time when the country is trying to revive itself economically following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The backlash caused by the citizens, has also been bought to the Prime Minister’s attention.The land in Homagama handed over to Sri Lanka cricket, was done so with the aim of transforming the area into a sports city which will also include a sports university. However, plans were halted after the spread of the pandemic crippled the economy. Former MP Namal Rajapaksa told Daily Mirror that while infrastructure developments was vital for any sport, the construction of a new cricket stadium should not be a priority presently as the country’s economy was affected by the pandemic. “The authorities must always involve all stakeholders and get their opinion before taking the final decision,” Namal said.
His brother Yoshitha Rajapaksa, on his official twitter account called upon Sri Lanka Cricket to put the funds to construct the new stadium to better use such as further developing the sport by launching projects in areas that lack infrastructure which will enable to hunt for more talent for the sport. Former cricketer Mahela Jayawardena has also criticized the move on his social media account stating Sri Lanka does not even play enough international cricket or domestic first class cricket in the existing stadiums.
“Do we need another one,?”, the former player questioned.The Sri Lankan government recently announced that it is aiming to construct the country’s largest cricket stadium in Homagama in collaboration with Sri Lanka Cricket which will have a seating capacity for 40,000 spectators as the existing cricket stadiums in Galle, Dambulla, Colombo and Hambantota are capable of hosting a maximum capacity of 35,000 spectators.
The 26 acre facility will be able to host day-night matches and will take three years to complete and will be the second cricket ground in the Colombo district with floodlight capabilities.
The project will cost around US 30 to 40 million dollars. Responding to the severe criticism received, Sri Lanka Cricket in a statement yesterday said that the Homagama International Cricket Stadium project was in view of the increasing demand for the game and especially due to the popularity of the short formats of the game.
“.. the need has arisen to cater to large crowds with easy access in an urban environment. It should also be noted that ICC has now afforded the opportunity for member countries to express the interest in staging the World Cup series in the respective countries for which it is expected to have at least five international level cricket stadiums in the country with a seating capacity of around 25,000 - 40,000,” the SLC said.
The former Rajapaksa government was severely criticized for launching white elephant projects with allegations it made no valuable contribution to the country’s economy.
- The land in Homagama handed over to Sri Lanka cricket with the aim of transforming the area into a sports city
- new cricket stadium should not be a priority presently as the country’s economy was affected by the pandemic