Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has approved the rehabilitation and upgrade of the 5,000 capacity Onikan Stadium to reflect a 21st Century sporting facility.
The stadium’s upgrade also falls into the new Onikan-Marina regeneration plan. Steve Ayorinde, the state commissioner for information and strategy, announced the decision on Sunday.
According to Ayorinde, the proposed upgrade demonstrates the state’s commitment to use sports as a potent tool for development and job creation, as the stadium, which is the oldest in Nigeria, was originally built in 1930 but was last renovated in the 1980s.
“The upgrading of the stadium will rekindle the interest of football fans in local league, as well as promote sports tourism, take sports to greater heights and encourage youth activities,” Ayorinde said.
The upgraded is also in line with the desire of Lagos to attain a host city status for local and international tournaments and will impact positively on the state’s revenue generation, Ayorinde said.
Elaborating on the scope of the upgrade, he said the work would entail complete demolition of the existing facility, removal of the old turf, pitch, underground drainage and artificial pitch base.
He further stated that rehabilitation works would also be done on external and internal walls, electrical and mechanical installations; paved driveways, perimeter fence; borehole and water reticulation as well as external electricity lighting and landscaping, among others.
Onikan Stadium has, over the years, served as a multi-purpose stadium used for many social and political activities apart from hosting of football matches, but its fortunes nosedived in the past few years due to inadequate funding and maintenance.
“The governor realized that the stadium in its present state could not inspire any sense of pride in Lagosians, especially our youths, and falls short of the expectations of a State that has always led the rest of the country in sporting activities,” the commissioner noted.
He added that the reconstruction and upgrade of the stadium would complement the adjoining JK Randle Arts Center, the proposed Lagos Museum, the Lagos History Center as well as the Lagos Heritage Center which are all tourism-inspired projects.
“Governor Ambode is passionate about sports development in the state, from the grassroots to the world stage and he is excited that the reconstruction will rekindle the love for local football league that is synonymous with the stadium and Lagos Island,” he said.