Sports analysts dismiss Chiyangwa’s stadium bid

Independent observers and sports analysts have poured cold water on Philip Chiyangwa’s audacious plans to build a multi-purpose stadium saying such a venture needs a massive financial injection of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Other analysts have rubbished the flamboyant businessman’s proposed project as a ruse given the fact that most of his past projects have remained mere pipe dreams.

One observer said Chiyangwa needed to complete the hotel that he planned to complete in 2010, which he said was meant to cash in on the global soccer event in neighbouring South Africa. The hotel never saw the light of the day.

Contacted for comment, Chiyangawa said insisted that he had the financial backing to undertake the stadium construction. He said UEFA was not providing direct funding but the technical expertise.

He said estimated cost of such a stadium was around US$55 million, which he said was able to raise through his partners. He said he would soon make public some of the partners that have expressed interest in the project.

The proposal by Chiyangwa comes in the wake of recent CAF concerns on the National Sports Stadium’s lack of ablution facilities among other issues that render it unsuitable for continued use.

Chiyangwa publicly announced his dream project before  concluding some key formalities as well as sealing the deal with prospective partners and the Harare City Council.

He recently revealed plans to turn part of the land he owns in Harare South into a stadium that matches world standards.

Grand projects of this nature normally consume huge sums of money and need to have concrete agreements in place take off. In Africa, no such project has ever been undertaken by an individual except in the Democratic Republic of Congo. EUFA normally deals with football associations and not individuals.

Said an observer: “There are issues there. There is need for a change of land use. Then there is the issue of costs, how much will such a facility cost?  Who is coming on board to finance the project? All these issues needed to be addressed before going public.”

In recent times, a number of Zimbabweans, including Chiyangwa himself, have undertaken mammoth projects, only to abandon construction before completion. When it comes to building stadia, huge amounts are needed.

For the kind of stadium that Chiyangwa envisages — one like Moses Mabidha in Durban, South Africa — Chiyangwa and his partners will have to fork out a fortune.

The construction of Moses Mabibha Stadium took three years to complete at a cost of US$3,4 billion. The gigantic stadium was completed in time for the 2010 World Cup.

ln Ndola, Zambia, the Chinese-built Levy Mwanawasa Stadium was constructed in over two years at a cost of just over US$70 million. English Premiership outfit Tottenham Hotspur splashed one hundred million pounds on their new stadium in London.

In South Sudan, the country’s football association are spending more than US$25 million in expansion works on the 12 000- seater Juba Stadium, albeit with the aid of Fifa Forward support.

Chiyangwa’s project manager, Evans Munaku, indicated that they were looking at other world class stadia to come up with their envisioned multi-purpose stadium.

The Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) as well as the Harare City Council said they welcomed Chiyangwa’s plans to construct a stadium.

They both said they are keen to see the maverick businessman’s project coming to fruition. SRCs chairman Gerald Mlotshwa said although it is still early days, they welcome the development.

“It’s too early to say much about that project but it would be a welcome development. We encourage other entrepreneurs to think along the lines of this country’s sport infrastructure development.

“However, as I said, I cannot say much for now because these are still just plans,’’ Mlotshwa said.

Harare City Council spokesman Michael Chideme said the municipality was eager to see the anticipated project becoming a reality.

“It will be a welcome development if it does happen. The city exists to facilitate development. We are very excited with such grand plans, which have the effect of making Harare a world class city by 2025, which is our vision,” said Chideme.