Sri Lanka Cricket’s new stadium project in Colombo, which was proposed only several days ago, has been suspended, following the Sri Lanka government’s rowing back of its commitment to its construction.
Although on Sunday, government minister Bandula Gunawardana appeared with Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Shammi Silva to announce the construction of a 40,000-capacity stadium east of the city, adverse public opinion appears to have changed the government’s mind.
SLC had confirmed it was the government which had promised to “allocate” the 26 acres the stadium was supposed to be built on, and without this grant, and particularly without governmental support, the project is essentially dead.
Several former cricketers – particularly former captain Mahela Jayawardene and ex-ICC match-referee Roshan Mahanama – had expressed criticism of the stadium proposal, and it is these opinions which appear to have helped change the government’s mind on the project.
Jayawardene and Mahanama, along with Kumar Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga and Sanath Jayasuriya, were all present at a high-level government meeting on Thursday, before the decision to suspend the stadium’s construction was announced.
Colombo already has one floodlit international stadium at Khettarama (the R Premadasa stadium), where the majority of the city’s limited-overs cricket is played. Earlier in the week, an SLC offical had said that Sri Lanka required a fifth major limited-overs stadium (in addition to grounds in Hambantota, Pallekele, Dambulla and Khettarama) in order to make successful bids for forthcoming World Cups and ICC events.
It is understood, however, that the ICC has never specifically stipulated that a nation must have certain number of stadiums in order to win a bid to host a tournament, although number and capacity of stadiums is a factor in the ICC’s weighing-up of potential hosts.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo