By Ade Akinbosade
The Ondo State capital, Akure, has of recent emerged from her sleepy status to that of a living/thriving State capital with the provision of modern infrastructural facilities that include and are not limited to the following: good network of roads in the central areas, to wit, Oba Adesida, Arakale, Hospital Road, Oke-Aro, Oba-Ile and Ondo Road amongst others. the State Capital can boast also of standard Hotel facilities, Restaurants, and adequate security as it is reputed to be the most peaceful State Capital in Nigeria.
In the circumstance, it should be expected to be a haven for investment destination and/or a thriving economic power hub of Ondo State. Unfortunately, this is not so as 80% of the inhabitants are civil servants whose purchasing power apart from being low, has been affected adversely by the global economic meltdown with the resultant downturn in the capacity of the state government to generate needed revenues to meet her ever increasing developmental efforts. Essentially, it is necessary to observe that in the last couple of years, business has remained gloomy with the bandwagon effect on payment of taxes and rates accrued to government’s coffers.
Consequently, revenues accrued to government has to suffer almost irretrievably against the backdrop of huge wages to civil servants which is always on increase. In order to arrest this ugly trend, the State Government should be able to look inward to creating a conducive environment that would enhance the prevailing purchasing power of residents with the concomitant impact on Government’s Internally Generated Revenue capacity hitherto essentially pedestrian in nature being driven by the Board of Internal Revenue.
However, one critical area of achieving this, is the establishment of a Modern Stadium in Akure, the State capital. The Old Stadium located in Oke Igan, off Oba Adesida Road, Akure was built by the Western Regional Government around early 1970s. Chief Adekunle Ajasin, as first Civilian Governor expanded and improved on it in 1979. No doubt, the facilities in the old Stadium have become obsolete and its capacity to accommodate 5,000 spectators is doubtful. Thus, it lacks capacity to host International Sporting Events attracting more than ten thousand people. Besides, it is only one entrance makes it an endangered stadium to spectators or events makers in case of any emergency. Therefore, there is an urgent need for Ondo State Government to construct at least a 40,000 capacity stadium with modern state-of-the-art facilities.
Fortunately, Governor Olusegun Agagu, in year 2003 acquired a large expanse of land in Araromi Quarters, Akure for construction of an Ultra-Modern Stadium. The acquired land is not only strategic but adjacent to the popular Governor Onyearugbulem’s built market, sited along Owo-Ilesha Road, Akure. The location of the proposed Stadium is such that, it will rob off economically on the largely unutilized 200 market stalls at Onyearugbulem market, which in itself, another veritable revenue generating avenue for the State Government. In addition, as mentioned earlier, easy accessibility to the Stadium is guaranteed because of its being adjacent to Owo-Ilesa road, thus the usual hold-up which characterizes Oba Adesida Road and its adjourning roads whenever sporting activities or ceremonies are being held in the old Stadium will be a thing of the past.
Generally, every community or city needs critical infrastructural facilities such as good roads, water, electricity, industries and stadium for speedy or accelerated development. Stadium, among others plays a pivotal role in bringing rapid transformation to the socio-economic lives of the people and the entire locality. It is a thing of joy to note that the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu at a Smoking Hill golf ceremony held in Ilara-Mokin in 2017, emphasized the importance of functional golf pits and other sporting facilities as necessary ingredient for socio-economic development. Thus, this paper seeks to appreciate Mr. Governor’s view on this as well as encourage the State Government to build modern stadiums (Stadia) for Akure, the State Capital because of its limitless economic benefits.
Definition of Stadium
Stadium is described as a large structure for either sporting activities or entertainment. A stadium is a structure that surrounds a central field or stage in which spectacular events take place. The facility provides seating for spectators to view the event either by sitting or by standing. Usually, every seat gives a spectator a complete view of the field, no matter where he or she is sitting. It can also be seen as a place or avenue used mostly for sports, concerts or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a tiered structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event as it unfolds.
The word “Stadium” originated from the Greek work stadion and the oldest and perhaps one of the most influential stadiums (stadia) is in Olympia Greece. The ancient Olympic Games took place in Olympia dating from 776 BC. This stadium was influential because it sets a standardized length of approximately 210 yards (190 metres), the length of a typical sprinting event. Rome, could also be cited as a place where one of the oldest stadiums is found. Stadiums were used in Roman times for gladiator fights and public executions among other spectacular events.
Other early stadiums (stadia) from this period in the United Kingdom include the Stamford Bridge Stadium (opened in 1877 for the London Athletic club) and Anfield Stadium (1884 as venue for Everton F.C) in the United States, many professional baseball teams built large stadiums mainly out of wood with the first such venue being the South End Grounds in Boston, opened in 1871 for the team then known as the Boston Beaneasters (now the Atlanta Braves).
Today, there are three basic stadium designs: (1) Oval (2) Horseshoe and open.
Oval Stadium: This includes seating all the way around the field and, due to the length of the football field, it is oval in shape.
Horseshoe Stadium: A horseshoe stadium is open at one end, where both entry and exits are done in any event.
Open Stadium: Open stadium is open at both ends.
Although, a stadium is typically designed to be open-air, newer designs include dome roofs or moveable, sliding roofs to protect the spectators, players and field from inclement weather.
The seating in a stadium usually consists of fold down seats on terraced rows, starting at the field level and gradually rising to what is known as the “nose-bleed”, named for the rise in altitude. Meanwhile, most stadiums have seating for spectators; some include standing areas and bleachers of benches for sitting. Large stadium can seat upwards of 100,000 people and some racing stadiums or speed ways such as the Indianapolis speedway can seat up to 250,000.
Types of Stadium
Basically, two types of stadiums would be x-rayed in this paper vis:
- Domed Stadiums
These stadiums are distinguished from the conventional stadiums by their enclosing roofs. Some of them are not Domes in the sense that the architectural design has made them unique. Some are called Vaults, some having truss-supported roofs while others having more exotics designs such as a tensegrity structure. But in the context of sport stadiums, the term “Dome” has become standard for all covered stadiums particularly because the first such enclosed stadium, the Houston Astrodome was build with an actual dome-shape roof, some of this type have partial roofs and the few have even been designed to have movable fields as part of the infrastructure.
- Multipurpose Stadiums
These stadiums are designed for multiple types of events. While any stadium could potentially host more than one type of sport or event, this concept usually refers to a specific design philosophy that Canada and the United States where the two most popular outdoor team sports; Football and Baseball required radically different facilities.
Development of Modern Stadium in Nigeria
Although Nigeria had several stadiums (stadia) scattered throughout the country, there is no stadium that met international standards. The capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, was selected to host the 8th All Africa Games in 2000 (regional multi-sport event held every four years, organized by the Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa) despite having no facilities for such a major sporting event. The Federal Government of Nigeria embarked on a multi-million dollar project for the construction of stat- of-the-art stadium and games village to be completed in time to host the All Africa Games. The contract was awarded on the 18th of July, 2000 from a choice list of about 80 different bidders. Construction of the complex was initiated.
Citizens and athletes had doubts as to whether the completion of the stadium was feasible before the games. However, construction went very smoothly and ended up being ahead of schedule. As a matter of fact, the stadium was scheduled to be the host centre for the Miss World Beauty Pageant that took place later in 2002. Unfortunately, the stadium not being fully completed by then as well as an uprising amongst citizens forced the pageant to relocate to London, England. The construction of the main bowl went on from its inception in September 2000 to its completion in April 2003, well in time for the games. The Games Village Construction went on from September 2000 to August 2003
The official commissioning of the complex was on the 8th of APRIL, 2003. Following its commissioning was the final let of preparations for the games. The games that year were the largest in All African Games history, 6,000 athletes from 53 countries competed in 22 sports, watched over by 1,200 officials. Over 1,500 journalists reported for the world’s media.
Apart from the All African Games, the stadium has hosted important football matches, such as World Cup qualifiers between Nigeria and other countries. The first game played at the stadium was a football (soccer) match between two local rival teams: the Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Sunshine Stars of Akure on the 8th of April 2003. The first goal scored in the complex was from Shooting Stars’ Striker Shakiru Lawal who scored the only goal of the game after just five minutes.
The complex has given the country confidence to bid for various up-coming international events. The Federation of International Volleyball (VIVB) impressed by the facilities in the stadium game, the Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF) the hosting rights of the 2007 World Youth Championship.
Apart from its function as a sport centre, the Abuja Stadium serves as a home to cultural and religious events. Its capacity attracts various events such as concerts, and religious conferences, events which sometimes have preference over sports. Due to the fact that Nigerians have several religion organizations, several religious events occur each year that attract a lot of citizens and require a large capacity arena with attendant money generated. For example, in September 2006, the Nigeria Football Association was rendered helpless over the Presidency’s preference of a religious event in the main bowl of the Abuja Stadium to an international football match against Rwanda.
The Abuja Stadium consists of the following:
- 60,491 capacity covered main bowl
- Presidential Suite and Viewing Area
- 56 corporate Suites
- Modern turnstiles
- Box Office
- Post Offices
- Media facilities
- Two scoreboards and floodlights
- Shops and kiosk for snacks
- A standby power supply system
- 3,000 capacity indoor sports hall
- 2,000 capacity gymnasi* 2,000 capacity
- 4,000 vehicle capacity public parking lot
- One artificial lake
- Tennis courts
- 3,000 capacity hockey stadium
- 400 capacity VIP car park
- Baseball and Softball complex
Other Notable Stadiums in Nigeria are:
(a) Lagos National Stadium (1972) with 45,000 capacity
(b Jos International Stadium (1989) with 44,000 capacity
(c) U.J Esuene Stadium (1977) with 35,000 capacity
(d)M.K.O Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta with 35,000 capacity
(e)Liberty Stadium (Obafemi Awolowo Stadium) with 35,000 capacity
(f) Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt with 30,000 capacity
(g) Godswill Akpabio International Stadium with 30,000 capacity
(h) Enyimba International Stadium with 25,500 capacity
Benefits of Establishing a Modern Stadium
a.Job creation: People are employed at the construction as well as its completion to take care of the maintenance and the security of the facilities in place in a stadium. Without adequate and regular maintenance, it may soon become moribund. Besides, it provides job for other categories of people such as entertainers, receptionists, drivers, securities, waiters etc.
- Attraction of other infrastructures to the area: Such as electricity, water, roads, creative industries, commodity market, post offices, banks, etc.
c.Commercial activities around stadium site are boosted: For example, traders can display their wares close to stadium for spectators to patronize. Also commercialism is often alive and well articulated in the sporting industry. Stadium Naming Rights area, a hot commodity among corporate sponsors. Corporations are willing to shell out millions of dollars to name a stadium and many stadiums have undergone numerous name changes over the years, much to the chagrin of local fans. For example, the National Assembly in Nigeria, only few years back approved the proposal to name Benin Stadium in Edo State after the immediate late Oba of Benin City. To date, the highest price paid in the United States was the 10 million US dollars (USD) by reliant energy in Houston, Texas to name the home of the Texans Football Team Reliant Stadium.
- Stadium is also designed to house a variety of events. For instance, apart from sporting events, it can also be used by any popular entertainer such as musician or artist to display skills for the entertainment of fans. Often, people confuse stadiums with arenas which are venues that support indoor sporting events such as basket ball. Stadium can be either multi-use designated for one of several types of sporting events including track, soccer and football.
- A small and isolated community can become famous once a stadium is sited in such an area.
- Stadium being an edifice that hosts various events can also promote friendship ties and unity among people of different ethnic backgrounds.
- Infrastructural development of the area is also guaranteed.
- Establishment of stadium can also serve as a source of revenue generation to the government especially now that the country is in dire need of money to fulfill her obligations to the citizenry.
Presently, there is economic meltdown as a result of the fall in oil price in the international market, Nigeria is finding it difficult to cope as a result of over dependence on oil. The way out is for government to divest the economy and pay less attention on oil production.
This paper has considered the holistic view of what stadium connotes, examples of modern stadiums as well as the socio-economic. One fundamental point that must be raised here is that establishment of stadium is desirable for our State Capital. Stadium is one of the public goods whose provision is being determined by government. Although, building a world class stadium requires a lot of money as it is capital intensive, the advantages cannot be over-emphasized. It is therefore, my humble submission that the State Government should make a choice to build a state of the art stadium in Akure because of its socio-economic benefits.
Ade Akinbosade is the Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Akure.
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