NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – The dilapidated artificial turf at the City Stadium simmers under the sweltering mid-morning Nairobi sun with the partly burnt long and grown grass bushes around the perimeter swinging side to side, whistling through the soft wind in soliloquy.
The Russia end of the stadium is unrecognizable with the long grass almost swallowing up the view of the seating areas and snakes finding a new habitat from beneath the stoned seating areas.
The Stadium, once a revered home ground of record Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia sleeps in almost near neglect, the simmering turf punctuated with wear and tear and small hounds of rubber pellets telling the lengthy story of a stadium long dead in its glory.
A go-to venue for most Nairobi based teams from the Kenyan Premier League to the lower tiers, the City Stadium has swum in neglect since it was switched from natural grass to a synthetic pitch through a FIFA project in 2008.
Under the Nairobi County Government, there have been plans to renovate the stadium and especially replace the artificial turf.
“At the moment we are in phase one of the renovations where we are doing the dressing rooms, washrooms and the Main Stand. After that, we will move into phase two which will include replacing the turf, the floodlights and building two more terrace stands,” Hashim Kamau, the Nairobi Sports Board chair told Capital Sport.
Already, the Nairobi County Assembly has approved a Sh20mn budget for phase one, but a further Sh180mn is required for phase two, as per Kamau.
This, however, has been hindered by the current County Allocation Revenue Bill 2020, that has not been passed due to an impasse on the third generation formula for revenue sharing at the Senate. However, he hopes that the same can be resolved in the next coming weeks.
“We are planning to tender for the turf laying works in the next two weeks. At the moment, the contractor is not working because basically we have not finished his payments,” Kamau further explains.
A new toilet block has been built, though yet to be completed while the changing rooms have also had a small face-lift, also yet to be completed.
There was talk of the government taking over the rehabilitation and running of the stadium, but Kamau says there has been no formal approach from Kencom House.
“We have no problem with the Government helping but as at now, there has been no one talking to us about it,” he notes.
Kamau is however hopeful, and equally sounds confident that the stadium will get a new face by April next year.
Capital Sports visited the stadium on Wednesday, and this is it’s current state.