FRANCISTOWN: Francistown mayor Sylvia Muzila has expressed fear that the Francistown Sports Complex may soon become a white elephant owing to its growing level of inactiveness. The 27, 000-seater sports complex, commissioned late in 2015 amidst much fanfare, cost the government over P200 million including cost overruns.
The stadium has held high profile matches for the Zebras and several premier league matches. It has also held two finals of the Mascom Top 8 competition. But, other affiliates of the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) such as the Botswana Athletics Association have seldom held competitions at the pricey Complex.
In fact, in recent months the stadium has appeared under-utilised something, which Muzila believes should be a source of worry to city authorities. With no premier league team from Francistown this season, there is fear that the situation may worsen as First Division teams prefer to use the cheap, but less fanciful old Francistown stadium and other dusty grounds around the city. Even some recreational activities are held at the old Francistown stadium because of its affordability. The mayor emphasised that “everything possible” has to be done as soon as possible to ensure that the sports complex functions optimally.
“I believe we urgently need to put our heads together to ensure that the sports complex does not become a white elephant.
As civic leaders we have to swiftly come up with strong strategies that will ensure that the stadium use is optimised,” she said in her opening speech of the week-long ordinary full council meeting.
Muzila said it is vital for the councillors and others in position of influence in the city to lobby as well as support the country’s big soccer teams, other sports codes and those who constantly host high profile activities to use the sports complex in a bid to ensure that it remains active. She added that it is not ideal for the facility to gobble thousands of pulas in maintenance fees while it remains under-utilised. There are even fears that the national team might cease taking most of their high profile matches to Francistown because authorities believe that it does not make perfect financial sense.
One of the facilities that were built with much fanfare but remain under-utilised is the Masunga sports complex which cost the government around P25 million. The stadium is now in a gloomy dilapidated state.
Many critics have questioned the feasibility of building the stadium in Masunga when there are other areas in need of such facility in the country.