City Stadium rots away despite many promises to refurbish it

Wednesday March 18 2020

An aerial view of City Stadium in Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |


It's now 42 months since Nairobi City Stadium was deemed unfit to host competitive football matches.

In February 2016, the Kenyan Premier League's Stadia, Safety, and Security Committee inspected the 10,000-seater venue following complaints from footballers and members of the public.

The committee thereafter said the facility was not only in a poor state but was also a health hazard.

"Due to the poor state of the playing surface, there is a serious concern regarding the safety of players and therefore, it's the recommendation of the committee that the City County Stadium should not host any Kenya Premier League matches until necessary repairs have been done," the statement read in part.

Since then, there have been many promises from politicians and senior government officials about planned refurbishment of the facility.

But nothing much has been done. Nation Sport visited the facility but our team was denied access by security officers manning the gates. Multiple sources we spoke to told us no renovation work has been done.

In poor condition

At the moment, local teams from the surrounding estates train at the facility despite its poor condition. From time to time, the stadium hosts select matches of Extreme Sports Super Eight League.

Nairobi County government also uses the facility to host official functions that are unrelated to sports. The artificial turf inside the stadium is so worn out that blue rubber chippings emerge when one steps on it. It is feared using this pitch could cause serious injury to players.

The perimeter fence is in place, but it badly needs a fresh coat of paint. The stands and terraces inside the stadium are dirty and dusty that those inside the stadium have to think whether to sit or to just stand while watching football. The toilets are dysfunctional. City Stadium also has a parking lot within the perimeter wall and outside the stadium, but security of cars parked there during matches is not guaranteed.

It's been 15 years since City Stadium was last spruced up. In 2008, Kenya Football Federation management, led by Mohammed Hatimy and Titus Kasuve, convinced world football governing body Fifa to spend Sh25 million in renovating the stadium under the 'Win in Africa for Africa' programme.

Fifa also supplied an artificial turf and flew in engineers to fix it at City Stadium just before the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.

"These new facilities are primarily to promote youth football. This is also intended to develop domestic competitions, train African executives, promote sports medicine and address topical issues relating to the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa," a statement on Fifa's website regarding the project states in part.

At the time, Nairobi City Council was meant to fund more renovation works at the facility, including sprucing up the terraces but nothing happened.

"We have finalised what we had promised to do. Sadly, some of the things like improved dressing rooms and increased seating capacity have not been done.

The council ought to do these things, otherwise, the whole project will look like a waste," Fifa Development Officer Ashford Mamelodi told Nation Sport in 2008.

It has come to pass.

Former Nairobi County governor Evans Kidero and his Sports Minister Anne Lokidor 'unveiled' many plans to renovate the facility, with a Sh100 million having been set aside for the work. That didn't happen.

Governor Mike Sonko took over in 2017 and made more promises.

"Plans are on course to renovate City Stadium to international standards as we strive to improve sports infrastructure in Nairobi County in order to give youth an opportunity to nurture their talent," said Sonko last year.

Nothing has been done on the facility, previously known as Donholm Road Stadium. Kenyan Premier League team Gor Mahia which considers the facility its home ground has relocated its league matches to Machakos and Kisumu.