Sri Lankan government has decided to stop its proposed project to build what was to be the island’s biggest international cricket stadium following a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“It has been decided to suspend the proposed new international cricket stadium project in Homagama,” Prime Minister’s office said in a release after the meeting attended by former cricketers.
There was no immediate reaction from the governing body, Sri Lanka Cricket to the Prime Minister’s decision.
The SLC’s reasoning to build a new stadium nearer to Colombo was to host two ICC World Cup events which are scheduled to be held in the years 2023 to 2031.
The SLC had done inspection of a site at Homagama, a Colombo eastern suburb where they wanted to build a 40,000 seat capacity international cricket stadium costing $30-40 million dollars.
This drew criticism, questioning the need to invest on a new cricket stadium given the dire economic times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mahela Jayawardene, former Sri Lanka captain, had expressed surprise at the decision, arguing that when Sri Lanka was not playing enough international cricket or domestic cricket there was no need for another stadium.
The SLC had asserted that “this project will be an absolute private investment of the board and no government funds will be utilized and or will be sought at any stage of the construction”.
SLC ran into high debt following the upgrading of the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo and the Hambanthota stadium in the south during the 2011 World Cup.
It sought for a government bail out in an environment of severe financial hardships post 2011. They had even restricted player contract fees due to the financial crisis brought about by investing in infrastructure development in 2010.