Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the suspension of a project to build a major new cricket stadium in Homoagama, Colombo District, just days after the plans were first revealed.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the government had outlined plans to build the country’s biggest cricket stadium earlier this week. The first phase of the project would have involved the development of a 40,000-seat ground, with the second phase to expand the capacity to 60,000.
However, Rajapaksa has called for the project to be abandoned and believes the funds will be put to better use if they are directed towards the development of school cricket and stadia. SLC president Shammi Silva had stated that the project would have cost between $30m (€27.5m) and $40m.
Following the announcement earlier this week, both SLC and the government faced a backlash over the plans, with some fans questioning the need to invest heavily in a stadium project during uncertain economic times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Former national team captains Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene were also critical of the plans.
SLC had insisted that the project would be privately funded and would not use any government funds but Rajapaksa has taken the decision to scrap the plans.
“It was decided at a meeting with former top players today that instead of the proposed Homagama stadium it was better to spend money on building school cricket,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.
The stadium would have become Colombo’s second floodlit facility after R. Premadasa Stadium (pictured). Sri Lanka also has international-standard cricket venues in Kandy, Galle, Hambantota, Dambulla, Pallekele and Moratuwa.