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04.03.2004 Sports News

Kumasi Stadium To Be Closed Down

By Maurice Quansah
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The Kumasi Sports Stadium is to be closed down soon, for four months, to facilitate the construction of synthetic athletics tracks and reconstruction of the football field.

The closure has become necessary because the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports wants the athletics facilities to be ready by June, to enable Ghana's athletics team to train there in preparation for the Athens Olympics in August.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Education Youth and Sports, Mr Joe Aggrey and two experts for the project briefed the media on the recommendations by the experts as well as the government's determination to provide facilities capable of hosting international competitions and the preparation of the athletics teams for the Athens Games.

The experts, Messrs Garry Walker and Klaus Steiler of Germany-based company Polytan Sportstatenbam, had completed working visits to the Accra, Kumasi and El-Wak stadia to assess the extent of work to be done.

Mr Walker said that in order to provide world class facilities that met the requirements of athletics world governing body (IAAF), some structural adjustments must be made to both the Accra and Kumasi stadia.

This could result in the demolition of some tiers of the seating facilities at certain stands to accomodate the inclusion of warm-up tracks to the existing eight-lane running tracks, and relocate the long jump and pole vault areas which are pre-requisites of the IAAF for international competitions.

The reconstruction of the running tracks also involves redirecting the drainage as well as the contruction of a new basement for the tracks. This work, according to the experts, would affect the training side of the field. After inspecting the Accra stadium, the experts recommended that it would be impossible to provide warm up tracks and the long jump, triple jump and pole vault within IAAF specification.

Thus it has been decided that the Kumasi Stadium, which requires minimal structural work and can also accommodate IAAF's specifications, be developed to host international athletics competitions.In the light of the experts advice, the Ministry is contemplating developing the Accra stadium's athletics facilities and reserving it for schools and colleges athletics, or for soccer only and instead, develop the El-Wak Stadium to host schools and colleges athletics.

Mr Aggrey said while the reconstruction is on, the football field will also be scrapped, redeveloped and regrassed to meet international standards. In the meantime, the playing field at the Accra Stadium is being considered for reconstruction with the grass replaced with a synthetic surface which is now accepted by soccers' world governing body FIFA.

When the Kumasi Stadium is closed down, the authorities would consider althernative venues where organised football competitions would be played until June when work is expected to be completed.

Even though Mr Aggrey did not disclose the cost of the construction works, he gave the assuracne that the government deemed the project as a priority and was thus committed to providing funds for its completion.

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