Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has approved the rehabilitation and upgrade of the 5,000 capacity Onikan Stadium, near Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos Island, in order to make it meet the expectations of a 21st Century sporting facility which is also in line with the new Onikan-Marina Regeneration plan.
In a statement issued on Sunday by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, the state government said the upgrade demonstrates its commitment to use sports as a potent tool for development and job creation; adding that the stadium, which is the oldest in Nigeria, was originally built in 1930 but was last renovated in the 1980s.
“The upgrading of the stadium will rekindle the interest of football fans in local league, as well as promote sports tourism, take sports to greater heights and encourage youth activities,” he said.
He further stated that rehabilitation works would also be done on external and internal walls, electrical and mechanical installations; paved driveways, perimeter fence; borehole and water reticulation as well as external electricity lighting and landscaping amongst others.
Onikan Stadium has, over the years, served as a multi-purpose stadium used for many social and political activities apart from hosting of football matches but its fortunes nosedived in the past few years due to inadequate funding and maintenance.
He added that the reconstruction and upgrade of the stadium would complement the adjoining JK Randle Arts Centre, the proposed Lagos Museum, the Lagos History Centre as well as the Lagos Heritage Centre which are all tourism-inspired projects.