Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Residents of Ogbe community in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State have started warming up in expectation of what they would gain if the renovation work currently going on at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is finally completed.
More stores where sporting accessories are sold are being opened on daily in the environ in expectation of the opening of the stadium while the already existing ones are fully stocked with various sporting accessories.
The stadium when operational, will boost the internal revenue generation of the state, as shop owners will be made to pay their taxes to the state government.
On the gains of the stadium, Mr. Abraham Ogbeifun said it will help create jobs and arrest youths restiveness in the state.
“Definitely, the renovation of the stadium, when completed, will add economic value to the community and the state in general.
And I believe that the youths from other communities and those from other local governments can come around and practise at the stadium when completed. When the stadium is completed, it will help the youths to develop their talents.
“I am 100 percent satisfied with the way the stadium is right now compared to how it was some years ago. I can best liken and compare it with those we have in other countries,” he said.
Abraham said the pattern of the construction of the stadium has made it convenient for sports lovers to have a field-day despite the weather conditions of the day.
“And with the covering of the stadium, unlike in the past when it is raining and there are sporting activities going on, you will be looking for the place to hide your own head, today you can sit conveniently whether rain or sunshine, you will be comfortable.
“I will say the man is really working and I commend his effort. I pray that God should give him the strength to do more in other areas. With this development he has started, it is a plus for the state and the country,” he said.
For Nneka Okoye, a sports accessory vendor, the stadium will attract foreign investors to the state.
“It is going to open up the state economically by bringing in local and international athletes all over the country.
“It is going to boost the economy of the state because the more people come, the more they will want to invest their resources and that will give our youths more jobs and reduce the crime rate in the state.
“And if this place is completed, it is going to bring in a lot of business ideas. It is going to improve sports and those who come for different competitions will like to buy something and that will boost the economy of the state,” Nneka said.
Also, Dr. Uchefe Okiemute noted that the stadium can be a source of money spinner for the state government if it is run as a business venture.
“In most civilized nations, stadia are actually a source of income and Europe, specifically in the European Premier League (EPL) most of them are privately owned except for probably the main stadium that is owned by the British government.
“And if regularly programmes are held there, it can become money spinners for state government. It can also be a source of relaxation as they say, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.
“So, it is a necessary facility if managed properly. It is just that it is a sad situation in this country that many stadia are left to disintegrate. Case in point, the stadia in Lagos, except the Teslim Balogun Stadium that is run specifically by the Lagos State government.
“So, I think it is a useful thing. I am happy that the government is also thinking about that and what I will encourage it to do is that sports should be run like a business. That means, it increases patronage and the government can get return on investment.
“If proper games are played here, you can put your adverts up or an organization can sponsor the event or can probably name the place after themselves for a brief period as they do in the EPL. For example, the Arsenal Stadium is known as the Emirate Stadium because the Emirate Airlines are the ones maintaining the place on behalf of the Arsenal Football Club.
“So, if we do this, run sports as a business, put the necessary infrastructure, it will be of immense benefit to the state. I commend them for approving the renovation.
“I believe by next year; I heard that the national sports festival is likely to hold in Benin City if I am correct. Then, if that is the case, there you go, you will have a rush of investments into the state, people will spend money, they will book hotels, they will go to other leisure centres, they will want to see where the Oba’s palace is, thereby shoring up the economy of the state. I am sure the foresight of the governor will pay off. I wish him more foresight,” Okiemute prayed.
The new shape of the stadium has compelled Mr. Olayiwola Goriola, a table tennis coach to jokingly christened it “Arsenal Stadium.”
“You can see it is quite different from before. This stadium, we are looking forward to it to bring international matches because it is up to international standard. It is a stadium where if they put the necessary facilities in place will boost the economy of the state and the country.
“I hope they can put more facilities on ground, because I heard they wanted to buy all the houses around to build the necessary facilities. I do not know how they are going to do that but I know that the people in this environment will still enjoy the facilities.”
Goriola called on all sports lovers to come out en mass to appreciate the governor when the stadium is finally completed.
“Sports lovers should come around after everything has been done to appreciate governor Obaseki and whoever that was involved that make it happen,” he said.