The renovation of Mandela National Stadium-Namboole is set to be completed in June 2023.
Renovations kicked off in January 2022, nearly two years after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) blacklisted the stadium from hosting because it was substandard.
FIFA and CAF recommended new seats in the general public stands, a new green playing surface, decent changing rooms for both players and officials, a new running track (tartan), installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, a modern LED scoreboard and upgrading of floodlights.
The renovation which is being undertaken by the UPDF Engineering Brigade started with the construction of the 4.2km perimeter wall surrounding every corner of the stadium.
Lt. Col Peter Kidemuka, the project Engineer confirmed that the wall whose construction was 3.8 billion Shillings has been completed and awaits to be handed over. The engineers will then embark on phase two.
Phase two of the renovations will include working on the plumbing equipment, repairing the pitch, pavilion, and dressing rooms, installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, seats in the general public stands, and upgrading floodlights as directed by CAF. This, the engineers are hopeful that by June 2023, renovations will be completed.
When the URN reporter visited the site, a new white gate was erected, and outside the stadium, there is a new coat of paint on the wall.
The entire playing surface has also been dismantled with no visible grass at all while the outdated tartan is still available.
Col Deo Akiiki, the Deputy Army Spokesperson said that the playing surface will be done to international standards.
Reverend Canon Duncan Mugumya, the Commissioner for Physical Education and Sports in the Ministry of Education and Sports said the playing surface will be flood resistant. He adds that the Ministry has committed to importing grass if necessary because the government has provided sufficient funds for renovation.
Reverend Mugumya also said that the Ministry will import seats that are weather resistant for both the ordinary and VIP sections.
Namboole’s current seating capacity is 45,202, and although the installation of seats threatens to reduce the seating capacity, Mugumya says the installation of seats will help to maintain the capacity.
“Increasing its capacity? I don’t think so, but the normal capacity will be kept, but the abnormal capacity will be eliminated, you know when there are no seats, three people can stand where one seat can be, but now with seats, if the seats are 20, when you get 20, you say we are full.” Mugumya said.
Namboole was the home ground for the national team, the Uganda Cranes since 2002.
Currently, Uganda relies on St. Mary’s Stadium Kitende, a privately-owned facility to host international games. But, the facility also lacks floodlights, which is one of the key requirements for a stadium to host a FIFA-guided match.