Francistown residents are waiting with bated breath for the long awaited construction of the P175 million Francistown integrated sports complex. It is expected that the construction of the sports complex will finally get under way immediately after the ground breaking ceremony on Monday 17 March.
In a communiqu├® to The Sunday Standard, Assistant Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, Boniface Mabeo, indicated that the project’s groundbreaking ceremony will take place on March 17 and construction will follow immediately after.
The occasion will be graced by the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, Moeng Pheto, as well as government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
The Sunday Standard is informed that a Chinese company, Tuama Construction, has been awarded the multimillion pula tender for the construction of the 27 000 seater stadium, which will be located at Gerald Estates behind Francistown airport. The facility is to be constructed in phases as the concerned ministry has not been able to secure enough funds for the construction of the whole project all at once.
Phase one will consist of the construction of the football pitch, athletics track, parking lot and other relevant amenities. Phase two of the project will consist of the construction of a multi purpose hall for other indoor games, and courts for other sports codes, like basketball and tennis.
It is expected that the project will be complete by 2010, and that it will prove to be an attraction to foreign teams that will be participating in the South Africa 2010 World Cup to use as a training ground. This anticipation is further fuelled by other projects that will take place within the same period of time, among them the refurbishment and expansion of the Francistown airport and the construction of major roads within the city.
Francistown has, of late, experienced a surge in economic growth powered by the mushrooming of mining industries in and around the city which has also seen the city become a tourist resort of some sort, with the eruption of top of the range nature reserves like the Tachila Nature Reserve and high class hotels like the Cresta Residency, Thapama, Marang, Tati River Lodge and the Adansonia hotel.
It is also hoped that the facility will also assist in bringing other sports codes closer to the city. Francistown sports officials have long complained that they are denied major sports tournaments like the Coca Cola finals, volleyball, boxing and tennis tournaments and the hope is that the construction of the top of the range sports complex will attract more lucrative tournaments to the city which will in turn promote sports development in the north.
Meanwhile local councilors and members of parliament have expressed glee that the multi million pula project will help alleviate the poverty and unemployment that has been dogging the city.