No crowd, no cheer, no glory

RM104mil Batu Kawan state sta­dium a white ele­phant

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By LO TERN CHERN andylo@thes­tar.com.my

NI­BONG TEBAL: A bill­board with the two of­fi­cial 2000 Sukma mas­cots, Bang Bayan and Chombee, is still perched on a lamp­post out­side the State Sta­dium in Batu Kawan. But noth­ing re­ally hap­pens in­side it.

Although the RM104mil sta­dium was built 18 years ago with a ca­pac­ity for 40,000 spec­ta­tors, there’s no roar of foot­ball fans nor cheer­ing crowd as it has be­come a white ele­phant since the 8th Sukma Games.

Apart from host­ing mea­gre events and some premier league foot­ball matches, it is eerily quiet.

The faded paint makes the struc­ture look older than it is. Its car park with 10,000 bays is now an empty tar­mac.

Pe­nang Youth and Sports Com­mit­tee chair­man Soon Lip Chee said af­ter the 2000 Sukma Games, the state sta­dium was sel­dom used for big events as Batu Kawan was con­sid­ered far from ma­jor towns.

“It is ex­pen­sive to main­tain yet a waste to leave it as a white ele­phant.

“We will use the sta­dium to ben­e­fit the peo­ple and drive the lo­cal econ­omy here as Batu Kawan will soon see many de­vel­op­ments,” Soon told The Star af­ter a visit to the sta­dium re­cently.

He hoped the state gov­ern­ment would hold some ma­jor events at the Batu Kawan sta­dium to avoid traf­fic con­ges­tion on Pe­nang is­land.

“Sport­ing events can also be held – it has a run­ning track for ath­letes,” he said.

Built by the Pe­nang De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PDC), the sta­dium was later handed over to the Se­berang Prai Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil to be main­tained.

Be­tween 2012 and 2013, the Pe­nang Sports Coun­cil took over its man­age­ment but the PDC as­sumed the role in May 2014.

The an­nual main­te­nance of the sta­dium is about RM1.2mil.

PDC pro­mo­tions ex­ec­u­tive Wan Nur Izah Wan Nordin said af­ter tak­ing back the sta­dium four years ago, the cor­po­ra­tion dis­cov­ered that the sta­dium needed a lot of re­pairs. So, it was closed down for 18 months.

“We spent RM1.89mil to re­pair the rail­ings, the light­ing, goal posts, air-con­di­tion­ing and to ren­o­vate the toi­lets and food stalls.

“An ad­di­tional RM300,300 was spent to re­pair the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, re­plant the grass and an­other RM678,320 to re­pair the score­board, sound re­in­force­ment sys­tem, flood­lights and speak­ers.

“With all the up­grad­ing, we got the foot­ball field cer­ti­fied by the Fédéra­tion Internationale de Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (FIFA) last year.

“There are only two FIFA-cer­ti­fied foot­ball sta­di­ums in the coun­try, the other be­ing the Bukit Jalil Na­tional Sta­dium in Kuala Lumpur,” she said, adding that the PDC only gen­er­ated about RM600,000 from ren­tals and its fa­cil­i­ties a year.

“The elec­tric­ity to power up the flood­lights alone costs up to RM15,000 monthly,” said Wan Nur Izah.

“And we can­not sim­ply rent out the foot­ball field to any­body as we need to up­keep the field to FIFA stan­dards,” she said.

Wan Nur Izah said the sta­dium was closed last year as it was re­served by the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Pe­nang. It has since re­opened.

“We are plan­ning to hold a con­cert at the end of this year as the sta­dium has hosted sev­eral other non-foot­ball-re­lated events such as the Jom He­boh car­ni­val, as well as Toy­ota Ga­zoo and Petronas Club Prix races.”

Ac­cord­ing to www.pdc.gov.my web­site, the cost to rent the sta­dium for a day is be­tween RM8,000 and RM15,000.

Time cap­sule: Mo­tor­cy­clists rid­ing past the 2000 Sukma board fea­tur­ing the mas­cots of that event near the en­trance of the sta­dium in Batu Kawan.

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