New pictures from Ibadan will delight fans of the round leather game in Nigeria. The Lekan Salami Stadium is wearing a new look.
Lekan Salami Stadium is located opposite the law chambers of legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) in the Ibadan North West Local Government area of Ibadan, Oyo State capital, is a multi-use stadium which had played host to many outstanding football clubs and outstanding players in the country. The 33-year-old edifice has been used mostly for football matches and is the home stadium of Shooting Stars FC.
The stadium was named Lekan Salami Stadium in 1998 in honour of Chief Lekan Salami by the Oyo State Military Governor Hammed Usman.
Over the years, the fortunes of the stadium, which was the darling of many sports and football lovers after it became the second stadium in the ancient city after the Olubadan Stadium, however, started to wane owing to the lacklustre and lackadaisical attitude of successive governments towards maintenance of the recreational heritage.
During a particular administration, the grass on the pitch of the stadium had gone so bald that it compared to an ordinary playing field in any of the nation’s public schools. The pitch was always flooded during the rainy season while the roof of the spectators’ stand leaked due to the age of the roofing sheets. Another administration came and tried laying synthetic carpet on the pitch, as well as, the track section which was laid with red tartan tracks.
But a few years after the upgrade, the infrastructure became decrepit such that many sections of the track became tattered so much that track events became problematic for athletes. Some parts of the stadium went bushy to the extent that it attracted scathing criticisms from many stakeholders who felt that the glory of the stadium was gradually being wasted away.
Thus the potential of the sporting complex could not be optimally utilized due to rot and decay that had made most facilities in the complex go moribund. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration of Engr. Seyi Makinde proposed rehabilitation of the stadium by voting a budget of N5.5 billion for it. This decision turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The natural grass and studio section have been when completed. The seats have been increased to 10,000 because one of the FIFA rules is that for this stadium to be able to hold international matches.