The Obed Itani Chilume Stadium is set for a major facelift with plans for a 40 000 seating capacity and roofing already at an advanced stage.
This was revealed by Tuelo Serufho, Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana National Sports Commission during a media update on the upgrades completed at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown.
Last year, all four Botswana stadiums, Lobatse, Molepolole, Obed Itani Chilume and National Stadium, failed category three Confederation of African Football inspections, granting them green light to only host AFCON qualifiers.
BNSC has been working towards renovations of the OIC stadium in preparation for the CAF category three stage.
On Monday, Serufho provided a media tour of the stadium, showcasing the completion of all the elements of the stadium that CAF required be corrected as well as the last revision on the re-modelling list and international dug out benches.
“When we failed CAF category three inspections on all of our stadiums at the end of last year, we decided to focus our renovations on the OIC stadium which required fewer renovations, and today I am happy to announce that we have completed all that was required to be placed on category three,” Serufho said.
He revealed that some of the components that caused the stadium to fail the inspection and were required to renovate were, to place signage so people know where to go, to build a media room, to cut the grass to a size of 30mm as theirs was more than that, to have spare goal posts and provide furniture in CAF offices and other offices in the stadium, and finally, to replace the dugout benches as the old ones were too old and dangerous to the players.
The organisation spent four million pula on all of this.
Since they have now achieved category three and are also bidding for AFCON 2027, a plan is in the works to expand the OIC stadium by increasing its capacity to 40 000 from its original 26 000 and also roof it in order to move to category four, which will now allow the stadium to host CAF games up to their finals.
“Our physical plan, which is very beautiful, will see our stadium covered and more seats built to make it an international stadium rather than a continental status stadium, which will host big games such as the AFCON final.”
In his remarks, Francistown’s Mayor, Godisang Radisigo, stated that he was worried about the costs charged when attempting to hire the stadium for other events and tasked the BNSC CEO the assignment of going back to the drawing board and reviewing their prices.