Many sporting stakeholders heaved a sigh of relief after President Uhuru Kenyatta reopened the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday afternoon after a three-year closure.
When it was shut down in 2017 for renovations, the stadium was a case study of what a stadium ought not to be – some quarters even describing it as a grazing field.
Now, the 37-year old facility is a case study of the direction that the Sports Kenya should be following with regards to management of stadia in the country.
Nyayo Stadium has risen from the ashes like a phoenix; it may not be at par with the Wembleys, Camp Nous and Santiago Bernabeus of this world but is much improved from the Nyayo Kenyans used to know.
From the outside, what stands out is the new lobby that is adorned by a glittering glass tower.
From an aerial view, the stadium seats resemble a collage or montage of the Kenyan flag colours of red, black and green. However, this ambience is not the only thing about the 30,000 seats in the refurbished facility.
“When you book a ticket, it indicates the specific seat number on which you must sit. If any seat assigned to you is damaged, we will track you easily and you will account for the loss,” Metto says.
This should be bad news for criminal elements that have for so long taken out their anger over referee decisions on the stadium’s facilities, resulting in millions of property losses and damage.
To make matters worse for these agents of doom, the new Nyayo is fitted with security cameras in most areas to keep vigilance. This is not only to curb cases of hooliganism but also to ensure that fans and other stakeholders feel secure whenever in the stadium.
In the past, privacy was alien to many athletes who would usually undergo doping tests before competitions. This has changed with the construction of an anti-doping room to ensure that they can provide samples away from prying eyes.
Another addition to the refurbished facility is four additional dressing rooms – two on both sides of the pitch as well as two separate referee rooms.
Each of these dressing rooms has lockers that are fitted with modern security safes to secure players’ valuables while on the pitch.