Bulawayo looking at new venue amid Barbourfields Stadium questions

Bulawayo City Council has reportedly identified a site to develop a new stadium in Zimbabwe that conforms to the standards of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and world governing body FIFA.

The Herald newspaper said a recent council meeting considered the matter with Councillor Felix Mhaka asking if the city had plans to construct a new stadium. The minutes from the meeting read: “In response, the assistant director of housing and community services explained that considerations to construct a new modern stadium were underway. The stadium site had been identified.

“On the renovations of Barbourfields Stadium, he explained that the facility was constructed in 1950, the current requirements were indicating that the stadium should be demolished.”

Barbourfields Stadium (pictured), with a capacity of 24,000, is Zimbabwe’s second largest football stadium and home to local Premier League club Highlanders, but its long-term future has been in question of late. The Ministry of Sport last month sought to allay fears that it will be demolished amid the need for significant improvements to meet CAF and FIFA standards.

Bulawayo City Council owns the venue and had been instructed to completely redevelop it to meet modern standards. However, principal director at the Ministry of Sport, Benson Dube, said it would be improved owing to its historic significance, adding that a new stadium could be built in Bulawayo if there was a need for a larger facility.

The Chronicle newspaper added that the installation of new seating alone at Barbourfields will slash its capacity in half to 12,000. CAF president Ahmad Ahmad this week reiterated that the drive to enhance stadia across Africa would continue, and could even be intensified to meet safety needs amid COVID-19.

Image: Highlanders