Sooriyawewa stadium nuptials end

Friday, 26 February 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SLC says weddings 

at H’tota stadium are a 

thing of the past

By Madushka Balasuriya

Sri Lanka Cricket yesterday denied reports the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Sooriyawewa would be rented out for weddings under the present administration, claiming that Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera’s statement in Parliament on Tuesday was misinterpreted.

In response to a question by MP Hesha Withanage in Parliament, Jayasekera had claimed that the stadium was being used for weddings, however SLC sources clarified to the Daily FT that the Sports Minister was only referring to what the stadium was being used for in the past. The Sooriyawewa Stadium was built ahead of the World Cup in 2011, which Sri Lanka co-hosted, at a cost of Rs. 4.2 billion. Since then a grand total of 22 matches have been played there; 3 in 2011, 8 in 2012, 6 in 2013, 4 in 2014, and the final one in July 2015. By comparison the R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo, during that same time period, held nearly double that.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was Opposition Leader at the time, went on the record as saying that the Rs. 4.2 billion cost was four times what architects had estimated the stadium would cost. Then Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who is currently being investigated on charges of money laundering and fraud by the FCID, was accused by Wickremesinghe of misleading Parliament with false figures.

According to Jayasekara, weddings had been held at the stadium since then to recoup the cost of building it. However a source, when asked if there were any plans to hold weddings at the Sooriyawewa stadium at any point in the future, said: “No. The stadium is currently not being used, but we’re not going to host weddings there. The Sports Minister was referring to previous instances where weddings had been held.”

The idea of weddings being held at cricket stadiums is not unique to Sri Lanka, both the ‘Home of Cricket’ Lords and the Oval in Surrey host wedding receptions, while English Premier League outfit Swansea City also offer their stadium for bridal parties. And they can be quite lucrative affairs, with a wedding at Lords going into the thousands of pounds. Though none of them allow the ground itself to be rented out, which is not something that can be said for the Khadda Market hockey stadium in Karachi, where lawn weddings are commonplace.