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Stadium nears completion

Stadium nears completion

A view of the new indoor stadium on the Chhroy Changvar peninsula. Building work on the 1,500-seat, multi-sports arena is hoped to be finished by next month. Sreng Meng Srun

Cambodia’s first state-of-the-art, multi-purpose indoor stadium is fast nearing completion on a strategically located piece of land close to the Japan Friendship Bridge on the Chhroy Changvar peninsula.

Work on the US$3 million arena, which measures up to international competition standards, began in February, 2010.

Wholly owned by Banzai Cambodia, an event management company based in Phnom Penh, the 1,500-seat stadium, with a built-in area of 3,000 square metres and all-round parking space, is expected to be operational by mid-February.

The project is the brainchild of Belgian duo Eric Delacollette and Stephane Devos, equal partners in Banzai, which is on the verge of finalising a five-year lease deal on naming rights with a corporate client.

“The platform for seating has already been created. Once work on the roofing is complete, surfacing and interior decoration will be taken up. Going by the current pace of work, we should be ready for an official opening some time next month,” Delacollette told the Post in an exclusive interview at the stadium site last week.

The most striking feature of this multi-dimensional sports facility is its 16-metre-high arching roof with polycarbonate cover to keep the bulging portion down the middle transparent.

A sky-blue, 9mm-thick polyurethane surface, which is shock-absorbing, robust and durable, fills up the standard 21- by 34-metre playing arena.

“What we have here matches the best synthetic surface anywhere in the world,” Delacollette said.

Comfortable plastic seats with armrests and drink holders will be in place for about 1,500 spectators, and there is  standing room for an additional 3,000.

Three vantage entry points to the playing arena have also been created with crowd control and easy access to the public in mind. “It is easy for the spectators to quickly assemble and disperse,” Delacollette said.

The facility is replete with an air-conditioned mezzanine level, where a spacious lounge bar has been set up on either side of a special VIP box to provide exclusivity for special guests and dignitaries.

There are two sizeable changing rooms for competing teams, a referees’ room and an infirmary.

“On the top of it all we want to create a healthy and exciting shopping experience for visitors. We will have a row of shops of all kinds in and around the facility, including food courts,” Delacollette said.

“In accordance with international specifications of one toilet for every 150 people, we have an adequate number for public use.”

The former Belgian U18 football international revealed the inspiration for the project had came from hosting the Phnom Penh Post mini-soccer league at his previous enterprise, Kidzcool Children & Family Fun Village.

“From there, it just kept getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

“What we want is year-round activity, not just one-off sporting events. It can be anything from futsal to cricket, pop to parties. It’s open to every sport and event that can stay indoors.”

A national futsal league is in the offing, and something similar has been planned for volleyball. But the most important breakthrough has been achieved by Bokator.

This ancient Cambodian martial art will almost be given temporary-residence status at the stadium, with a competition planned every month.

The Bokator Federation of Cambodia has warmly welcomed this initiative as a big boost for the sport.

“We don’t want to hold back anyone from using our facility. Tennis, cricket, hockey, boxing, anything. We are an events-management company, and the more events we stage, the merrier,”  Delacollette said.

Meanwhile, the infant Cricket Association of Cambodia is contemplating making a limited use of the indoor facility.

Similarly, the Cambodian Hockey Federation, which has been struggling to find a suitable outdoor location, may well book some indoor sessions for the shorter, more skills-based variety of the sport.