First steps towards the return of Sugathadasa race track

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Sugathadasa synthetic track

Relaying of the Sugathadasa synthetic track which has been dysfunctional since 2011 commenced ceremonially today (14th), with the participation of the Hon. Minister of Sport Dayasiri Jayasekara and other dignitaries. This project is expected to cost 244 million rupees and is expected to be completed by December this year.

Sugathadasa Stadium served as the country’s premier center for athletics since its inception. The first synthetic track at the stadium was placed in 1997 becoming the Islands first ever synthetic running track.  This track was relayed in the years 2002 and 2011.  However, the track that was built in 2011 became a center point of many controversies as it started to deteriorate within months after being relayed.  Since then the track at Sugathdasa stadium has been completely dysfunctional and this dealt a huge blow to the advancement of athletics in the country.

The relaying of the track was scheduled to commence mid-year but was delayed as the awarding of the tender had to be passed through two tender boards with the initial awarding of the tender being challenged by a losing bidder.  The relaying project has now been awarded to a joint venture between local construction giants Access group and the Swiss based CONICA Sports Flooring Company which boasts of 4 decades of experience in the industry.

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Speaking at the ceremony Chairman of the Access group Mr. Sumal Perera stated  that “We (Access Group) are a private sector company who during its 27 years of existence has been totally and utterly committed to the development of sport at company mercantile and National level, so this opportunity and challenge given to us to execute this nationally important project is taken with a lot of responsibility and commitment ” He thanked Minister Jayasekara for his enthusiasm towards the project and guaranteed their commitment for successful completion “while thanking the Hon. Minister for his initiative and enthusiasm in ensuring among many obstacles to go ahead with this project I assure him that we as a company will carry out our responsibility to its maximum and beyond.”

Hon. Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayaeskara who has been at the receiving end of many queries and complains explained about the plans that have already commenced and are in the pipe line for Sugathadasa stadium.

“This stadium has not been modified or renovated for close to 25 years. In 2016 a sum of 760 million rupees was allocated for the re-modification of the stadium. There was a huge problem at the Sugathadasa Indoor stadium due to a water leak from the wash rooms, we have done the necessary repairs which costed 28 million rupees. The washrooms were completely in disarray and all of that was fixed entirely at a cost of 44 million. The sports hostel was in bad shape, where using it was almost impossible. We have spent a sum of 160 million rupees to completely renovate it which will be completed by December this year. The need of an administration building was a big requirement and an amount of 31 million has been allocated for this while the staff quarters of the work force will be facilitated with a new building and an amount of 57 million has been kept aside for this. 135 million has been spent on the indoor stadium facility.”  

He also spoke about the criticism that the Ministry of Sports had to face due to the delay in commencing the work on the race track “There were many problems that we had to face, we had to go for two tender boards, I am sad that there were many interpretations amongst different parties, but we never doubted our officials. They worked tirelessly to execute the tasks in the correct manner. The ministry did not have any favoured company or business but what we wanted was to make sure the track will be done properly because if that is not done properly there is no point in any of the things we do and this shouldn’t be like the track that was put up here in 2011. We will somehow systematically build a track that can be used for at least 10 years and we will be able to put a stop to the biggest complaint from our athletes”

With both senior and junior athletes of the country set for a packed year of international meets next year,  it will be crucial that the synthetic track at Sugathadasa stadium at least be ready at the beginning of next year, giving the athletes enough time to prepare for the international tests. Athletic Association of Sri Lanka recently confirmed that they are planning to hold the junior South Asian games in Sri Lanka at Sugathdasa. ThePapare.com is thrilled that the work of the long neglected Sugathadasa track is finally underway and will be keeping a keen eye on the proceedings.