SLanka scraps $40mn cricket stadium on advice of top players

Colombo (AFP) –


Sri Lanka's prime minister Thursday scrapped plans for a $40 million cricket stadium after local legends of the game warned it would end up a white elephant.

Former captains Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene slammed the proposed grounds near the capital Colombo, saying the money would be better spent supporting young players.

"It was decided at a meeting with former top players today that instead of the proposed Homagama stadium it was better to spend money on building school cricket," the PM Mahinda Rajapaksa's office said in a statement.

Information and Higher Education minister Bandula Gunawardana had proposed the controversial stadium, which was to be built in his local constituency.

The governing body Sri Lanka Cricket had backed his plan and there was speculation it could fund the project using international loans.

During strongman Rajapaksa's decade as president between 2005 and 2010, he built a 35,000-capacity international cricket stadium in his home constituency of Hambantota.

But the arena in the south of the island nation has become a white elephant, with no Test matches played on the grounds.

The stadium, named after him, hosted a one-day international between Sri Lanka and West Indies in February after Rajapaksa became prime minister in November under his president brother Gotabaya.