St Mary’s stadium in Kitende, along Kampala- Entebbe road, set a new landmark last Saturday.
It was the first privately owned facility in Uganda, to host a Caf club game. And to crown the occasion, Vipers SC beat South African side Platinum Stars 1-0.
However, the new stadium, sitting on nine acres, illuminated imaginations. With both stands covered to protect spectators from rain, the busy boda-boda cyclists making a quick harvest, and the food hubs (nyama choma) were just a sideshow to the real deal at the stadium.
The stadium has a director’s box for 15 dignitaries, is demarcated by a glass screen, and it is the first of this kind in the country. It also has hostels for players in camp, making the prospects exciting, as was the vociferous atmosphere created by the Kitende students, who cheered the team from start to finish. It was deafening.
But it pushed the team into relentless attacking, something rare even amongst Cranes fans. These students created a carnival atmosphere.
However, for the fans denied entry into the stadium by the police, to control numbers, they missed out on this grandeur. Vipers official Haruna Kyobe said they had to refund some fans’ money after realizing there was no space left inside the stadium.
Some fans in the pavilion got no seats and stood at exit points, something Kyobe promised they had found a solution to for future games. Yet, finding a solution for the Entebbe road traffic jam may be harder.
This could affect numbers to the stadium in future. That is why the feeder road connecting from Kajjansi (Kawoto) straight to the stadium, and the ones of Sisa and Lumuli, off the Expressway, connecting right at the junction heading up to St Mary’s SS Kitende were handy.
Such spectators’ determination should equally encourage Lawrence Mulindwa, the proprietor, to get on with the second phase of this stadium project.
Another 10,000-seater stand behind the goal to the left of the pavilion is in the pipeline, to bring the stadium capacity to 30,000.
Floodlights and other amenities are lined up too. For example, a recreation centre outside the stadium is planned, to make St Mary’s stadium a true family experience.