REFURBISHMENT of Bulawayo’s historic rugby ground, Hartsfield Rugby Ground, is set to get underway following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU), Matabeleland Rugby Football Board (MRFB) and Zimbabwean law firm Titan Law.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The iconic 80-year-old stadium, which is widely considered the ceremonial home of Zimbabwean rugby, is in a dilapidated state following years of neglect.
However, that is expected to be a thing of the past as the facility is set to undergo a major facelift ahead of hosting Zimbabwe’s blockbuster 2019 Rugby World Cup fixture against Namibia, which will be played at the venue on August 4.
It will be Namibia’s first 15s rugby match on Zimbabwean soil with the last meeting between the two teams in Zimbabwe dating way back to 2002, again in Bulawayo.
According to the terms of the MoU, whose copy is in the possession of Standardsport, Titan Law will commit at least $500 000 towards the refurbishment of Hartsfield Rugby Ground over the course of 2018.
The agreement will see the law firm taking over the naming rights of the stadium, which will be renamed “Titan Law Park” in terms of the arrangement set to run for at least a decade.
In line with modern trends, a private management company will run the affairs of Hartsfield; its shareholders being ZRU (40%), Sables Trust (40%) and MRB (20%); with a board of directors of five.
Former player and Bulawayo businessman Neil Nesbitt is slated to chair the management company with other directors from ZRU and MRFB being represented as well.
Former Zimbabwe rugby
international David Nash will spearhead the project team to oversee refurbishment at the ground, along with prominent Bulawayo lawyer Promise Ncube.
Kiggen Construction Company has been contracted for all the major works, which will include the construction of corporate boxes, individual seating and new grandstands around the ground.
A new family-oriented restaurant and a sports bar will be constructed later in the year; along with a high performance sports centre that should position Hartsfield as the major rugby ground in the country.
The latest developments at Hartsfield have been made possible by prominent lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa, who chairs the Sables Trust, a special body constituted to secure sponsorship support for the senior national rugby team.