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Thatscricket - News - Tug of war over SL newest stadium

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Colombo: The fate of Sri Lanka's newest international cricket venue remained uncertain on Thursday with the cricket Board and Buddhist monks who own the site divided on whether a tri-nation tournament could be played there.A spokesman for the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) issued a statement on Tuesday saying no matches would be played at the Dambulla Stadium until a dispute over its ownership was settled.The Rs 300 million ($ 3.3 million) stadium was built on land owned by a Buddhist temple, and monks in the area have threatened to take to the streets if matches are not played there.India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka were originally due to play at Dambulla next month and the Board has not yet announced an alternate venue.Sources said members of the board were now in two minds about staging the tournament, after pressure was put on them by the monks, to reconsider. The Dambulla Stadium built in a record 150 days and at a cost of Rs 300 million ($ 3.3 million). It was the venue for the first One-day International between Sri Lanka and England on March 25.The monks maintain they leased the property to the then-cricket board, the members of which have since been dismissed by Sports Minister Lakshman Kiriella.The minister has accused the previous cricket Board management of financial irregularities, and the construction of the Dambulla Stadium is the subject of a probe.However the monks argue everything was done above board. Sri Lanka's Buddhist Affairs Ministry had raised doubts over the legality of a temple leasing its property to the BCCSL to build the stadium.The stadium was initiated by former head of the cricket Board, Thilanga Sumathipala, whose elected Board was sacked by Sports Minister Kiriella in March.The cricket Board is currently embroiled in several court cases over the dismissal of Sumathipala's management team as well the minister's action to appoint an interim panel.

AFP
Copyright AFP 2001

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