The Harare City Council (HCC) insists Rufaro Stadium will be ready to be re-opened in the second week of April just before the 2017 Castle Lager Premiership season commences
The 2017 top flight season is scheduled to start sometime next month with two sides Dynamos and Harare City mainly using the facility.
The other Harare-based side CAPS United normally uses the National Sports Stadium as their home ground.
Since 2008, the stadium has had an artificial turf which was installed courtesy of the Fifa Win in Africa With Africa programme but over the years, the pitch had deteriorated.
Although it provides a reasonably level playing surface, an artificial turf is supposed to be maintained regularly by combing it with a specialised tractor while rubber granules are spread all over.
Most players were now complaining due to the hard surface while others were aggravating old injuries.
After listening to the concerns of both the players and clubs, HCC decided for the Rufaro paying surface to revert back to natural grass.
Harare generates a lot of revenue by hosting top flight and even international matches at the venue since they are guaranteed a 30 percent stake in any revenue generated by gate receipts. Council will spend a total of $80 000 to ensure the new natural grass surface at the venue is up to the standard required by both Fifa and Caf.
However, it seemed like there was not much progress in the work with Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere earlier this month complaining about the slow pace of the stadium’s turf resurfacing.
Acting Harare town clerk Josephine Ncube, acting director of Housing and Community Service Major Mathew Marara and other council officials yesterday toured the venue.
After the tour, Ncube assured the Harare-based sides they will be able to use the stadium when the league kicks off.
“We hope by the second week of April this turf will be ready to be played on during any game and we are happy that our stakeholders will be welcome to a new turf at Rufaro Stadium,” Ncube said.
“As you are aware, our stakeholders raised concern with the state of the artificial turf and council then made a decision which in my view is a good decision; to replace the artificial turf with natural grass.”
Work on the new natural turf commenced at the start of this month but according to Ncube they were delayed because it took long to strip off the artificial turf forcing council to hire reinforcements.
“It has taken us a bit of time because it took us a while to remove the artificial turf itself; it was quite a job,” she said.
“We had to get people from the local community, who we employed on a casual basis to help us remove the artificial turf.
“We also had to put a lot of soil; almost a 100 truckloads of soil over the concrete which was holding onto the artificial turf.
“We are happy now that the grass has been planted and as you can see, we are now irrigating the turf. What is now left is to level it and we will soon be bringing in a roller to level it out as soon as the ground holds a bit