When Cambodia won the rights to host the 2023 SEA Games it was under the provision that certain infrastructure was built, such as a national stadium. This led to the Chinese graciously building the Morodok Techo National Stadium on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
But, with the games now at an end, what if any future does the stadium have, or will it become the biggest white elephant in the country?
Building the Morodok Techo National Stadium
The Morodok Techo National Stadium (ពហុកីឡដ្ឋានជាតិមរតកតេជោ) is the centerpiece of the Morodok Sports Complex, which features a swimming pool, as well as a number of other sporting buildings.
Construction of the complex began 10 years ago, while the main work on the stadium itself started in 2017, being finished in 2022 just in time for the AFF Under 22 Championship, for which it hosted.
The stadium was then a part showpiece for the 2023 SEA Games hosting both the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, cricket and a whole heap of other sports. Notably though, it did not host any football.
Overall though the stadium, the complex and even the media centre were considered a success and the $160 million stadium stood as a shining pillar to the development of Cambodia.
And then it all ended, leaving the question, what to do next?
Why was there no football at the Morodok during the SEA Games?
With football being the biggest and arguably the most important sport at the SEA Games, it shocked and indeed annoyed some that no games were to take place here.
In actuality though this was an extremely smart move, particularly after the AFF Championship of 2022. At this tournament even when Cambodia were playing at home, if only 30,000 fans turned up the stadium looked half empty, rather than half full.
And were Cambodia not playing seeing 300 people watching Laos vs Timor in a 60,000 seat venue was frankly embarrassing.
The National Olympic Stadium is the home of football
Combine this with the distance and time it takes to get to The Morodok then the decision to not only renovate the National Olympic Stadium, but move almost all of the football here was genius.
All games that Cambodia played in were sold out and the central location meant that even smaller games ended up with a respectable attendance.
The place also oozes atmosphere and history, which even included helping North Korea reach the world cup of 1966.
To read about Cambodia helping North Korea reach the World Cup click here.
And said non-use for football would continue after the games as well, with the Cambodian League Cup final not being held at the Morodok and there being no plans to host the Super Cup, or Hun Sen Cup.
The Future of the Mordodok Techo Stadium
With the number one sport of the country, namely football unlikely to be hosted at the Morodok this brings up the elephant in the room of what will actually on with the stadium and what it might be used for?
Rumors for a while had persisted that it might be sold privately, something which may still happen, although what the Chinese might think about this is anyones guess. Some had suggested that it might be brought and used by a football club, but again with top sides like Phnom Penh Crown and Visakha only managing a few thousand fans a game, this also seems unlikely.
From a porting point off view this itself leaves few options, save keeping it for when, or if Cambodia were to actually host a World Cup, or Olympics – although again even were this to happen it is unlikely to be any time soon.
This essentially leaves just one idea that could make the stadium profitable and that would be hosting concerts. Until the building of the Morodok Techo Stadium there had not been a venue that could have potentially hosted concerts for some of the biggest names in the world.
Well now we not only have the venue, but an increasingly young and large middle-class. All we need now is a forward thinking entrepreneurial event planner and perhaps the Morodkok can be a national treasure, rather than a white elephant.
This article is adapted from BPVE, (https://bpve.com/) reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (https://www.cambodiasportsreview.com/)
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