The Nigerian national football team, known as the “Super Eagles”, is one of the most successful in Africa; having reached the last sixteen of a FIFA World Cup three times, being Olympic champions in 1996 and, more recently, having won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. And, since the end of last year, they have also had an ultra-modern new ground to call ‘home’ in the form of the Akwa Ibom Stadium, which fully complies with European safety standards and FIFA recommendations.
With 30,000 covered seats and a transparent façade made of backlit acrylic glass, not only does the venue stage international football matches, but also plays host to major social, cultural and religious events.
The Akwa Ibom Stadium is situated in Uyo, the capital of the Nigerian federal state of Akwa Ibom, and is the first building to be completed in the Uyo Sports Park, whose facilities will also eventually include an indoor swimming pool, a multi-purpose hall, a driving range for golfers, basketball pitches and tennis courts.
The stadium, which covers an area of around 48 hectares and has 2,500 directly adjacent parking spaces, was designed by the German company Julius Berger International from Wiesbaden, with responsibility for the construction and execution laying with Julius Berger Nigeria; one of the biggest construction companies in the West African state, with 16,000 employees.
Construction engineers decided on a concrete skeleton, with steel trussed girders forming the load-bearing elements for the façade and roof. The translucent elliptical envelope around the spectator seating area was made from 15mm acrylic glass; the façade of the grandstand likewise consists of acrylic glass, but features vertical panels to form a counterpart to the elliptical external envelope. When it’s dark, ultra-modern energy-saving LED technology is used to light up the stadium in virtually every colour spectrum; in the national colours of the respective opposing team, for example.
The spectator areas provide seating for 22,500 people, with the grandstand holding 7,500 spectators, including VIP boxes for 30 to 40 people. The athletes’ changing rooms have also been accommodated in the grandstand, as have the commentary boxes, administrative offices and stadium surveillance systems. The technical installations are also noteworthy, with a digital floodlighting system, two digital scoreboards and LED video screens, the stadium boasts state-of-the-art technology. A helicopter landing pad is also planned, but is yet to be built. The venue also boasts some unique features, including bullet-proof VIP/VVIP sections, collapsable seats and 30 emergency exits.
The “Super Eagles” play football on real grass, whilst competitions and training sessions for track and field athletes are held on synthetic surfaces from Polytan. For the 400m circular track with eight lanes, the German sports surface specialist installed around 9,500sqm of Polytan M in classic brick red. Furthermore, the fast and optimally cushioned surface used in Uyo is IAAF Class 1-certified, which means that the water-impermeable synthetic surface is suitable for top-flight international athletics events with recognised records. A six-lane training track likewise consists of Polytan M and is situated outside the stadium.
The stadium’s opening ceremony was held on November 7, 2014, and this multi-purpose venue has already proved its worth, having hosted Nigeria v South Africa in the African Championships. The acoustics were also tested shortly before Christmas, during the “9,999 Singers at Christmas Choral Night” event and the running tracks were put through their paces during the AKS/NNPC/MPN Schools Athletics Championships in early March.