Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is planning to alter the name of Lahore’s renowned Gaddafi Stadium, which was named after former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi over 50 years ago. However, the motive is not political, rather financial. Ramiz Raja, chairman of the PCB, informed ESPNcricinfo that the board was in advanced talks with a number of sponsors, one of which would earn the opportunity to have the stadium called after it.
Furthermore, there are reports that some other major stadia in the Asian country, including the National Stadium in Karachi, are set to be re-christened as sponsors line up for deals.
While there have been various attempts in the past to change the stadium’s name, they were always for political purposes. In February 2013, not long after Gaddafi’s demise, the Punjab Olympic Association petitioned the province chief minister to rename the stadium to reflect growing popular opposition to the deceased Libyan leader.
“We acquired the services of YouGov to estimate the brand worth of our stadia, and how much sponsorship deals would be worth,” Ramiz said. “That’s not just true of the Gaddafi Stadium, but also the NSK and others. We’ve been working towards this for a while, and the response from sponsors has been satisfactory. Once we finalise a deal [for Lahore], the name Gaddafi will go completely, with a sponsor’s name replacing it.”
The name of the Gaddafi stadium has been in existence since 1974. When it was first erected in 1959, the stadium was known as Lahore Stadium. However, when Gaddafi visited Lahore in 1974, he made a speech at the Organization of Islamic Conference in support of Pakistan’s right to seek nuclear weapons. It prompted Pakistan’s then-prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to name the country’s main cricket stadium after the Libyan leader.