Moshood Abiola National Stadium (formerly known as National Stadium, Abuja) is a multipurpose national sports stadium located in Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The stadium serves as a home to the Nigerian national football team, as well as a center for various social, cultural, and religious events. The Federal Government of Nigeria approved the contract for the construction of the National Stadium complex and Games Village on 18 July 2000.

The stadium was constructed to host the 8th All Africa Games which took place in October 2003. On 12 June 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the change of the name of the National Stadium, Abuja to Moshood Abiola National Stadium. President Buhari made this pronouncement during his speech at the Democracy Day celebration on Wednesday at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

Moshood Abiola National Stadium main bowl is designed to accommodate 60,491 spectator seats covered by a lightweight roof construction. The main characteristics are the two overlapping spectator tiers; the lower tier accommodating 32,000 seats and the upper tier 28,000 seats. The lower tier also incorporates 56 corporate suites with viewing terraces and one presidential lounge for 50 guests. All functional and secondary areas are accommodated in the entrance building which provides a gross floor area of approximately 25,000 m². This building is arranged below the concourse level which serves as the spectators‘ distribution level and therefore provides several kiosks, banks, first aid stations and toilet buildings.

The structure of the stadium is a combination of insitu and precast concrete elements. There are 36 towers supporting the upper tier and the roof structure. These towers are founded on 140 bored piles with diameters of 1.30 m and 1.50 m in a depth of 8.00 m to 30.00 m. Precast concrete elements varying between 13 and 15 meters in length are placed between the towers, forming the spectator stands. A total of 6,300 precast elements were produced in the company’s production yard 15 kilometers away. The towers are connected on the top by a 2.50 m high and 2.00 m wide hollow concrete ring beam with a wall thickness of 0.35 m. The roof structure is fixed on 36 massive concrete points to the ring-beam. For the first time in the world, the ringbeam for this kind of roof structure was made of concrete. The roof structure itself is a cable construction with a weight of 800 tons carrying a 28.000 m² membrane.

HISTORY OF THE STADIUM

Although Nigeria had several stadiums scattered throughout the country, there was a lack of stadiums that met international standards. The capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, was selected to host the 8th All Africa Games in 2000 (a regional multi-sport event held every four years, organized by the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa) despite having no facilities for such a major sporting event. The Federal Government of Nigeria embarked on a multimillion-dollar project for the construction of a state-of-the-art stadium and games village to be completed in time to host the All Africa Games. The contract was awarded on 18 July 2000 from a choice list of about 80 different bidders. Construction of the complex was initiated.

Citizens and athletes had doubts as to whether the completion of the stadium was feasible before the games. However, construction went very smoothly and ended up being ahead of schedule. As a matter of fact, the stadium was scheduled to be the host center for the Miss World Beauty Pageant that took place later in 2002. Unfortunately, the stadium not being fully completed by then as well as an uprising amongst citizens especially in the northern city of Kaduna which resulted in loss of lives forced the pageant to relocate to London, England. The construction of the main bowl went on from its inception in September 2000 to its completion in April 2003, well in time for the games. The Games Village construction went on from September 2000 to August 2003.

The official commissioning of the complex was on 8 April 2003. Following its commissioning was the final leg of preparations for the games. The games that year were the largest in All Africa Games history; 6,000 athletes from 53 countries competed in 22 sports, watched over by 1,200 officials. Over 1,500 journalists reported for the world’s media. The games took place from the 4th to 18 October 2003 and was deemed successful by many. The host country, Nigeria, accumulated a total of 226 medals, emerging as leader of the games that year.

Apart from the All African Games, the stadium has hosted important football matches, such as World Cup qualifiers between Nigeria and other countries. The first game played at the stadium was a football (soccer) match between two local rival teams; the Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Sunshine Stars of Akure on 8 April 2003 The first goal scored in the complex was from Shooting Stars’ striker Shakiru Lawal who scored the only goal of the game after just five minutes.

The complex has given the country confidence to bid for various up-coming international events. The Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB) has given the Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF) the provisional hosting rights of the 2007 World Youth Championship because of the facilities the stadium has.

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