Thursday, September 06, 2007


Stadiums in Jakarta

Persija Jakarta are a big club with a giant fan base. Approximately 40,000 people are members of their supporters’ club, The Jakmania. It may not be on a par with teams like Manchester United or Real Madrid but it is still pretty substantial. The crowds milling round the stadium at half time during yesterday’s game against PSIS represent revenue wasted as the club count the costs of various fines imposed because of crowd behaviour plus of course the not unsubstantial costs in hiring foreign players. Lebuk Bulus, with an official capacity of 12,500 is plainly insufficient to meet the needs of the capital city’s premier club.

There are plans to develop the South Jakarta stadium and increase the capacity to 30,000 but again one can’t help but wonder if that is big enough. Persija fans often made up about one third of the support during the recent Asian Cup and at the Liga Indonesia final back in 2005 some 80,000 fans were cheering on the home team. Of course as the stadium increases in capacity so the crowd control measures increase and as Lebuk Bulus has shown even small crowds present difficulties. Any increase in capacity needs to be in tandem with improved security and crowd control measures.

Gelora Bung Karno is Indonesia’s national stadium but with a capacity of 88,000 is probably too much for regular Liga games. Its location, right in the heart of Jakarta’s CBD, isn’t conducive to regular large crowds and the 5 * hotels would soon be up in arms with thousands of football fans roaming the streets every match day. Likewise, Lebuk Bulus, while located next to a freeway and near to the projected Jakarta mass transit system, is well served for transport ( a relative term in Jakarta) but being in well to do South Jakarta it’s surprising the NIMBYs haven’t made more noise.

The old Menteng Stadium also suffered from its location. Slap bang in the heart of old money Jakarta, minutes from the swanky malls of Thamrin and Embassy land, this heritage site is no more. Nearby is a stadium in Kuningan but again the area is oh so middle class and the facilities are worse than Lebuk Bulus. The nomadic Persitara North Jakarta have had a couple of homes recently but neither would suit for Persija. Tugu is far too small while Muara Kamal, their present home, has problems with access.

It would perhaps make economic sense were Persija to get involved with the University Indonesia in developing their new40,000 capacity stadium but economic sense doesn’t equal political sense as Depok, a Jakartan overspill, is a city of it’s own right in a different province.

Probably renovating Lebuk Bulus is the best of a meager bunch of options. There is little enough space in Jakarta for anything other than a mall and moving out of town is probably not a serious option though it has happened before. (Both Sriwijaya and Pelita Jaya originally started life in Jakarta). Places like Sleman, home of PSS, and Soerang, where Persikab Bandung District play, have shown the way forward. It’s a nonsense the country’s capital city can’t provide an adequate venue for it’s biggest team.

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