After SEA Games, Jakabaring Stays Lively With Regular Events

From sports tournaments to picnics, the $226-million stadium has become a destination for Indonesians

A motorcycle passes by in front of the athlete village of Jakabaring Sports City, Palembang, South Sumatra. (JG Photo)

A motorcycle passes in front of the athletes’ village of Jakabaring Sport City, in Palembang, South Sumatra. (JG Photo)

South Sumatra has developed a series of events to keep Jakabaring Sport City alive in response to years of criticism over the prolonged usefulness of the massive complex, first used for the Southeast Asian Games in 2011.

The South Sumatran government and the provincial sports committee (Konida) have collaborated to host events at the 325-hectare complex in an effort to turn it into a destination for lndonesians.

In addition to local tournaments, international sporting events have also been held in Jakabaring since the 2011 Games, such as the Asian Aerobic Gymnastics Championship last October, Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup last November, Triathlon Premium Asian Cup in March and this month’s Asia Pacific Beach Volleyball Tournament.

Indonesian volleyball players Andy Ardiansyah and Dian Putra Santosa lost to Australia’s Sam Boehm and Cole Durant during the men’s final.

The Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup will return to Jakabaring’s artificial lake this weekend, featuring participants from 27 countries.

South Sumatra Konida chairman Muddai Madang said bringing events to Jakabaring is part of a larger effort endorsed by the provincial government to help maintain the complex, which cost Rp 2.2 trillion ($226 million) to construct.

“It is very common in Indonesia to build sporting facilities and leave them neglected rather than maintain them. We do not want this to happen again. We have world-class sporting facilities that we should not waste,” Muddai told The Jakarta Globe. “Yes, we were questioned by the House [of Representatives] if we can maintain the asset. This is how we answer the challenge.”

Bringing in international events is not easy, Muddai said, adding that the government allocates a lot of funding and Konida networks with international sporting groups to host the competitions at Jakabaring.

“Such strong teamwork and commitment from the government and Konida are needed to meet the goal. I hope [the maintenance] can still be successful by the next leaders,” he said.

Jakabaring has also been the center of development of Indonesian athletes in South Sumatra. Since February 2012, local athletes of six sports have been staying in the controversial athletes’ village, where a corruption case involving former lawmaker Angelina Sondakh still shadows the area.

“They stay and get training here in Jakabaring everyday. They go to school located outside of the sports complex in the morning. They are all supported by the government,” Ahmad Yani, an official of the athletes’ village independent organizing body, told The Jakarta Globe.

The independent body is in charge in maintaining the athletes’ village, which was built using funds from the state government budget before being handed over to the local government.

The body said it has struggled to keep up with the village’s regular expenses, such as electricity bills. That is why, Muddai said, the body’s marketing team is now offering to rent out the complex, mostly to companies.

“They often hold corporate events in the athletes’ village. We allocate the income for maintenance,” he said. “We need approximately Rp 500 million a month for the maintenance, mostly spent on electricity.”

Jakabaring has become a place for local people to hang out with friends and families, Muddai said, adding that people can be seen strolling the area and having picnics on weekends.

Recently, Jakabaring set up a big screen in front of the main stadium where people could watch an English Premier League match on the lawn.

“That is why we need to keep the complex green,” Muddai said.

Muddai added that Jakabaring will keep growing as the new destination for both sports and non-sports events, as plans to build a sports institute, an Islamic center and the Islamic University of Raden Fatah are underway.

“We want Jakabaring to become not only a sports destination in South Sumatra, but also in Indonesia. That is our dream,” he said.