- PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja says the decision to do so is due to financial reasons
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided to change the name of Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium for "financial reasons", nearly 50 years after it was named after former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi.
PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja told ESPNcricinfo that the cricket board was in “advanced negotiations” with a number of sponsors. The highest bidder would win the right to have the stadium renamed after it.
There have been a number of attempts in the past to change the name of the iconic stadium, but all of them were for political reasons, he said.
“However, this one is purely financial,” Ramiz told the publication, adding that other stadiums in the country, including the National Stadium Karachi (NSK), could also be renamed.
“We acquired the services of YouGov [a public opinion and data company] 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.”
It is worth noting that when the stadium was built in 1959, it was called Lahore Stadium. In 1974, on his visit to Lahore, Gaddafi delivered a speech at the Organization of Islamic Conference where he supported Pakistan's right to seek nuclear weapons. Following this, Pakistan's then-prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, changed the name of the premier cricket stadium to honour the Libyan leader.
When Gaddafi was deposed, there were strong suggestions that Pakistani cricket would want to disassociate itself from him, but this did not gain any traction.