Sri Lanka Cricket has covered the periphery of the Galle Stadium for the first time since 2012, sparking resentment among local spectators, some of whom would ordinarily watch portions of the game from outside the wire fence.
Corrugated iron sheets and SLC branding now obscure the view into the ground from the road outside. The vantage points from the fort ramparts, however, remain unobscured, though that is largely because of their height.
"The reason is that when you're playing the match, everyone can see the movement of vehicles going past, and the players get disturbed," SLC CEO Ashley de Silva said. "So we thought the best thing is to cover it up." De Silva also confirmed the board had not fielded any complaints from either players or paying spectators, but that "people need not make any complaints for us to take action."
In addition to those reasons, SLC has also said "new transmission technology" could be affected by sonic and visual disturbances from the road that surrounds the venue. A technician from series broadcaster Ten Sony has refuted that claim, however. There is no known reason why the noise from passing vehicles should interfere with broadcast technology.
The covering of the venue has also sparked particular consternation among some Galle residents, because the ground had been a free-to-use public park before the stadium was built. Non-paying spectators have grown accustomed to congregating beneath the trees on the ground's perimeter to catch passages of play. Those spectators would now either have to go to the fort ramparts for a more distant view of the match, or buy a day ticket, the cheapest of which sells for 200 Sri Lankan rupees ($1.30 approximately).
De Silva said sale of tickets was not SLC's motivation in blocking off the view.