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Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium set to be rechristened with new sponsor's name

Reasons behind the impending renaming are purely financial rather than political

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
The National Stadium in Karachi and other cricket stadia in Pakistan might also be renamed once sponsors are signed on  •  Getty Images

The National Stadium in Karachi and other cricket stadia in Pakistan might also be renamed once sponsors are signed on  •  Getty Images

The PCB is set to change the name of Lahore's iconic Gaddafi Stadium, nearly 50 years after it was named in honour of former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi. The reason, however, is not political. PCB chairman Ramiz Raja told ESPNcricinfo that the board was in advanced negotiations with a number of sponsors, one of which would win the right to have the stadium renamed after it.
While there have been several moves in the past to change the name of the stadium, those were for political reasons. In February 2013, not long after Gaddafi's death, the Punjab Olympic Association asked the provincial chief minister to rename the stadium in keeping with increasing public opinion against the former Libyan leader.
This time, though, it's purely financial. And the National Stadium in Karachi, as well as other major cricket stadia around the country, might also be renamed once sponsors are lined up.
"We acquired the services of YouGov 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."
The change in name, if and when it happens, will also mean the end for one of the quirkiest venue names in the cricket world. The stadium was originally named Lahore Stadium when it was built in 1959. But in 1974, when Gaddafi visited Lahore, he gave a speech in favour of Pakistan's right to pursue nuclear weapons at the Organisation of Islamic Conference. It led to the then prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, naming Pakistan's premier cricket stadium after the Libyan leader.
Over time, the stadium's name has evolved beyond the name of the politician that inspired it, and associations between the stadium and the president have long since been decoupled. The name is now seen more as a snapshot in time of the political climate in Pakistan of the 1970s rather than an endorsement for any particular kind of foreign policy.
When Gaddafi was ousted from power, there were strong suggestions Pakistan cricket might look to distance its most famous stadium from him, but that movement gradually fell away.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000