Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Chairperson of MOD Seva Vanitha Unit Mrs. Ioma Rajapaksa also attended the opening ceremony.
Secretary Defence and the distinguished invitees inspected all anew facilities on completion of the unveiling of the plaque by Hon Chamal Rajapaksa during the event.
Entire project, a brainchild of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and under the Colombo's modernization and beautification the renovation of the Racecourse was taken up. Under the purview of Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans were drawn-up and tasked the Urban Development Authority along with the Sri Lanka Army for the process. Thus old Colonial dilapidated structure became a modernized reality today. Army's 6th Engineer Services Regiment and Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau completed the project while preserving it's original architectural features.
Having established while retaining its historic importance and architectural uniqueness, the new refurbished Racecourse Grandstand comprises a pavilion, restaurants, dress boutiques, sport shops, handy craft and gift shops.
The previous race track has now been converted into an international rugby play ground and will be the foremost rugby venue with all amenities conforming to the international standards in the island. An attractive musical entertainment programme was also performed during the session. The dazzling musical performances of the renowned artists enthralled the guests during the entire evening.
The old racecourse, once a land mark site in Colombo had been neglected for a considerable period of time. First officially opened for race horsing in 1893 it was considered the best in terms of design, facilities, and size in the East. In 1922 it became the first racecourse in the East to be fixed with a Totalisator, a tremendous technological achievement of that era.
Later on, during World War II a temporary airfield was constructed at the Colombo Racecourse by the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy was also based at the Colombo racecourse. Thereafter Sri Lanka Air Force used the discarded racecourse grounds for landing transport helicopters and the Sri Lanka Army has used the racecourse buildings as a temporary garrison from time to time furthermore some of the buildings were used by University Of Colombo.
By the time, it had lost its past glory entertaining only state functions and ceremonies which held occasionaly. Gradually the place kept entirely neglected and it became an eyesore in the Colombo's changing skyline. This 27 acre prime land in Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo had been abandoned for nearly half a century.
Distinguished guests including Hon. Ministers and MP's, foreign diplomats, Government Officials, Chief of Defence Staff, the three-force Commanders, Inspector General of Police, officials of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Chairpersons of leading companies, renowned artists, media personnel, Senior military officers and a large number of people were present at the occasion.
Report and Pictures : Ministry of Defence and Urban Development