Stadium Lebak Bulus
The End of an Illustrious Stadium
by Ken Jenie
“…So please, be tolerant of those who describe a sporting moment as their best ever. We do not lack imagination, nor have we had sad and barren lives; it is just that real life is paler, duller, and contains less potential for unexpected delirium.” – Nick Hornby on Fever Pitch
Nick Hornby’s statement on “Fever Pitch” might sound melodramatic, but the fact is that sporting moments really are thrilling experiences. They are moments where people can share their passion with total strangers, and together express their enthusiasm in a stadium/arena. And for some people, especially Jakartans, the place where they shared that magic was Lebak Bulus stadium.
Being the home base for Pelita Jaya in its early years, Lebak Bulus Stadium started to gain attention when the Jakarta’s own team, Persija took the center over as their headquarters. On the match day the seats of the stadium simply turned orange, the seats filled with the vibrant color of Jakmania attributes.
Lebak Bulus’ field was where some of the notable football moments took place. The stadium has 12,000 seats and holds 15,000-25,000 people. It held the AFC U-17 Championship 2008 Qualification Group F Matches and Football Men’s Tournament at the 2011 SEA Games Group B Matches, not to mention the Bang Yos cup from the year of 2003-2008 (where the hometown team, Persija came out as the winner in 2003). Also, some national team member shaped their career in Lebak Bulus. Names like Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, Bambang Pamungkas, Hendro Kartiko, Ponaryo Astaman, Ellie Aiboy, Budhi Sudharsono, Gendut Doni, Firman Utina, and Ismed Sofyan became not only Persija’s legend, but also legendary Indonesian football icons. Especially for Ismed Sofyan, who’s spent most of his career at the Lebak Bulus Stadium, where he also scored a 40m screamer against Persik Kediri in this very field (The goal itself ends up became one of ESPN Asia best goal).
2008, the committee of Indonesian Football League decided Lebak Bulus could no longer hold Persija games because of its relatively limited capacity. Since then, Persija moved their home base to Gelora Bung Karno, leaving Lebak Bulus to hold smaller sporting events.
It’s been years since the last match of Persija took place in the stadium, but no matter what, the spirit is still there. Despite most of its chambers turned into offices and in some of its public area covered in moss, one can still see the bits of history of the sporting center. The blue fence on the stand is difficult to forget for people who follow the Indonesian Football league – The blue fence somehow became an unofficial signature on the game itself.
The regional government of Jakarta has decided to move the stadium due to the Mass Rapid Transportation project. The stadium is located in the middle of the MRT project track, and has to be removed. The project has been on going since ex-governor Fauzi Bowo’s era, but only since governor Jokowi and Basuki took office has it now been continued. The government already bought 4.5 hectare in Pesanggrahan, Bintaro area to build a replacement stadium. This time, the eviction is for real. All of those stories and moment soon will be demolished as the concrete falls.
Just like every other goodbye, farewell will always be difficult. Some conflict arises between the ministry of sport and the local government due to the eviction process – Typical bureaucracy and miscommunication between departments. Leaving the stadium in an uncertain state.
But for some people, there is an indeed a problem that has to be solved before the eviction takes place. “Actually, we’re completely fine with the MRT project, since it’s for a better purpose. But if the eviction really is happening, we need to be sure that the Menteng incident is not gonna happen again, ” said Larico Ranggamone, head of Jakmania, recalling the eviction of Menteng Stadium. The promised stadium replacement still does not exist, the history of the city’s sporting area vanished for nothing.
“It’s not only about Persija, Lebak Bulus itself is a public place, people visit the stadium to exercise and do a lot of stuffs, Senayan is overcrowded and on some area is really expensive to rent, and Lebak Bulus is an affordable alternative to that – this time we want to be sure that we going to have the replacement”
“Of course, we’ll really miss how the stands filled up with orange, where we could intimidate the opposing team with our tremendous presence. Lebak Bulus is like our home, it is the spirit of Persija, and nothing will ever change that. We claimed our 2001 victory at the stadium, and that will always be our history. No matter what.”
After all, even Nick Hornby has to say goodbye to Highbury, the place where his career defining book based is closed and replaced to be a plaza. Maybe the time for Lebak Bulus also is coming in the near future. Until then, while the stadium still standing there, maybe it is the right time to once again listen to one of Persija’s favorite: C’mon Lennon’ – “Aku Cinta J.A.K.A.R.T.A.”
“Berdesak-desakkan, penonton Jakarta
‘tuk beri dukungan, Jakarta
Penuhi stadion, ibukota
A, ku, Cinta, J.A.K.A.R.T.A
A, Ku, Cinta, J.A.K.A.R.T.A”