Thursday, April 25, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE: Stadium could do with upgrade


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THE?STATE?of?the National Stadium came under public fire last week and I can’t disagree with what I heard.
All of the comments focused mainly on the general condition of the facility but most bemoaned the condition of the washrooms in particular.
We definitely have to work on this area forthwith because amenities such as these have to be up to scratch for the paying public to be comfortable when they have to use them.
When you leave home to patronise an event you should be accorded the highest standards for your money.
The thing is that this is a regular complaint, so it could come over that the authority’s tardiness in addressing it, means that public concern isn’t being taken seriously.
We don’t want to be deterred from going to the Stadium and enjoying ourselves. The washrooms should be upgraded considering that this period will continue be a very active one.
The Senior Games will be held later this month and more athletics meets will follow. Generally, the Stadium’s infrastructure has to be brought in line with other international venues.
By so doing, we can utilise it for major events and place it firmly in the realm of the sports tourism market. Too many negative reports will only assist in closing that window of opportunity.
Recently, the Jamaican footballers poured scorn on the state of the field. Years before, FIFA and the IAAF gave the thumbs down on the facility.
The field was relaid in 2009 so we are left to wonder why it was allowed to return to the state the Jamaicans complained about.
Continuous maintenance has to be a priority if it is to revert to some semblance of quality.
We can imagine that it will be very difficult to get it in prime condition at the moment considering the beating it takes with the football season in progress.
Plus, it makes no sense to play as many as three games on a day there has been heavy showers. The surface looks like a mud patch the next day.
Management will have to make some tough decisions in such circumstances because, inevitably, the buck will stop there even when staff try their best to accommodate the requests of the football and other associations.
I have seen superintendent Colin Spencer joining staff in trying to bring the field to a level of acceptance.
So the intentions are good but aren’t always appreciated by the public. That’s human nature.
There is always a higher expectation surrounding Government property.
It was only last year that the new track was laid and Crop Over revellers were among the first to christen it.
The authorities rebuffed media suggestions that high-heeled shoes could damage the track, yet they were telling athletes to ensure they put the right spikes in their running shoes!
There was also a long list of regulations handed down to prevent overuse of the track and possible damage by every Tom, Dick and Harry, but from what I can see it seems to be business as usual.
Who will be accountable when the track life expires well in advance of its normal time due to abuse?
The cyclists, I suppose, will have to make do with the concrete velodrome while the international standard is board.
When will we be able to turn back the clock to international cycling of the mid-’70s when the world’s best competed at the Stadium?
How can we expect home-based riders to excel in track events if they train on an adverse surface?
We have surely been left behind as we have not moved with the times and some of our neighbours, who once viewed us as trailblazers, now see us as laughing stock in respect of having their own world-class facility.
Let’s be realistic. We are in no financial position to build a new Stadium now but, as a minimum, we need to get the basics right at Waterford.
We must be clear that Stadium staff don’t implement policy, they simply follow instructions from on high and merely work with what they have.
They are hard workers, too.
I also believe that the National Sports Council can enter an agreement with one of the telecommunication providers to have free WiFi as a bonus for us attending events there. We are, after all, in the 21st century.
Andi Thornhill is an experienced and award-winning sports journalist. Email


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