Thursday, April 25, 2024

Stadium setback


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So much for that new stadium!

China won’t be able to help with the building of an ultra-modern National Stadium after all, at least not until 2020, as the Chinese embassy revealed it can’t undertake such a project in this financial year.

Weekend Sport confirmed the news just four months after Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley said Government received “positive word” that a grant would be provided towards the redevelopment of the Stadium.


No funding


However, in a letter dated March 2, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth informed the National Sports Council’s interim chief executive officer Jerry Blenman of the embassy’s current inability to fund the Stadium’s rebuilding.

“The Cabinet of Barbados at its meeting of November 16, 2017 approved the submission of the captioned project for the consideration of the People’s Republic of China with respect to the provision of funding,” wrote the ministry in the correspondence.

“On communicating the decision to the commercial office of the embassy of the People’s Republic of China, the Barbados side was advised that the project could not be facilitated during the current financial year but could be considered for the next financial year which commences in October 2018.

“In the interim, the commercial office of the embassy of the People’s Republic of China has further advised that it would be amenable to initiating discussions on the proposed project. Additionally, the Chinese side has advised that the process between the approval of a project for funding and the commencement of construction can take up to two years,” the ministry added.

It’s just the latest setback surrounding the decaying Waterford facility, whose stands were closed three years ago after falling debris struck a couple patrons.

The Stadium was then exposed as a further safety hazard in 2016 as star middle distance runner Johnathan Jones posted a video on social media of a roof beam embedded in the ground behind the Don Norville Stand.




As a result, the stands were condemned for use and the Stadium’s staff was eventually relocated to the neighbouring Netball Stadium over safety concerns.

Several track and field events have since moved to the Usain Bolt Sports Complex while more prominent meets such as the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships (BSSAC) have suffered from a lack of crowds due to the condemning of the stands.

But Lashley promised to deliver an ultra-modern facility while addressing the renaming of the Mapp Hill Pavilion in December after revealing that Government expected to receive a grant from China.

And the news looked hopeful, considering the Chinese government had just completed a $19 million-dollar refurbishment of the Wildey Gymnasium last year.

However, the ministry was forced to convene a meeting of local stakeholders last month to discuss any steps that could be “pursued prior to the start of the Chinese financial year with a view of reducing the period between the approval of funding by China and the commencement of construction”.

According to inside sources, the meeting was also used to discuss the country’s position ahead of a preliminary meeting with the embassy’s commercial office.

Calls to both Lashley and Blenman were not returned up to press time. (JM)


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