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Plan in works to rebuild National Stadium

Barry Alleyne

Plan in works to rebuild National Stadium

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Battered by Mother Nature and weakened by age, the stands at the National Stadium will soon undergo rehabilitation.

Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, Stephen Lashley, has revealed that even though Government continues to spend on repairs for the 44-year-old facility, the long-term plans remain for a brand new facility to eventually replace what now stands at Waterford, St Michael.

That “new” stadium will involve the complete destruction and removal of the five stands that now exist on the western side of the venue, to be replaced with state-of-the-art seating arrangements on the eastern side.

“We are still looking at international funding to have it done. The submission of plans to Cabinet are also at the advanced stage. It is something we know we have to do, but it will take a lot,” the minister told the SUNDAY SUN.

But in the meantime, fans will have to stay out until a massive redevelopment is completed over the next few months.

The minister said Government had continued to do “patch work” at the facility over the years, but wear and tear continued to take its toll, forcing them to make a tough decision.

Lashley said that after flakes of concrete were noticed, a report from engineers was commissioned earlier this year, which revealed the progressive wear and tear.

“The suggestion was that we needed to reduce the fan capacity at the National Stadium by 60 per cent, which is why after meeting with all the stakeholders we decided to establish the 600 persons per-stand policy in the first place,” the minister noted.

That policy came into place two weeks ago for the National Primary Schools Athletics Championships (NAPSAC) and Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (BSSAC) events, along with a FIFA World Cup football qualifier between Barbados and the United States Virgin Islands.

A report of a fan being slightly injured by falling pieces of concrete during the BSSAC finals did surface, but public relations officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Acting Superintendent David Welch, said no such report had been made to a police station.

“I am profoundly concerned about the safety of Barbadians. Several reports have indicated remedial action had to be taken, but upon considering all things, I think it is better that no persons be allowed in the stands at all, until everything is finished and everyone is safe,” Lashley told the SUNDAY SUN yesterday.

“What we have to bear in mind is that the National Stadium is an ageing facility, and continues to need work. We have done a number of sets of work before, including repairing the track, but now this set of work needs to be comprehensive.”

The minister said it was impossible to say when redevelopment of the facility would start, but it would have to be done in phases over the next few years.

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