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A THORNY ISSUE: Stadium no quick fix


ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Stadium no quick fix

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IT US GOING to be taxing for those organising sports and other events at the National Stadium until the repairs on the stands are completed.

Seating arrangements will be different and other adjustments will have to be made that we didn’t consider previously to make all stakeholders comfortable.

It’s the stark reality as we have to understand, accept and be compliant in fitting in with the lengthy process it will take before life returns to normal at the Waterford facility.

Let’s just remember that the first step in the proposed remedial work on the stands is the tendering process and then there has to be rationalisation about costs and where it will be placed in the national budget, considering that what’s in the public purse has to be split among several other causes some may see as equally as important as sports.

In that context, I don’t think getting the remedial work started is straightforward because the money has to be sourced from somewhere before the repairs can begin.

Once we accept that there are logistical hurdles to be cleared up front, we should be mentally prepared to fall in line of what we need to do as patrons and organisers in the interim.

Obviously, the scale of the event will determine the level of the resources that will be necessary to reach proper and acceptable standards to the expectations of those patronising it.

In some instances, organisers will have to opt for another location. A prime example is the Barbados Football Association which has shifted its Premier League to its AstroTurf site at Wildey.

In other cases,you will have to possess the financial capability to cover the expenses associated with the temporary framework you have to set up to accommodate patrons if you intend to use the stadium. The Ministry of Social Care was able to do this in hosting the National Senior Games recently.

Unfortunately,the organisers of the annual alumni sports said they are putting off this year’s games indefinitely because they don’t have the money it will take to make the required adjustments.

They stated they will play it by ear in respect of the repairs to the stands before making a final decision on the competition.This is a logical and legitimate position anbody should be able to respect.

I think it should be pointed out that there has been a virtual 360 turnaround in the way things are now done at the Stadium since the Ministry of Sports decided to close access to the stands in the interest of public safety.

Those attending events now have to enter from the eastern side, making their entrance through what is commonly called the Scotia Gate; there’s no access to the facility’s changing rooms or restrooms but temporary toilets are in place; regular vending has also been affected and general seating has been compromised.

So, we all need to have a plan when going there until further notice.

In this regard, I thought the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) should have had at least a couple of tents on the eastern side to accommodate the athletes at last Saturday’s April Classic.

Unless I missed something, the only tent I saw was the one for officials while most of the athletes had to be satisfied with being accommodated under the velodrome close to the warmup track.

I felt this was extremely disrespectful to the athletes who make the event. Without them nothing can happen and every effort must be explored and made to make them as comfortable as possible if they are scheduled to compete.

We cannot continue to be that insensitive to our sportsmen and expect them to accept it as though that kind of treatment is the norm.

We must set a standard and try to maintain it no matter the size of the meet.

A couple more are coming up before the track season ends, including Nationals, so I hope that things will be in place to avoid any major fallout between all the stakeholders who intend to be there.

In closing, I’m left here wondering if the remedial work on the stands will be completed in time to stage next year’s premier events like the primary and secondary schools athletics championships.

As of now, administrators should begin looking at a Plan A, B and C.

Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist. Email: [email protected]

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