Game plan 2022
How many more?
Apparently four years if John King has his way.
The new Minister of Sports believes Barbados will finally have a brand new National Stadium by 2022 considering that Government has already received multiple outside offers to rebuild the condemned stands.
King made the pledge in a wide-ranging interview with Weekend Sport after taking up the post less than two weeks ago.
“Luckily for us there are a number of agencies and private individuals who have already offered to help us repair the Stadium. I have even had persons who have suggested a new site for the Stadium [so] I am very, very confident that within three to four years we can get that done,” said King.
“I won’t go too far into it because at this stage a lot of things are speculative at this point in time. But we’re having conversations with persons and I must say that everyone that I have spoken to so far, and I am talking about people who have contacted me, have been very positive about how we can get it done.
“It probably will not cost us an arm and a leg to do either and I’m not one who believes in trying to have ashort-term remedy for a problem that can be exacerbated later on down the road,” he added.
The comments come as much welcome news for a dilapidated 30-year-old facility, whose five stands were all closed three years ago after debris strucka couple patrons.
The Stadium was then further exposed as a safety hazard in 2016 after star distance runner Johnathan Jones posted a video on social media of a roof beam embedded in the ground behind the Don Norville Stand.
As such the stands were condemned for use, resulting in the relocation of several track and field meets to the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
But King’s predecessor Stephen Lashley promised to deliver an ultra-modern facility earlier in the year while revealing the then Government expected to receive a grant from the People’s Republic of China.
However, the commercial office of the Chinese office subsequently informed the previous ministry it couldn’t finance such a project until 2020 the earliest.
In light of that news, several pundits have suggested that Government simply knock down the stands in the short term.
“At this point in time, seeing that I have now come on to the job, I must be privy to the assessments that probably would have been done by the engineers and other persons like that before I can actually comment on any short-term plans because I don’t want to speak out of turn,” said King.
“Of course, once those assessments are done, I will be in a better position to say we’re in a position to do this or that. But I’m not one who believes in puttinga plaster on a cancer sore.
“I believe if you’re going to deal with it, let’s deal with it right out to the end with no patchwork. If we’re going to knock it down and build a new one, then let’s say we’ve got this in the bag, this is what is going to happen, and let’s move forward,” the minister added. (JM)