ON THE BALL: Sport can’t pay bills
I mean, what can you do about it?
Yeah it’s unfortunate Barbados had to cancel that four-team netball Test series but sports just don’t take care of the bills around here.
And the Wildey Gymnasium has a lot of those to pay.
Whether we want to accept it or not, sports will have to take a back seat to events like Caribbean Christmas at our major facilities because they don’t attract the type of revenue necessary to sustain these multimillion-dollar venues in the absence of professional leagues.
I mean, you don’t spend $18.4 million to redevelop a place just so a federation could use it for free or at a subsidised cost.
This is part of the reason why I constantly push our governments to enact a National Sports Policy, because we could eventually create a sporting culture that gives birth to money-making set-ups within some of our sporting disciplines.
But until that day comes the lights at the Gym and Kensington Oval still have to be turned on, and the only way that happens is if those facilities host non-sporting activities on a monthly basis.
Don’t get me wrong: I too would’ve loved to see the Bajan Gems face off against Scotland, Samoa and Grenada on that lovely hardwood floor inside the Wildey Gymnasium.
I’m not saying that from a spectator standpoint either, because I know Barbados could really use the valuable court time and warm-up matches going into a World Cup year.
And it’s not like we have another suitable indoor venue considering the Barbados Community College isn’t outfitted with a hardwood surface.
Let’s not even get started on the orange matchbox down on Fontabelle.
But to stage netball for four days in a peak season like this is tantamount to sabotage as shows like the same Caribbean Christmas are sure to bring in big bucks.
The thing is this wasn’t a situation where the Gym’s management pushed aside the Test series in favour of that event because the Barbados Cancer Society merely booked the venue before the Barbados Netball Association got the chance to.
Yet, could anyone really blame the Gymnasium Limited if that were actually the case?
I know I wouldn’t, which is why I have legit concerns over the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) taking over the management of Kensington Oval.
Now I’m not saying the BCA can’t get it done, but if a government-run entity like Kensington Oval Management Inc (KOMI) struggles to make the Oval self-sustaining then how will an organisation that doesn’t generate revenue fare any better?
After all, this is a facility with a yearly $1 million utility bill and more staff than the Gymnasium.
It’s not like you can just leave it there to run itself.
Nope, unfortunately you have to host Hennessy Artistry, Rugby 7s and other non-cricketing events at the expense of certain matches simply to offset the cost of maintenance.
The problem with that is there are already two BCA board members who’ve gone on record stating their displeasure with Kensington being used as a multipurpose venue.
And there are even more who are upset that Barbados’ four-day matches have to be moved to the 3Ws Oval to facilitate Hennessy Artistry and Rugby 7s.
Yeah, I know I was the one who cried down the last government for not using the same Kensington to stage the Women’s World T20 just a week ago.
But that’s an international tournament which was bringing in millions of dollars of much-needed foreign exchange and possible repeat visitors from England and Australia.
I hardly think you can equate that to regional cricket and its 200 local fans who won’t nearly match the Oval’s light and wages bill at the end of December.
That’s what happens when you pump $150 million into redeveloping a facility without thinking about its sustainability in a country minus professional sports.
Heck, even big sports markets like New York City need their multimillion-dollar stadia such as Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center and MetLife Stadium to stage several non-sporting events just to stay viable.
What can you do about it?
I guess we have to accept it for what it is, or just create a culture where sports can take care of the bills around here. (JM)