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» BREAKING NEWS, Featured » PLANS ARE ON THE WAY FOR THE REFURBISHING OF THE NATIONAL STADIUM!

PLANS ARE ON THE WAY FOR THE REFURBISHING OF THE NATIONAL STADIUM!

BY SHERDON COWAN—-

An aerial view of the National Stadium in its current state. —

The calls have been long and many for the refurbishing of the National Stadium in Kingston, and a major upgrade of the almost 55-year-old facility now seems set to finally come to pass.

However, despite the advancement of the planning phase, a US$45.04-million budget now stands in the way of what is expected to be a minimum five-year project – once all the funds have been acquired.

This aspect is likely to be covered by the Government in partnership with the private sector, as was explained by Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park, the operators of the National Stadium.

“We have a meeting set up with Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and then the Government will decide how they are going to fund it. I expect the meeting will go well because the interactions we have had with the Ministry of Finance seems to suggest that they will consider it favourably.

“So it is just a matter for the Government now to identify where the fund is going to come from and I am not in a position to say when it will happen,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer at a briefing to outline the plans at National Indoor Sports Centre yesterday.

Once the funds are in place, Brown pointed out that the project will be executed over four phases, to continue the accommodation of various events to be staged inside the popular venue at a particular time of the year.

No more than 10,000 seats of the near 30,000-capacity stadium are expected to be affected during each phase of the renovation.

 NationalStadium1

Phases one, two and three will see work being done on the East, North and South stands, generally known as the bleachers area. The final phase will be the Grandstand area, which includes 11 private suites, a royal box and a media area.

Brown noted that work on the National Stadium, which was built for the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1966, has been long overdue.

“This design…there are about 10 of them built in the world and this is probably the only one left standing, all the others have been knocked down and rebuilt,” he said before pointing to the significance of the upgrade.

“The first issue of the refurbishing is to address the shortcomings, which are quite a few, to bring the stadium to international standards. So that is the main reason why we need to refurbish because if we don’t do that then we will not meet the IAAF or the FIFA standards,” Brown explained.

Along with additional seating, the refurbishing includes significant improvements on medical doping facilities, access control, individual seating for spectators, additional restroom facilities, among other things more common with a modern stadium.

“I think that it is something that if we don’t do we could find ourselves behind; The Bahamas has a new stadium and they can host the World Relays, but we can’t host any of those events now. So the overall plan is at the end of all this refurbishing we should be able to attract Diamond League or World Championships plus World Relays events,” Brown underlined.

NationalStadiumBolt

The National Stadium has been famous for hosting a number of top-notch events that come with high demand for seating each year, chief among them the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships and the now fast-growing Racers Grand Prix.

In order to solve the seating issue, Brown pointed to the removal of the now obsolete 500m concrete velodrome which encircles the running track. This, he said, will open up the space to install an additional 10,000 seats if needed.

“That is what is going to allow us to increase the seating and it will also improve the spectator experience so that they are closer to the action. We are putting in design, space so that an event that requires more than that capacity, we can bring in temporary seats which are what most stadiums do nowadays.

“Because you want to design the seating so that it holds the amount, you can’t design it big and it is only filled twice a year. You have to design it that it is filled, but leave space so that if and when an event requires more seats, you can bring additional seats,” he ended.

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