Sumfest venue has great potential – MoBay mayor
Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis believes that the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex, which is home to the annual Reggae Sumfest music festival, could become a prime entertainment venue for the western city if the proposed plan to sell the property becomes a reality.
In giving an update on the plans by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which owns the property, to find an investor to transform the venue into a permanent show site, the mayor said the St James Municipal Corporation supports the plan, which was announced by the UDC last April.
“I know there are plans to do some leasing of the property to persons with interest in it, but as far as we’re concerned at the municipal corporation, we still see Catherine Hall as a premiere location for Reggae Sumfest and other music festivals. You could even make it into a place where families can go and enjoy themselves outside of Sumfest, with other activities taking place there,” said Davis.
“If it’s to be leased to an entity, to continue in that same tradition but to also include other forms of cultural musical activities, then we would give our support, from the corporation’s position, to have it as an all-year-round entertainment centre,” the mayor added.
Davis noted that the venue has periodically been used by other organisations to host non-music events.
“We also have Seafood Festival and Jerk Fest there, and the 4-H Clubs normally has some activities there. But if it’s going to be used for music festivals, it would be good for it to be an entertainment complex where on one night, you can have two or three different events happening there,” said Davis.
Reggae Sumfest, which was started in 1993 by a group on Montego Bay investors, is now a calendar event in that city and is considered an important contribution to the resort city’s economy.
In July this year, the St James Municipal Corporation and the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry rejected the view that Reggae Sumfest had outgrown the venue and that its promoters might be forced to seek another venue, possibly outside of St James.
The two groups expressed the view that based on the land space around the venue, it could be expanded and made much larger.
Reggae Sumfest CEO Josef Bogdanovich told The Gleaner last month that securing the rights to undertake much-needed expansion of the actual space inside the Catherine Hall venue was a challenge. “Because I don’t control the venue, I can’t get a tractor and mow down some parts of it. But I know how I can get another 17 per cent capacity inside there, if allowed,” he said.
Among the plans is the erection of an additional stage.