Big three want more Champs tickets
WHILE there may be a shortage of grandstand tickets for Saturday for the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association-GraceKennedy Boys & Girls' Athletics Championships, ISSA President Dr Walton Small has reiterated that there are more than enough for every other day of the event held inside the National Stadium.
"ISSA has no issue with tickets, except for Saturday. We have ample tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We have ample tickets for the bleachers, and we encourage people to use the bleachers," Small told The Gleaner following Friday evening's RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
Small was responding to queries based on the complaints by a trio of old boys' associations from Calabar High School, Jamaica College and Kingston College, known by the moniker 'Three the Hard Way'.
David Miller, president of the Calabar Old Boys' Association; Dr Patrick Dallas, president of the Kingston College Old Boys' Association; and Collin Greenland, treasurer of the Jamaica College Old Boys' Association, said they had concerns about the distribution of tickets for Champs last year.
"There appears to be no structural way of dealing with tickets. Why should we, who spend $20 million per year preparing for Champs, be given the same number of tickets ... . Why should (a school) who have no investment have the same talk," said Miller.
"We are not saying that we should get all of it. What we are saying is that what happened last year, something was not transparent about the allocation of tickets," Dr Dallas added.
The group said their organisation wanted more Champs tickets, but an email sent to Dr Small, requesting a meeting, had been met with a brusque reply that their concerns be directed to ISSA via the principals of their respective schools.
"We feel disrespected because we didn't get an audience. We don't believe that we should go through our principals. We are an alumni association ... not a sixth-form association," said Dr Dallas.
Dr Small said there was no intent to be disrespectful.
"It's unfortunate that they view it that way. We (ISSA) cater to a variety of organisations and if every organisation demands that they want to meet with us, you can see what would happen. The structure at ISSA - once it's coming from schools - we refer everything through the principals. It does not matter what it is," he said.
The Old Boys' group pointed out that collectively, they invest as much as $45 million towards the development of their respective schools' athletes.
"Our three schools together are a huge part of the following for Champs. It is no coincidence that KC, Calabar and JC, between them, have won over 90 per cent of the Champs," Dr Dallas added.
Greenland noted that their schools helped to make Champs what it is.
"The day would never come when we would withdraw from Champs because we cherish the thing, but there really wouldn't be a Champs without one of these schools," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Small said subsequent to the group's meeting with The Gleaner, he had got approval from his board to meet with them.
He also added that the window for Champs tickets is opened at the end of football season. Requests are taken via email.
He said the demand was overwhelming, and pointed out that the grandstand seats only 5,000 persons.
"After we give our sponsors and special guests, all we have are 2,000 tickets to sell. Unless they expand the stadium, we will not be able (to accommodate more) and, therefore, we encourage people to come and use the bleachers. That is where I stay. Come and share time with the president in the bleachers," Dr Small said.