Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Venues will be OK - administrators

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 12:00 AMShayne Fairman
Sandbags are being used to control the flow of expected excess water from entering the National Aquatic Centre.
View from the McDonald Tunnel of the Bleachers section of the National Stadium ahead of the passage of Hurricane Matthew.

Local stakeholders have expressed confidence that the island's top sports facilities will stave off, and quickly recover from, the expected onslaught of torrential rains and extreme weather associated with Hurricane Matthew.

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited, operators of the National Stadium, the National Indoor Sports Centre, Leila Robinson Courts, basketball courts, National Aquatic Centre and the National Arena, said the facility is ready to ride out the storm.

Brown's organisation also oversees operations for the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, and said that venue will be safe as well.

"We have put through a plan, and one of the major things we did was to remove all objects that can fly around and we have covered the stuff. Unfortunately, at Trelawny, we have a lot of glass there, and we can't do much about that, so we just have to do what we can do," he said.

The Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium is hosting the West Indies women, and Brown has backed all government facilities to reopen soon after the storm.

"Both the Indoor [Centre] and the National Arena are built to withstand hurricanes. The Indoor Centre was built in 2004, The National Arena withstood Hurricane Gilbert, so I don't see why it wouldn't withstand anything else," he stressed.

Brown added that all venues will be ready in a week following the departure of persons using the National Arena as a hurricane shelter.

"The Arena is being used as a shelter, so we can't plan anything until all the persons move out. For the National Stadium, we expect that within a week, it will be ready to host all events," he noted.

Over on the western side of the island, Orville Powell, president of reigning Red Stripe Premier League champions Montego Bay United, said those venues won't be seriously affected because of "proper drainage".

"We have proper drainage here at Montego Bay United, (located at Wespow Park), Catherine Hall, and I can speak for Reno FC also," Powell said.

"I don't think we will have an issue with water, and Jarrett Park is the same thing. Rain will fall on to the pitches but they will be okay," he said, adding that MoBay United stopped training as early as Friday last week.

Powell said preparations for the hurricane have included taking down billboards.


Decisions after storm


Meanwhile, George Forbes, Inter-Secondary School Sports Association competition officer said, for the Manning and daCosta Cup competitions decisions will be made to resume action following the storm.

"It all depends on the damage that would be done to the fields. It's the whole island that will be affected, so we can't make a decision until we know where is affected," he reasoned.

"As soon as we get the go-ahead after Matthew, we will make a decision. We are not going to rush anything, we have to wait and see what happens," he added."

Forbes hinted that select venues could be used, if school playing fields are damaged.

"Yes we could do that but we prefer to wait until the passage of Matthew before we can make a decision," Forbes revealed.

One such venue could be the Sabina Park cricket ground in Kingston. Calls to Sabina Park and Jamaica Cricket Association Chief Executive Officer Courtney Francis' phone went unanswered yesterday.