Fri | Sep 22, 2017

$5 billion need for Stadium facelift

Published:Saturday | January 7, 2017 | 1:00 AMRachid Parchment
An aerial view of the National Stadium on the final day of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships in March 2015.

General Manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL) Major Desmond Brown says the body is still awaiting the funds needed to start major upgrades to the National Stadium in Kingston this year.

Brown says IPL needs US$40 million, which at today's rate converts to over $5 billion Jamaican dollars for the changes, but is still waiting for an official grant from the Government. These changes will be conducted over a four-year period, with one stage of renovation taking place each year.

"This is so we can still use the stadium while construction is going on," Major Brown says. "We're going to be doing it piece by piece because we want to do it with minimal interruption of events (at the venue)."

Brown says the changes to take place will be with the intention of bringing the stadium up to international standards.

"We'll be providing separate access for athletes and officials," he says. "Also, everybody should have individual seats; improved medical facilities; improved drug testing facilities; and improved media facilities. One other thing is that we're going to be putting in some private boxes. Those are the main issues."

SIGNIFICANT CHANGE

These individual seats would mean a significant change to the set up of the bleacher section of the stands.

"Everybody should have a ticketed seat with a number on it," Brown added. This presents a move away from the danger of overselling tickets for events at the stadium, which presents the possibility of stampedes. It will also mean vulgar and criminal activities can now be better policed, since patrons can now easily be identified by their seats in a grid."

Brown told The Gleaner, however, that individual seating would not mean a decrease in the stadium's capacity. In fact, he says 8,000 seats will be added, increasing the stadium's seating total to 36,500.

He added that the velodrome, which hosted cycle races at the stadium will be removed to allow the extra seating.

"I know the Government is working with the (Jamaica Cycling Federation) to identify a location to put up a modern velodrome, which is about 260 meters, with much steeper banks," he says.

Brown says there is no issue removing the cycle track as it has now become what he describes as "obsolete".