Fri | Sep 22, 2017

New stadium could cost $46b

Published:Sunday | January 8, 2017 | 1:00 AMRachid Parchment
Major Brown

Independence Park Limited (IPL), the operator of the National Stadium, says that renovating the complex is more feasible than building a new one.

IPL recently told The Sunday Gleaner that it is making plans to upgrade the facilities at the stadium on a phased basis but that it is waiting on funds from the Government to get started.

It says that this upgrade is to meet what it describes as "international standards".

General manager Major Desmon Brown says that a new stadium with modern features would cost approximately US$350 million, the equivalent of just under J$46 billion at the current exchange rate.

"As a country, it would be difficult to find those kinds of resources," Brown says.

He said that one of the challenges to ever raising that figure is that IPL does not collect profit from tickets sold for events hosted at the complex. Instead, it earns its profits from renting to various sporting bodies for the hosting of their events.

"Remember, Independence Park does not have events," he says. "What we do is rent the stadium and people have events. So that money goes back to them, not us."

One such association that rents the facilities is the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), for the national football team's home matches. In recent times, the JFF has used the stadium less frequently. The last home matches hosted at the venue were FIFA World Cup and Caribbean Football Union qualifiers late last year, but there have been no international friendlies there in almost five years.

The JFF says that renting the national Stadium costs between just over $1 million and under $1.5 million, depending on the type of game being hosted. For this reason, it is not profitable to host friendlies at the stadium. This is one of the reasons IPL has struggled to come up with necessary funding.

GOV'T AIDED

"Currently, I get 30 per cent from the Government to run the facility. That's the operating cost. All the capital costs would come from the Government. Fixing the pool and all of those things have to come from the Government. A stadium only becomes profitable when you have your own team. For instance, the Indianapolis Colts (American National Football League team) have their own stadium. They have 50 matches every year. They know that 25 of those are home matches. You sell most of the tickets before and have a fixed income. You have advertisers who are in the stadium full time.

"When you go to our stadium, it's always empty because everybody comes there with their own different advertisers. The only time a stadium becomes profitable is when you have your own team and you have a certain number of matches and you can plan around that," Brown says.