$300m lighting upgrade ... Brighter nights ahead for National Stadium
General Manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL), Major Desmon Brown, admitted that the lighting system at the National Stadium does not meet international standards, and confirmed that plans for a US$2.5 million ($311 million) upgrading are at an advanced stage.
Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange had announced a US$40 million ($5 billion) refurbishing exercise for the National Stadium and the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium, and Brown noted that the need for improved lighting at the 56-year-old Kingston venue, which is also expected to see an expansion as well as the modernisation of media, spectator and medical facilities.
"It (lighting system) is at the level for TV, but not high definition TV and so that is what it is now," said Brown, while noting the ineffectiveness of the current system, which was installed in 1997.
"We are looking to put in far more efficient lights, because when those lights were put in, high definition TV wasn't the norm and so now that high definition is the norm, anything that you put in must be high definition and so it (new system) is going to be much better than what is there now," Brown added.
However, Brown was quick to note that he was not in a position at present, to give a timeline as to when the new lighting system would be installed.
"We are in the process, but we are somewhere down the wicket," said Brown, who also stated that they are awaiting approval of the funds needed to start the overall upgrades to the National Stadium.
ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED
He also used the opportunity to underline the range of issues, which needed to be addressed at the facility.
"There are certain requirements that we don't presently meet and not only lighting and that is why I am pushing to have the refurbishing done," said Brown.
"There are medical requirements, anti-doping requirements and things like seats, because we have bench seats in an international stadium. We require more concession stalls and so all of those things are part of the requirements," Brown said.
The National Stadium was built in 1962 for the Central America and Caribbean Games. The facility has hosted several major international events such as the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, the 'Sunshine Showdown' world heavyweight boxing title fight between Joe Frazier and George Foreman in 1973, as well as the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships.