Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Consultations under way on redevelopment of National Stadium

Published:Wednesday | September 4, 2019 | 12:07 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
A view of the National Stadium.
A view of the National Stadium.

A report from Apec Consultants, the company contracted by the Jamaican Government to research the redevelopment of the National Stadium and give an estimate of the cost for the project, is due in early October, this according to Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL).

IPL currently controls operations at the venue, which was constructed in 1962 to host the Central American and Caribbean Games. Plans to refurbish the National Stadium have been in the pipeline for a number of years, but last year sports minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, signed a contract worth $30 million with Apec, to ensure the project is properly explored before construction begins, and Brown told The Gleaner that the consultants are currently meeting with operators of the complex and stakeholders and will make a final presentation before submitting their report for the project in a month’s time.

“The Government has given a contract to a local consulting company to finalise what is required and to put up a cost. That consultant’s report is supposed to be ­submitted early October.

“The contract involves meeting with the current operators of the stadium, meeting with stakeholders and then have some presentations with the stakeholders,” Brown said.

“A steering committee made up of the various users of the facility will be put in place to oversee the construction, but before the report is finalised, the consultants are to do a general workshop, where they invite more people to see what they are presenting.

After that is done, they will conclude what is to be done and the budget it will take to finance the entire project. After that it will be up to the Ministry of Finance to decide on where they go from there,” said Brown.

“The consultants are working on a more detailed budget. They will look at all we have submitted, talk to the users and come up with a final plan.

So their job is to says (to government) this is what you need to do and this is the cost. When the Government gets that, they will decide what they are going to do,” Brown added.

Meanwhile, Brown noted that the government will have the final say in whether they make the project a two years or five-year plan. If it’s a two-year plan, then the facility will be closed during that period and other venues will be identified as alternatives, especially for track and field and football.

However, if they decide to go with the five-year option, the renovation exercise will be carried out in stages, section by section, so that even major events such as the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships will not be affected.

“We have recommended a five-year project so that the stadium can still be used while the renovation is going on, so they don’t have to shut it down.

We will be able to host most of the events that we are hosting now. The construction could be done in two years (but) that would mean closing the stadium to do that construction, so we are recommending a five years programme, so we can still use the stadium while it is being done. But that depends on what the government decides,” said Brown.

“It (would) take much longer but at least you will still have the facility to use. You’ll have reduced seating capacity during the construction, so that is the trade off, but the recommendation is don’t close the stadium, do it in stages,” he added.

Consultations are also ongoing for plans around the Trelawny Stadium.

The National Stadium redevelopment plans include the removal of the velodrome and addition of 10,000 seats, state-of-the-art anti-doping facilities, covering for most of the facility, updated Royal Box and upgraded media facilities.