Mon | Mar 1, 2021

Staying afloat ... for now - ASAJ keeps main facility open despite major revenue shortfall

Published:Thursday | February 11, 2021 | 5:55 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Members of the Jamaican water polo team take part in a practice session at the National Aquatic Centre, which is located in the Independence Park Complex.
Members of the Jamaican water polo team take part in a practice session at the National Aquatic Centre, which is located in the Independence Park Complex.
Lyn
Lyn
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Despite a monthly bill of almost $500,000, President of the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) Martin Lyn said his administration is rethinking plans to close the country’s main aquatics facility in spite of the financial constraints...

Despite a monthly bill of almost $500,000, President of the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) Martin Lyn said his administration is rethinking plans to close the country’s main aquatics facility in spite of the financial constraints brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ASAJ is usually forced to splash out in excess of $700,000 per month to maintain the National Aquatic Centre - the island’s premium swimming and sole diving venue. However, that figure has seen a 57 per cent reduction to approximately $400,000 per month.

With limited activity at the pool, no swim meets, and a total absence of gate receipts, revenue from the facility has also taken a nose dive for the association, with Lyn estimating a 60 per cent fallout in earnings.

VERY POSITIVE DISCUSSIONS

Nevertheless, the veteran administrator disclosed that after what he described as “very positive” recent discussions with the Government regarding the resumption of sports locally, the ASAJ will keep the facility open, for now, with the hope that they will be able to stay afloat over the next couple of months.

He also noted that the decision by complex managers Independence Park Limited (IPL) to pay $400,000 for the repair of damaged pumps will go a long way in helping the ASAJ to keep the venue open.

“We are not closing the pool. That is not the contemplation. If you don’t have competitive swimming, it makes things so much more difficult, but we have appealed to IPL about the pumps, and they have agreed to fund the repairs, so in the meantime, we can keep our head above water,” Lyn told The Gleaner.

It has, however, not been an easy task.

“We don’t have people coming to the pool as usual, so we are strapped for cash,” he said. “Gate receipts have fallen off tremendously as we would make money from gate entries and entries for clubs.”

“The learn-to-swim programmes have not started back, and we don’t have all the concessions that would make a little money for us,” he pointed out.

The ASAJ still generates some income from the pool from activities such as physical therapy, but their biggest revenue stream currently comes from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), which uses the pool for training purposes. Lyn, however, emphasised that it was imperative that the green light be given for the resumption of competitive swimming at the facility.

“The JDF uses it extensively, and that is one of the main sources of income now. That is what has kept us afloat,” Lyn shared. “But we will be in a better position to stay open with the revitalisation of at least race sessions so the ASAJ can benefit from the entry fees.”

“Probably (we can go like this) for another two to three months, but it is just dire times, and we are hoping the powers-that-be understand that we need the National Aquatic Centre open because it serves a lot purposes,” Lyn added.

Meanwhile, based on communications with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Sport, Lyn believes that they are not far from a restart.

“It (meeting) was positive. The fact that meetings have been set up and we have been summoned, we believe we will get the go-ahead in short order and sooner rather than later,” Lyn said.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com