Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:The highly anticipated start to the 2012 Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) schoolboy football season has hit an unexpected late snag, as reports have surfaced that the asking price for the use of the Catherine Hall Sports Complex is out of ISSA's reach.
The opening matches have been switched to Jarrett Park after the operators of the Catherine Hall venue requested nearly $500,000 more than last year's $700,000 to host the opening ceremony and the first two matches of the schoolboy season. Competitions director at ISSA, George Forbes, revealed that his organisation is in no position to pay out that amount of money.
"We want to play the matches at Catherine Hall but we cannot pay what they are asking," Forbes said.
Last year, ISSA paid out approximately $700,000 for the use of the complex, which facilitated the playing of the opening matches and the daCosta Cup final between Rusea's High School and St Elizabeth Technical.
"It cost us $700,000 last year for Catherine Hall, so to move from that figure to over a million dollars, we simply cannot afford it. It's not in our budget," noted Forbes.
He said talks between ISSA and the St James Parish Council - managers of the complex - had broken down.
"The discussions .... failed to come to an amicable resolution ... so we will be playing the opening matches at Jarrett Park," Forbes added. "Jarrett Park should be OK. We are still trying to see if we can play the final there, however. ... That, of course, depends on further dialogue."
The Western Bureau was unable to obtain a comment from the St James Parish Council on the issue.
Jarrett Park was ISSA's designated venue for schoolboy football in the west, prior to the construction and opening of the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in 2010. The latter facility was upgraded by Venezuelan contractors Presport Joint Ventures on behalf of the Urban Development Corporation.
The opening match of the double-header will see Manning Cup champions St George's College facing Hydel High at 2 p.m. and daCosta Cup champions Rusea's High tackling Herbert Morrison Technical at 4:15. The opening ceremony and dress parade will take place after the opening game.