Improved West Indies product will help Sabina - Heaven
Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) President Wilford 'Billy' Heaven said that Cricket West Indies (CWI) is not doing enough to market the product, which he believes has a negative effect on Sabina Park's attraction as a host venue.
Heaven believes that this is what has led to what he describes as poor Test match attendance at the venue in recent years.
Of the last seven Test series played by the West Indies senior men's team in the Caribbean since 2012, only four matches took place at Sabina Park.
However, CWI President Whycliffe 'Dave' Cameron recently said that other nations in the West Indies had embraced cricket more than Jamaica and that some persons do not see Kingston as a tourist destination, which hurts Sabina Park's chances of hosting Test matches frequently due to low attendance.
Heaven said that this cannot be true since the ground used to be filled for Test matches decades ago.
"My difficulty with that is that once upon a time, Sabina Park would be full," Heaven said.
"If it's not a tourism destination now, it certainly was not then. So, to me, it is more than that. I believe some of the issues impacting Sabina Park relate to the quality of the product offering and also, when you have a dollar to spend on sport, people may be going for other competitive sports that they may show a preference for over cricket. So the quality of the team and marketability of the product need improvement.
PROPER MARKETING NEEDED
"I believe when you look at the CPL (the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament), nobody could deny the attendance there during those games. I believe if we market the product properly and if we have a product that is competitive, both West Indies and territorial, then I don't believe the location is necessarily an issue in terms of bringing the crowd in to Sabina Park."
Heaven said he is aware that the park cannot survive on revenue received solely from cricket matches and added that the JCA and Kingston Cricket Club (who also operates and maintains the ground) have taken the decision to have more non-sporting activities hosted at the venue.
"I believe more and more that Sabina Park will become a multipurpose stadium as well, with the focus on cricket as the primary activity to be played at the park," Heaven added. "But we have to introduce other activities without damaging the possibility of playing cricket there because we have to protect the pitch and the outfield."
Heaven told The Gleaner that he wants to create a cricket museum at Sabina Park.
"It has to be more than cricket that we offer at a cricket venue," he said. "I still have it on the table to establish a cricket museum at Sabina Park. I've seen where people come to Sabina Park just to have a view of the venue and to see a historic place. Now, if we have memorabilia (branded goods) on sale there, and a museum, that in itself would be an attraction outside of cricket. So we have to diversify what we have at the park ... to sell more than cricket."