Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Closer to construction - Grange says National Stadium set for renovation in 2021

Published:Friday | January 24, 2020 | 12:42 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer -
The National Stadium at Independence Park in Kingston.
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Sports Minister Olivia Grange says the redevelopment of the National Stadium at Independence Park is expected to begin construction by 2021.

She made the announcement yesterday at the launch of the this summer’s Racers/Adidas Grand Prix at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. Grange said that a proposal has been completed by consultants hired by the Public Investment Management Secretariat (PIMSEC) and has been presented to the body for approval.

“I asked the consultants when we are we going to roll this out and based on the schedule, hopefully we will be starting construction early next year and this is a major achievement,” she said. “We are closer to the development of the National Stadium Complex. Much closer.”

Among the recommendations sent to PIMSEC for the project are the covering of the bleachers section, increasing the capacity by installing over 10,000 new seats, the installation of a new velodrome, a sports museum, and an anti-doping facility. Grange says that once construction begins, it is estimated that the project will be completed in three years but the timeline will be made official by the end of the year.

“Originally, we had seen this project over a three-year period, but let’s see at the end of year once we have fine tuned everything if there are some things we can move and fast track,” she said. It will take another year for us to fine tune and determine the phases, determine how we are going to manage events that would normally be held in the stadium, and how we will phase the development. So that is where we are now in determining the way forward.

Grange believes that the completion of the project will give the country the best chance in achieving Diamond League status and eventually hosting a World Championship event. The fifth staging of the Racers/Adidas Grand Prix on June 13, has been granted gold status for 10 years on the newly created World Athletics Continental Tour. The new designation makes it the second biggest meet in the western hemisphere, behind the Prefontaine Classic in the USA, a Diamond League event.

“It is very important because getting Diamond League status would again create other opportunities and open up the world to us,” Grange said. “We are doing well as it is, but that would take us now to another level.

“We definitely want to host international events. With Racers doing what they are doing, the Government doing what it has to do in putting the infrastructure in and bringing private sector on board, it means that we are moving in the right direction and we are pulling the team together to realise that the sky is the limit once we pull all of this together.”

Racers Track Club president Glen Mills concurs with the minister.

“People love to come to Jamaica,” he said. “We have Commonwealth Games and World Juniors. Once we get that, we have enough hotels in the city and training areas are there,’ he said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com

National Stadium fact file:

 

Official name: Independence Park

Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Opened: 1962

Capacity: 35,000

Major events: Central American and Caribbean Games – 1962

Eighth British Empire and Commonwealth Games – 1966

IAAF World Junior Championships – 2002

Concacaf Gold Cup – 2019