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More money for Trelawny Stadium

Published:Tuesday | April 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Major Desmon Brown - file

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

THE TRELAWNY Multi-purpose Stadium appears set to receive a $49.1 million grant from the national budget, $24.7m of which is to go towards offsetting the operating expenses of the stadium.

The facility, which was built with a US$30 million loan from China, hosted four Cricket World Cup 2007 warm-up matches and was the site for the grand opening ceremony of the tournament, but has been a burden to taxpayers who have had to be carrying its operation and maintenance costs.

Last year, the state gave $35.2m in support to the stadium, and Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL), which manages the stadium, said the Government was asked to pump more money into the facilities this year because it was not making enough money to cover its fixed costs.

"What we had before is not enough, and what has been happening is that IPL has been forced to support its operations," Brown said. "It is not generating enough money to pay for its fixed costs," Brown told The Gleaner.

He noted that the fixed costs associated with managing the facility are extremely high, pointing out that utilities and security account for the lion's share of the budget.

Minimal costs

"We have reduced the cost significantly. We have cut everything down to a minimum, anything left is bare bones. For people on permanent staff ... everything is down to a minimum. If you cut anyone, it's blood that's going to run," Brown said.

"Part of the problem is that in its present condition it is not rentable ... it needs capital improvements. We have made several proposals to the Government. One of the major issues is a proper irrigation system. Currently, we are watering the field from NWC (National Water Commission) water, and that is very costly, and the grass does not like chlorine," Brown told The Gleaner.

He said it would cost about $16 million to construct a pond at the facility and use it to provide water to irrigate the outfield.

"We have to improve the facilities. There are a number of proposals on the table, one of which is to create a cricket academy and get teams from abroad to come down and train, but until we get the funding, we can't do anything," Brown said.

Despite the high cost of managing the Trelawny Stadium, Brown said the worst option for the loss-making facility would be to close its doors.

"If you don't go in there and clean it on a regular basis it will deteriorate, and when you are ready to use it everything is bad. It does not suit you to lock it up," he said.

Of the $49.1 million to be spent at the Trelawny stadium, $29.6m will go towards the purchase of goods and services, $17.8m for utilities and communication services and $1.8 million to the payment of salaries for its four employees.