BY: CHRIS PATTERSON
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Athletes in and around central Jamaica should have the benefit of a first class sporting facility, come 2012, with the completion of the Herb McKenley Stadium in May Pen, Clarendon.
Communications Consultant to Minister of Transport and Works, Reginald Allen, tells JIS News that work has commenced on the facility, adding that the development, which is being done incrementally with local, national and international support, is expected to be finished within “two to three years.”
“All [of] the technical plans for landscaping [and] drainage…have been established. It is really the funding that determines the pace of the development.So the timing for roll-out and completion may be, naturally, impacted, and may be longer than desired. But we are working assiduously in terms of the process of development overall,” he says.
The facility, named in honour of the late Jamaican Olympian, Herb McKenley seeks to be commensurate with the tremendous achievement and pride that he brought to the country. It is also intended to bring a world class sporting arena to the area and the country on the whole.
Mr. Allen informs that the arena is in the second phase of the developmental process in terms of the outlay and the establishment of the facilities.
“The second stage is to establish and determine the financial arrangement to physically put in the first stages of the actual sporting facilities, meaning the running track, the football field and other relevant parts of the overall package, including various building,” he notes.
He points out that the first stage of the developmental process involves having [acquired] all the legal [documents], to harness financial support and otherwise to have secured the outlay in terms of all the drawings, the mapping and the establishment of a perimeter wall, adding that “the property, was bestowed by [a] philanthropist from the parish for use as a community and parish facility.”
The Communications Consultant informs that work thus far has seen the entire perimeter wall and five entry points built. “We are talking about 41 acres of property, although the perimeter wall does not cover all of it because there are outside areas for parking,” he explains, adding that significant sections of the area have already been improved by a nine foot wall.
“At this point the preparatory works are in place for the football field and the other detailed facilities, [such as] the.underground draining network [which] has [already] been done. We have to start from the bottom coming up and we have certainly started from the underground in terms of the necessary run-off [and] drainage to ensure quality.and to ensure protection from intense flooding,” he says.
Mr. Allen tells JIS News, that the construction of the stadium is aimed at boosting the facilities within central Jamaica.
“The facility is intended to give May Pen [and] central Jamaica ‘standard’ in terms of a facility that will bring a balance between Kingston, central Jamaica and western Jamaica. It is intended to be a sort of athletic training lab where you harness community talent and give them a facility to perform…that is on par with the international spectrum,” he says.
He further points out that it will also ensure continuity for athletes to be able to develop themselves and “hit the international stage.”
Some of the facilities, he outlines, include a nine-lane running track; a football field with a specialised high end turf; a basket ball and netball court; a boxing ring; and a multipurpose area.
The facilities are “almost all inclusive,” he explains, pointing out that there will be no features for the playing of cricket. “The rationale for this is that within the areas there are pretty good cricket facilities.so cricket is not wanting in terms of good facilities,” he says.
“Cricket and football compete heavily and the type of surface that we want to put in for football would pose a problem if cricket is played on it,” he continues.
The capacity of the Stadium is geared for 16,000 however “for the initial outlay the focus is getting to 12,000 but leaving the arrangements to eventually get back hopefully to 16,000 if necessary,” adding that space will be left for comfortable expansion.
He informs that the initial cost for the facility was $300 million but, “we are looking at quite a bit more than that now.” Mr. Allen indicated that support has been received from major stakeholders across the island.
“We have got broad support from community entities [such as] JAMALCO, the Jamaica Bauxite Institute [JBI] and a number of other corporate entities. International funding has been sought and broader support from local funding in other words the Sports Development Foundation, the Chase Fund, [and] the Petro Caribe funding,” he informs.
“The facility is intended to bring first class standard, so if someone is here even from overseas and they want to have a friendly party, we can have them utilise the facility, just like how someone would want to utilise the [National] stadium.
“It [the facility] is intended to uplift and entice talent…to go for their goal…hence the standards are critical, because it is meant for people to realise their dreams of making it to the international field.