Minister inspects National Stadium as Country Prepares for Carifta
Nassau, Bahamas – With only a matter of weeks to go before the $100 million Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, the crown jewel of the 400 acre sporting complex, receives thousands of athletes, sporting officials and fans from across the region to attend the 2013 Carifta Games, senior sporting officials are assuring the Bahamian public that with the completion of minor upgrades to the stadium nothing will stand in the way of the successful launch of the sporting competition and the positioning of the Bahamas as the premier sports destination in the region.
Addressing the media during the 2013 Carifta Readiness press conference held Thursday at the Thomas A. Robinson Sports Stadium Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Daniel Johnson predicted that the 2013 Carifta Games would be an outstanding success for the Bahamas because of the strength of the hometown team and the construction of the best sporting facility in the region.
The facility, with a seating capacity of some 15,000, along with the adjoining stadium which has been refurbished and upgraded and will serve as a warm up facility for Carifta athletes, has been assessed for its readiness by three technical teams, including a US-based firm, the world athletic governing body and Chinese technical teams. “It is important to note that three technical teams have assessed our new and renovated facilities and have confirmed that today they are indeed world class standard. These agencies include the Beynon Sports Company; a company which has extensive experience in this business and is responsible for laying tracks in some of the most highly profiled sites throughout the United States… The other firms that have favourably assessed these facilities are the IAAF’s technical head and the technical teams from the Government of China and those from the Qilu Construction Company who built this stadium.”
Alluding to the fact that the Bahamas has not won a Carifta Game since 1984, Mr Johnson said that with the 2013 Games, young Bahamians now have the opportunity to renew the Bahamas’ journey to again becoming number one, “not only [as] a premier sporting entity in our region, but also a premier sporting destination in the hemisphere” he said.
He acknowledged the fact however, that despite the country’s inability to capture the top spot at past Carifta events, the nation has “produced a number of outstanding athletes at these games who have earned the prestigious Austin Sealy Award. They include the country’s first recipient, Maryann Higgs, followed by Laverne Eve, Pauline Davis-Thompson, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and, most recently, Anthonique Strachan.” The Austin Sealy Award is presented to the most outstanding athlete at the games.
Joining Mr Johnson at the press conference, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAAs) president Mike Sands noted that 500 plus athletes were expected to attend the 2013 Carifta Games and that some 70 coaches from the US were also expected to be on hand to view individual performances. Mr Sands said further that with the 30-day countdown to Carifta, he expected the upcoming Games to be the most exciting ever.
Also on hand, chairman of the National Sports Authority Leroy Archer detailed the minor upgrades needed to ensure complete readiness of the stadium. He pointed out that railings still needed to be installed and that repairs to the inner field were ongoing to ensure that the field met not only IAAF’s standard, but would also be upgraded to a level acceptable to International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the world governing body for soccer. Other upgrades include repairs to cracks, painting, the establishment of an Event Command Centre to the south of the field and the launching of the stadium’s online ticketing system, which is expected to be up and running beginning Monday. Tickets for the Carifta events will not be available through this venue however.
Basil Christie, chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2013 Carifta Games, promised that the opening ceremony would be an extraordinary display of Bahamian and Caribbean culture that would motivate the athletes to perform at their very best. He added that the grand celebration and spectacular entertainment which are being planned are meant to elevate the Games to more than a competition.