The dearth of proper indoor facilities for most sports in Barbados has been brought into sharp focus with the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association being forced to take their domestic programme into a warehouse on Fontabelle, St Michael.
This is the association’s plight as the Wildey Gymnasium which has been home for activities ranging from sports and entertainment, to funeral and church services, will soon be undergoing $19 million in renovations starting this month and will not be available for a minimum of about 14 months.
Today in an interview withBarbados TODAY, BABA president Derrick Garret said the situation was not ideal but until his association found a home which they were in the process of doing through a real estate agent, they would have to contend with the Warehouse put in place at Kensington Oval.
Members of the BABA’s executive toured the warehouse yesterday and the effects of the dilemma were felt immediately as the temporary facility was not ready for use. Two Premier League games had to be rescheduled due to unsuitable conditions, though management of the Gymnasium Limited assured preparations would be completed with dispatch in an effort to resume matches this coming weekend.
Garrett said even though conditions weren’t completely suitable they was still good enough for other purposes and getting the season completed was one of their primary focuses.
“We are satisfied with the facility to the extent that some of the issues we raised concerns about would be dealt with. In other words there were three areas of concerns that we had and one was the ventilation which they said they would be in a position to look at. The other one was the lighting and then there were some steel support for the roof that came down one side of the building that would need to be padded so players would not have any injuries,” Garrett explained.
He added: “We are looking at a warehouse which we can convert into a basketball court and we toured a number of places through a real estate agent and some of the places that they were able to source but were out of the way. For instance, there is a warehouse close to Coral Ridge which was adequate but we felt that it is a pretty long distance to travel for people who don’t have transport. We even looked at one in St Phillip as well but we weren’t able to source [a facility] around the Bridgetown area. So that is something we are still actively looking at.”
Once those three issues are rectified the BABA should be back on the bounce by Sunday. However, where seating is concerned that might be another problem for spectators who may not have the best vantage points to watch the games. However Garrett said he hoped that the Gymnasium Limited would be able to source enough bleachers that could adequately provide seating to host the number of spectators who attend the games, especially the playoffs which are imminent.
“The only problem is that they [spectators] would be sitting on either end of the basket and that is not the most ideal position to watch the games. The reason being persons wouldn’t be able to sit on the sides. Obviously because of the size of the facility it would not be the most ideal position sitting on either side of the basket but at least you can still get a view of the game,” he said.
Efforts by Barbados TODAY to reach Interim Chief executive officer of the Gymnasium Limited and National Sports Council, Jerry Blenman, proved unsuccessful.