After ten years and $160 million in state funds pumped into Kensington Oval, the facility has been branded a monumental white elephant.
And worse yet, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite says the situation is replicated across the Caribbean, forcing some territories to engage in cricket “prostitution” as they desperately try to attract lucrative Twenty20 cricket tournaments to similar facilities.
The Appropriation Bill 2018 debate continued last night in the House of Assembly for the fourth straight day, and Brathwaite, who is also Minister of Home Affairs, insisted that Barbados’ famous cricket ground should have been a multi-purpose facility catering to other sporting disciplines and cultural activities to contribute to its financial upkeep.
He pointed to similar facilities in countries like New Zealand and Australia where various sports like rugby and football were accommodated on cricket grounds.
Brathwaite called on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and Kensington Oval Management Inc (KOMI) to settle their long-running differences on the way forward for Kensington Oval.
“We have to address the whole relationship between KOMI and the BCA. . . . Maybe we should not have spent the $160 million on Kensington Oval but having spent that amount of money in a small nation I believe . . . that the stadium should be a multi-purpose stadium,” Brathwaite, the Member of Parliament for St Philip South, told the Lower Chamber.
“We should not have a $160 million stadium that is used once or twice a year,” he contended.
But Brathwaite’s concerns went further, as he suggested many countries in the region had found themselves in a similar state to Barbados after building huge, expensive facilities for Cricket World Cup 2007 and were now forced to “prostitute” themselves paying out millions of dollars to attract T20 tournament organisers to choose their grounds for games.
“The legacy of Cricket World Cup is that we all have stadiums. They are there, and they are all white elephants. We should not fall into that trap.”
He added: “We are now bidding against each other and writing cheques for $2 million to CPL to have one game or a couple of games. It is almost prostitution time when it comes every year. . . . Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent, Antigua, everyone built a new stadium.”
The St Philip South MP added: “It is my hope that the Ministry will find a way to solve the issue in terms of what seems to be an impasse between KOMI and the BCA; to find a way to move the BCA away from those idealistic days that the stadium should only be used for cricket; that you should not have any shows there . . . you should not have football because across the region this is the legacy of Cricket World Cup.”