The possibility of Kensington Oval being used for the sole purpose of playing cricket is very remote. And if it were used exclusively for cricket it would cost in the region of $2 million per year to cover the operations, says chief executive officer of Kensington Oval Management Inc. (KOMI), Ben Toppin.
Toppin’s assertions come as preparations are being finalised for the staging of the annual Pic-O-De-Crop finals as well as the Rise Soca Kingdom show on July 31.
There have been public outcry and concerns mostly by cricket enthusiasts about the staging of non-cricket events at “the Mecca” over the past couple of years since it was reconstructed for the 2007 ICC World Cup final held in Barbados.
Earlier this month, Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president Conde Riley and acting chief executive officer Uina Prescod expressed fears that major damage could be done to the Oval if a stage was erected on the field for the imminent cultural events.
However, with the Barbados Tridents set to take on St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) at the Oval next month, Toppin gave the assurance the outfield would not be threatened.
“The issue of the Pic-O-De-Crop stage having an impact on the field so close to CPL was resolved in May. There is no issue,” he stated.
However, the CEO toldBarbados TODAY that he saw no problem with using the Oval for cricket only if the cost of running the facility was taken care of.
“We can use it for cricket only if somebody is prepared to fill in those blanks in terms of the finances. If somebody is willing to come up with the amount of money it takes to run a sporting facility of this size, of course, we can use it for cricket only. The operating expenses are in the vicinity of two million dollars,” he said.
Nevertheless, Toppin disclosed that Kensington Oval was always intended to be a facility which catered to events outside of sports.
“The new Kensington Oval was conceptualized as a multi-purpose facility. Most people accept that. Cricket cannot cover the cost of running Kensington Oval. The concept of a single purpose facility has been universally discredited years ago. There are very few facilities like that. A single purpose facility in an economy and society this size cannot be cost-effective.”
When asked about a number of patches plaguing the outfield at Kensington Oval, Toppin revealed that a year-long process must be followed in order for the field to be in tip-top condition at all times.
“It involves cutting the grass right down to the roots, it will look like if you are forking the entire field up. It is called verity cutting. The soil has to be tilled and re-sanded. It will call for the complete disruption of the surface then followed by a process of levelling, watering and grooming so it comes back looking like a carpet. Under the present circumstances based on the frequency of use and the pattern of use patches will be forming in certain areas all the time,” he said.
Toppin added: “The difficulty is if you want a multipurpose facility you have to design it that way. There are cricket facilities in Australia that get their biggest crowd from other sports using big screens. There are also football facilities in England that double as athletics tracks as well. The idea of single-purpose facilities has been discarded worldwide.”
He also hinted that if the Oval was solely used for cricket fewer workers would be employed.
“We operate on a $4 million budget, half of which we generate on our own and the other half comes from Government assistance. I am assuming that if you are using it for cricket only, you would need far less staff, so money could be saved there,” he said.