The long wait will soon be over.
It may not be completed for the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletic Championships (BSSAC) but local athletes will have a brand new track and field stadium by next year 2019.
Word of this from Minister of Sports John King who was speaking at a press conference in his ministry’s Sky Mall headquarters this afternoon to congratulate the outstanding achievement of the bodybuilding and fitness athletes who attended the recently concluded CAC Championships in Mexico.
The news will come as music to the ears of athletes and coaches who would have made repeated calls for a new facility since the 30-year-old Waterford, St Michael track was deemed unsafe a couple years ago.
The stands were condemned for use, resulting in the relocation of several track and field meets to the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.
Just months ago, Minister King had assured Barbadians of a new stadium by the year 2022.
However, today, King announced that the finish line would be brought forward and a new facility would be erected four years ahead of schedule.
“One thing that I can say where the stadium is concerned, is that it will be finished before the second half of next year. That is the promise I can make to you.”
“It will be redone and finished. We have a number of options on the table, it is just now to sit down with the entities and decide how we are going to go forward with it,” King told reporters.
In fact, according to the newly installed minister, the rebuilt stadium is a main priority of the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government.
“For sports, it is a mission-critical thing that has to be done. We have a timeline of at least before the second half of next year and that is what we are working towards.”
King’s comments came on the back of national hurdler Shane Braithwaite and the men’s 100m relay team capturing gold medals at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games this week.
Former sports minister Stephen Lashley had promised to give athletes an improved facility earlier in the year while stating that the then Government expected to receive a sum of money from the People’s Republic of China.
However, China had informed the administration that it couldn’t finance the project for another two years.
Back in January During the launch of the BSSAC 2018 at the Coleridge and Parry School in St Peter, assistant meet director Andrew Brathwaite was singing the need for a track and field arena.
“All that we are hoping for is a stadium so we can stage the meet in the way that we want to stage it. As a member of the organizing committee, I am making that call upfront. We really need a facility to bring out the best in the athletes that are preparing for competition.
“We know that this is the training ground for the athletes moving to the CARIFTA stage and other junior meets and we certainly need the infrastructure in place to allow us to see the best in our athletes as we go forward,” he said.
Brathwaite explained that thought was given to occupy the Usain Bolt Sports Complex but a number of question marks were raised in terms of the quality of the track named after former Barbadian 110m hurdles champion Ryan Brathwaite.
“Some persons (coaches) indicated that the track would have been too hard for the athletes who would be competing on back to back days and also BSSAC falls very close to the CARIFTA games and persons were of the opinion that people could pick up injuries based on the hardness of the track. With that in mind, we decided to stay with the quality track of the National Stadium.”