Is it a case of too little too late, or better late than never, as it pertains to the proposed $EC1,820,394.95, earmarked for repairs to Arnos Vale One Playing Field?
It was revealed last Tuesday that lot one of the project entailed the rehabilitation of the Double Decker Stand, Frank Thomas Stand and the Bleachers. Lot Two thus includes repairs to the Michael Findlay Pavilion, the Administrative Building and the Media Centre.
Indeed, these are welcomed moves, but are they sufficient? Yes, there were pronouncements three years ago, that restorative work was to be done on the facility.
Then, deterioration was conspicuous, and in some instances, proved a health and safety hazard to users of the playing field.
Since, things have exacerbated and the Double Decker as well as the Media Centre have become bat infested. Similarly, the stairs leading to the private boxes at the Frank Thomas Stand are dilapidated and rickety.
Significantly, the toilet and sewerage system at the Double Decker Stand have been dysfunctional for some time.
One would concede that the unexpected advent of the COVID- 19 pandemic and the subsequent volcanic eruptions last year would have placed the intent on the back burner, and that was understandable.
So as some positive moves are being pursued to have some restorative work done, it still remains are we positioning ourselves to again host international Cricket matches?
It takes more than repairs to the present infrastructure for St Vincent and the Grenadines to return to the list of regional venues.
Our policy makers have failed to keep pace with the demands and requirements, hence St Vincent and the Grenadines has been left to watch other venues come on stream and surpass us.
As it is, we here in St Vincent and the Grenadines get the dregs, the regional youth tournaments, along with spits of matches that maybe no one else wants to host.
If then that is what we are contented with, then it is all well and good to carry out piecemeal repairs of our main sporting arena.
No longer are the pristine and picturesque nature of the Arnos Vale One Playing Field cutting it as it takes more than what meets the eye for us to be a priority host.
But, the blame for the degradation and somewhat neglect of the country’s premier sporting facility must lie squarely on the crafters of national policies.
Sixteen years ago, when the refurbishment of the three grounds, namely- Arnos Vale One, Sion Hill Playing Field and the Stubbs Playing Field, concerns were raised about biting off more than we can chew.
At that time, the country was preparing to host warm up matches ahead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup.
Then, some persons were adamant that unless there was a definitive maintenance plan, Arnos Vale One would have posed problems.
In 2022, and even prior, the reality has struck us and we are now applying the band aid remedy.
This column, whilst appreciating that our country is not fortunate to have an abundance of financial wealth, however, had persons in decision- making positions in 2006 and 2007 taken heed, we would not have been in this predicament.
One of the troubling issues that was highlighted back in 2006 was the said Double Decker Stand, as persons reasoned that it would become a white elephant as it would rarely be fully patronized. This has come to hit us in the face.
It may not be too late for the relevant authorities to demolish the top tier of the Double Decker, as the bottom tier will be more manageable.
The days of having large structures at sporting venues are far gone, as maintenance cost is a critical factor.
Hopefully, the various ministries in the government apparatus would take a critical look at the Arnos Vale One Playing Field, and devise a way of making it sustainable.
Unfortunately, there is no structured marketing plan, except for the dribs and drabs of social events hosted there.
Until then, we will continue to do periodic repairs with no steady income stream flowing.