PM: Upgrade or be overlooked
November 24, 2006

PM: Upgrade or be overlooked

Lashing out at critics who have chastised the government for spending just over $40 million dollars to prepare Arnos Vale playing field for the warm up matches of World Cup Cricket, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves emphasized that had this country not spent money to upgrade it’s facility, it would not be looked upon as a serious cricketing venue for future international test cricket matches.

The Prime Minister stated this forcefully at a press conference after he and cabinet ministers toured the arena last Friday as part of their pre visit to the official International Cricket Council, ICC inspection which takes place today.{{more}}

He noted that although warm up matches and not the actual World Cup Cricket matches would be played in St Vincent and the Grenadines for the international tournament, spending just over $40 million to improve the facilities would show that this government and it’s people was taking sports seriously. He also reiterated that if this country does not upgrade, it would be overlooked in the future since other countries in the Caribbean are ensuring that their fields are up to par.

He said that not only is the Arnos Vale playing field being upgraded to international test cricket standard, but other cricket fields around the country such as Stubbs, Sion Hill and Arnos Vale Two are being upgraded to first class cricket standard.

The leader said that this would ensure that a legacy would endure, so that even after World Cup Cricket this country would have excellent sporting facilities.

Indicating that he was pleased with the progress of the cricket grounds that had an end of year deadline, Gonsalves pointed out that he was however concerned that the modern press facility and the double decker stands were a bit behind schedule and called on labourers and other artisans to sign up and get employed at the construction site.

He was however pleased that the administrative and players pavilion that houses the gym and medical facility was ahead of schedule and commended the Local Organisating Committee, LOC on the Cricket World Cup 2007 Organising Company SVG-Inc for carrying out the operations smoothly. He noted that there were shortages of workmen and cement not only in St Vincent and the Grenadines but around the region as preparations for World Cup hastens.

Noting that the facility would be able to pay back for itself over time, Dr Gonslves said that not only would the Arnos Vale playing field be able to host cricket matches, but with a conference room that seats 75 persons and a restaurant area, other events can be held at the facility.

The Prime Minister also noted that not only were the financial aspects of improving the cricket site put in place, but also the legislative measures with the passing of the Sunset Legislation. He said this law was passed to accommodate the World Cup Cricket Season to handle issues such as high level security against terrorism, ambush marketing from other companies other than those companies registered to sponsor World Cup Cricket, medical emergencies and immigration to allow the free movement of travel of sporting fans and cricket officials among other things.

Dr Gonsalves also stressed that this country was serious about being part of the historic event.

He said that this country has already invested US$1.6 million in the security aspect of the event since World Cup Cricket is the third largest sporting event after the Olympics and World Cup Football and security is one of the main points on the agenda.