Friday 28 February, 2020

Upgrade of National Stadium to start early in 2021 - Grange

Minister of Sport, Olivia Grange (left) gets the attention of  Delroy Williams, mayor of Kingston,  during the launch of the fifth staging of the Racers Grand Prix at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday, January 23, 2020. (PHOTO: Marlon Reid).

Minister of Sport, Olivia Grange (left) gets the attention of Delroy Williams, mayor of Kingston, during the launch of the fifth staging of the Racers Grand Prix at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday, January 23, 2020. (PHOTO: Marlon Reid).

The Minister of Sport, Olivia Grange, has indicated that construction work that will signal the start of a major upgrade of the National Stadium at Independence Park in Kingston is set to commence early in 2021.

Grange first announced the planned upgrade of the National Stadium as well as the Trelawny multipurpose facility in 2019. She provided an update on those plans on Thursday while addressing the official launch of the Racers Grand Prix at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Last year, Grange said the Government had signed a contract worth $30 million with Apec Consultants, “to ensure that the project is properly researched before construction begins”.

On Thursday, Grange revealed that the proposal has since been completed by the consultants hired by the Public Investment Management Secretariat (PIMSEC) and presented to the Government entity for approval.

“I asked the consultants when are we going to roll this out and based on the schedule, hopefully we will be starting construction early next year and this is a major achievement,” Grange stated. “We are closer to the development of the national stadium complex. Much closer,” Grange added.

The minister reiterated that the bleachers section of the stadium, which seats the majority of patrons will be covered, the velodrome removed and over 10,000 new seats added. A new velodrome will be constructed within the Independence Park complex.

Additionally, the new stadium complex will host a sports museum, and a state-of-the-art, anti-doping facility. Grange said construction could take up to three years.

“Originally, we had seen this project over a three-year period, but let’s see at the end of the year once we have fine-tuned everything if there are some things we can move and fast track.

“It will take another year for us to fine-tune and determine the phases, determine how we are going to manage events that would normally be held in the stadium, and how we will phase the development. So that is where we are now in determining the way forward,” said Grange.

The minister expressed that once the facility is upgraded, Jamaica would have increased its chances of achieving Diamond League status and eventually hosting a World Championship event.

The fifth staging of the Racers Grand Prix on June 13 has been granted gold status for 10 years on the newly-created World Athletics Continental Tour. The new designation makes it the second-biggest meet in the western hemisphere, behind the Prefontaine Classic in the USA, a Diamond League event.

“It is very important because getting Diamond League status would again create other opportunities and open up the world to us,” Grange said. “We are doing well as it is, but that would take us now to another level,” she noted.

“We definitely want to host international events. With Racers doing what they are doing, the Government doing what it has to do in putting the infrastructure in and bringing private sector on board, it means that we are moving in the right direction and we are pulling the team together to realise that the sky is the limit once we pull all of this together,” the minister added.

She previously disclosed that once the upgrade of the Trelawny multipurpose facility is completed, it will likely be named the Usain Bolt Stadium.

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