Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Letter of the Day | Unlock Ja’s potential to attract and host int’l events

Published:Thursday | June 13, 2024 | 12:06 AM


The recent rescheduling of the Concacaf World Cup-qualifying game between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, due to the lighting at the National Stadium not meeting FIFA’s minimum standards, serves as a poignant reminder of the Government’s recurrent mismanagement of our sporting facilities. This failure to meet global standards is familiar, and we must demand a change.

The challenge of installing the required lighting fixtures on time is not an isolated incident. We remember the unfortunate cancellation of a swimming meet by the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) in December 2021 due to pool discolouration. Furthermore, the deterioration of the Catherine Hall Stadium and running track, and the neglect of the Trelawny Cricket Stadium constructed for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, serves as prominent examples of this ongoing problem.

Post-Independence governments must improve their management of companies and facilities. Mismanagement is common in many sectors; Air Jamaica’s failure, despite numerous reports highlighting its management issues, contrasts sharply with the success seen in entities like Sangster International Airport, which have thrived after being divested or leased by the Government.

As a nation with a rich sporting heritage, Jamaica has the potential to host events of global standards. However, this potential is constrained by the consistent mismanagement of our sporting facilities. To unlock our full potential, I strongly advocate for the Government to consider leasing, divesting, or entering into private-public partnerships for the Independence Park and Catherine Hall facilities. This new approach could be the key to unlocking our potential to attract and host international events.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the leasing, divesting, or public-private partnership models. On the one hand, it can improve the efficiency and management of the facilities; on the other hand, this would be a significant investment for investors, who anticipate making a profit for the shareholders. This could result in higher entrance fees to the facilities and increased rentals for sports associations. If the Government opts, for example, for a public-private partnership, it can use its financial resources to subsidise rentals and entrance fees for sporting associations and patrons, respectively.

At the heart of my argument lies a critical necessity for a paradigm shift in sports facility management. This change seeks to maintain professional standards, minimise resource wastage, build cutting-edge facilities for our athletes, and draw and host international events.