Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Tim Munnings reassured the executive members of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) and Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for the CARIFTA Games that both stadiums will be ready for the regional meet, set to run at the end of March.
A lot of doubt is surfacing because the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium has yet to be certified, and the old track is currently under renovation. The CARIFTA Games, the biggest junior meet for regional athletes, is scheduled to take place March 28-April 1.
The BAAA will host their trials March 15-16. It is still uncertain which one of the facilities will be used for the trials.
“We have given the CARIFTA?organizers the ministry’s assurance and the assurance of the National Sports Authority, that the stadium will be certified and ready for CARIFTA,” said Munnings.
“We are confident with that. As you can see, even the warm-up track is being resurfaced. We are going to have a nice practice track, as well as competition track ready for CARIFTA. When our guests come to town, at the end of March, they are going to have a fantastic experience not only with the competition facility, but the surroundings which are also being landscaped very beautifully.”
Munnings was unable to go on record and disclosed what the hold up on certification for the new track and field stadium was. The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium was a gift to The Bahamas from the People’s Republic of China.
The 15,000-seat stadium is under the control of the National Sports Authority. It was officially opened on February 25, 2012.
Munnings did say that the ministry was trying to coordinate discussions with their Chinese colleagues, that the conversation was lengthy and took some time. He noted that the relationship is healthy and that both parties are working closely together.
Munnings added: “We will have either one or both tracks ready for trials. I think either of the tracks, I can not say which one will be ready, but it will be in time for trials.”
With the games less than 50 days away, the local governing body for track and field in the country, the BAAA, officially launched their campaign on Friday. Additional ads and banners will be made public today.
More are expected to be erected and aired as the games draw near. Chairman of the LOC, Basil Christie is encouraging schools to join in the CARIFTA fever. A dedicated team has been informed to lift school spirit throughout the country. Corporate Bahamas can join in the race by making financial contributions to the event.
According to Christie, the budget for the event is $1.2 million, and the LOC can account for around $650,000 at this point.
Christie said: “We are confident with our pledges and commitment, that we are satisfied that we are going to reach our budget. The tickets were highly motivated to fill the stadium, so the tickets start as low as $5. There is also preferred seating. A lot of people want to be near to the finish line. These tickets start fro $5, $10 or $20 and there are season tickets in the VIP start from $55. Tickets can be purchased from of our website, which is www.carfita2013.com.
“I think every aspect of our planning is in place and we will be ready. Our biggest challenge was accommodations. All of our activities are working. We just don’t make public statements on what we are doing, but everything will be in place. We have a very organized security team and we have the cooperation of the police. We have as many as 500 police officers assigned to CARIFTA, and as many security officers who will be in the stadium and at the games village as well as the parking lots. Every committee has gone through training. The volunteers, the ushers and security. The availability of parking will necessarily be a concern and that is being worked on. If we are filling the stadium with 15,000 people, there will have to be some car pooling and bussing. There is a system in place for organized parking.”
This is the 42nd edition of the CARIFTA Games. More than 1,000 athletes and coaches, from about 26 countries in the Caribbean are expected to participate in the event.
By Kelsie Johnson
Guardian Sports Reporter