By Robert Bailey, Jamaica Gleaner,
Minister of Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange has informed The Gleaner that there will be an increase in the cost to the rent the Independence Park Limited (IPL) sporting facilities across the country.
The IPL facilities consist of the National Stadium, Stadium East, the Leila Robinson Courts, National Indoor Sports Complex, the National Arena and the National Aquatics Centre, which are all located in St Andrew, plus the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium.
The sporting facilities have been closed since March due to COVID-19 pandemic, and Grange noted that the increase was necessary due to additional sanitisation personnel and features that will be installed at the facilities.
“Organisations will have to be prepared for additional charges for sanitation for anything that is being held there because we have to put in extra facilities to ensure that there is proper sanitisation, and everybody will have to observe our protocols that are set out,” said Grange.
“We will have to put in additional staff because there will be a lot more sanitisation stations at all our facilities and, therefore, there will be additional charges to rent these facilities,” she said. “The staff is not permanent because the staff is hired based on the usage of the facility.”
ANNOUNCEMENT AT A LATER DATE
She said that she will announce the details of the increase at a later date.
The minister underlined that the facilities remained close to the public except for a few track and field athletes, who have been granted permission by the ministry to work out at the venues.
“The Stadium East track, we have allowed training there, but the numbers are limited based on the protocols, and it is for national athletes and primarily track and field athletes,” said Grange.
“The coaches and administrative personnel who are present at this facility have to wear mask and the athletes have to wear mask when they are not actually going through their training exercises, and sanitisation is also a critical part of the arrangement,” she stated.
Grange noted that with the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) football season scheduled to begin in September, the IPL have held discussions with the organisers of the event as they seek to establish a number of protocols and guidelines for these competitions.
“We are preparing guidelines and protocols for all sporting associations, which will be sent to them,” she said.
“In fact, I have proposed a virtual meeting with the sporting bodies to discuss the matter of the protocols that have to be observed based on the guidelines from the Ministry of Health,” she stated.
Photo: Odette Grant, a resident of the nearby Swallowfield community and temporary employee of Independence Park Limited, conducts a clean-up of the National Stadium ahead of last year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships