Trelawny's 'white elephant' to be renamed in Bolt's honour

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

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FOLLOWING the Government's approval of a $26-million installation of an irrigation system, the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium will be renamed in honour of Jamaica's greatest athlete Usain Bolt.


The facility will be known as the Usain Bolt Sports Academy.


Natalie Neita-Headley, the minister with responsibility for sports, said the idea is the brainchild of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.


"It has been the Prime Minister's dream, not just since Beijing 2015, but her desire to have that stadium in his homeland appropriately named, the Usain Bolt Sports Academy," said Neita Headley.


"But we will not do so, however, until completing plans of putting in the proper infrastructure," she noted.


Bolt, 29, was born in Sherwood Content in Trelawny and is widely regarded as the world's greatest sprinter of all time, holding world records of 9.58 seconds for the 100m and an amazing 19.19 for the 200m. He was also a part of Jamaica's 4x100m world record team of 36.84 seconds.


The Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium, which was built in 2007 at a cost of approximately US$30 million, has been the proverbial white elephant due to a lack of activity there and its failure to generate cash.


But the Minister thinks it is quite capable of holding its own, especially with the name Usain Bolt associated with it.


"I think it will be a great utilisation of the space, a fabulous venue. Many persons across the world will want to be associated with that stadium, moreso, if it is named Usain Bolt Sports Academy," Neita-Headley pointed out.


"We would want people to come here to train and be a part of sports, our tourism product," the minister added.


The Cabinet has also given its approval for the construction of the proposed National Sports Museum at an approved site at the National Stadium complex.


The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has conducted a feasibility study and a design competition among architectural students will be undertaken. $39.7 million has been provided in the present budget for the design and preliminary research relating to the project.


The Sport Infrastructure and Capacity Building Committee of the National Council on Sport, chaired by Don Anderson, is leading the charge on this project.


"We encourage corporate sponsors to join us in this exciting venture. Already some corporations have expressed their interest in partnering with us," said Neita-Headley.


Meanwhile, the Government has, for the first time, allocated in the 2015/2016 budget, $71 million to assist in offsetting the costs to athletes and federations in preparing for regional and international competitions through greater access and use of the national sporting facilities.


An energy audit has been undertaken for the solarisation of the National Indoor Sport Centre as a pilot project of the MSTEM led by National Energy Solutions Limited (formerly Rural Electrification Programme).


This initiative was launched in July 29, 2015 and is expected to significantly lower the cost for usage by our primary stakeholders, the sport associations.


Then for later this year, another $45 million has been set aside for the upgrading of the electrical system at the Stadium Pool. Last year $31.4 million was spent on the stadium pool filters.



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