Senator urges private sector to invest in Greenfield Stadium – wants facility renamed in honour of Bolt
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Government Senator Don Wehby is calling on his colleagues in the private sector to invest in the re-development of the Greenfield Stadium in Trelawny, which he notes has major potential to advance Jamaica’s sports tourism industry.
Senator Wehby says the stadium, if properly redeveloped, can also become a state-of-the-art entertainment facility where local and international athletes train and showcase their skills.
Senator Wehby made the comments during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House of Parliament on Friday.
Wehby, who’s the chief executive officer of the Grace Kennedy Group, told Parliament that there’s no doubt that sports is big business across the world.
“When I was doing my research, I saw where estimates are that the sports industry in the United States is valued at 83 billion. My point is, sports is big big business and it could be a significant economic driver for Jamaica”, Senator Wehby noted before making his recommendation concerning the development of the stadium in Trelawny, which has been in a state of disrepair over the past few years.
“I want to speak on the Greenfield Stadium. It has been recognised time and again as having a potential major role in sports tourism. The stadium is an asset but based on data I was able to find, it is currently costing taxpayers $50 million per year in operating expenses with little opportunity to generate funds for maintenance. Not good,” he said. “My vision for the facility is to create a world-class sports stadium and entertainment centre with an Olympic-sized track and swimming pool. It’s much more than a cricket stadium.”
The Government Senator further elaborated on his recommendation.
“We can capitalise on our warm climate and the proximity of our climate to major hotels on the north coast. It can be a major asset for sports tourism. The stadium had the most beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea. It can be utilised to host training camps for athletes and to host international events,” he commented.
Senator Wehby says Jamaica has a competitive advantage in the area of sports, including tracking and field. He told Parliament that Jamaica has the best sprint coaches in the world.
“Right here in Jamaica, Glen Mills and Stephen Francis – they present a competitive advantage for our country. So I am still looking forward to the development of the Greenfield Stadium to make it a world-class venue to host both amateur and professional sports events. I had a discussion with Minister (Olivia) Grange and I was pleased to hear there are plans to implement phase one of the development of the stadium but we require support to make it happen”, Senator Wehby revealed.
Senator Wehby said he’s been advised that the initial estimate is that it will take approximately US$12 million to bring the stadium up to scratch.
“I believe, Mr President, that this should be done via a public sector private sector partnership. I don’t mean to offend anybody but when I think of some of the large entities which associate with some of our athletes, in my capacity as a Senator and private sector leader, I want to say to them, that it is time for them to invest in the infrastructure of Jamaica. It is time for them to put their money where their mouth is and enter into a public sector private sector partnership to develop the Greenfield Stadium,” Wehby commented.
The Government Senator also called for the stadium to be renamed in honour of multiple world record holder and track legend Usain Bolt, who’s widely regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time.
“I am also making a suggestion that when we execute the vision, that we rename the facility the Usain Bolt Stadium and Entertainment Center, in honour of the world’s fastest man who is a son of Trelawny. I want to tell you something… when you get the branding of a superstar like Usain Bolt, the private sector support will come. I believe we have an asset there that can be developed into a fantastic and world-class facility,” Senator Wehby remarked.