I remember someone saying to me while I was growing up that you never realize how poor your home looks until you invite someone to visit.  This is where I believe Jamaica is right now as some people within these shores are thinking of making Jamaica a Diamond League destination.

If the Jamaica International Invitational is to become a Diamond League meet it means that, as a nation,  we would be inviting in cameras from all over the world. Our star athletes would be competing against the very best in the world in a variety of disciplines that would require us to put the stadium on show even more than we do now. But before we can invite the world in we have to spruce up our house so as to avoid potential embarrassment.

Last weekend I was at the Queens Grace Jackson meet at the 50-year-old facility and had reason to run across the field to speak with some Australian athletes who were here and have a word with or two them. Afterwards I took the athlete out to the entrance facing the Stadium East field to get a decent picture in proper lighting and what I saw was embarrassing.

Look, I understand that Independence Park Limited has limited funding with which to maintain the facility. The evidence is there. The cement walkway has crumbled and in desperate need of repair and the place just looks old and in need of a serious face-lift, but the cut grass that littered a section of the entrance, a giant sign that was left discarded near to the concession stands, cut branches lying around atop equipment speak to neglect more than anything else. Is this the kind of image that we want our national stadium to be projecting?

I already feel we have achieved a miracle in having an IAAF World Challenge meet at the stadium that aesthetically is not up to scratch, but it’s all we have. Going forward however, until we can somehow raise the billions of Jamaican dollars needed to either rehabilitate the National Stadium or build a brand new one, we need to make sure that it looks the part of a National Stadium.

It’s almost ironic that the people of this country, in their perpetual state of ignorance, could not see the need for a national stadium when Norman Washington Manley first proposed building one more than five decades ago. A lifetime later it is still the only one we have suitable to host a World Challenge meet and potentially a Diamond League meeting. In many ways the stadium reflects just how far we have regressed in all that time and like the economy – broken down and desperately need of repair – the national stadium needs a makeover, a new lease on life.

In the meantime however, until we can inject that life into it, we need to make sure that even in its ‘broken down’ state, that we can invite guests in without fearing embarrassment.

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  1. The National Stadium is dilapidated and has out grown its capacity. We will be fooling ourselves if we believe that the present sporting facilities are adequate enough to attract international revenue. I propose that the country develop a major sports academy near to Montego Bay. This academy would serve the following purposes: filter students who wish to continue Sports from the High Schools, instead of the competitiveness being created with schools with more facilities; create an international programme for all other countries interested in short-term stints that the Australians undertook; facilities nearby comprising Olympic swimming pool, football stadium, track and fields AND accommodation to be rented to both local and international athletes / professionals.
    Proposal could be made to our athletes who have been successful so far, Jamaican coaches and private organisations on a share-holding bases, match funded by the government.
    I implore all Jamaicans to seriously think outside of the box and realise such a venture is to be established as soon as possible, especially if Jamaicans continue to excel at the Rio meet.

  2. johntowit says:

    Firstly it seems only Lois and I are interested in what should have been a fundamental debate for all Jamaicans. Its imperative.

    I’ve seen where you’re comming around to logics but because of probably arrogance you fall short of saying outright – Jamaica/Kingston needs a spanking new brand stadium. Simple.

    At the moment Jamaica have 2 solid opportunities to turn around the complete south coast into a totally whole developed infrastructure – potentially turning Jamaica into the leading Caribbean economy.

    1st: The proposed/obvious “Jamaica Transhipment and Logistics Hub” – it would directly transformed Kingston, St Andrew, St Thomas, St Catherine, Clarendon and the rest of the south coast the tremor which would be felt around the rest of the country.

    2nd: The Grand National Stadium – The related infrastructural upliftment from this exercise would have transformed the entire East Kingston, parts of St Andrew and St Thomas. Imagine a 4 or 6 lane highway clinging to the sides of Long Mountain all the way from Rockfort where it joins the new Michael Manley High Way all the way up to new stadium towards Matilda’s Corner. That would cut journey time significantly for traffic comming from the Air Port and the Eastern parishes towards New Kingston and Papine (read my previous blog).

    If people dont believe me the proof is in the pudding: Commission a detailed building (including structural) survey of the existing stadium and afterwards read the report, recommendations and conclusion – and you will see for yourself.

  3. johntowit says:

    People must listen to Desmond McEnzie, as the preceding mayor he alarmed us about the structural integrity of the grand stand; our planning processes are ineffective and inefficient – too many illegitimate developments in the city, he tried to do something about it, did’nt he? He did’nt got much support.

    So what is this present mayor (Angella Burke) doing about illegal construction & planning authority bureaucracy?

    McEnzie struck a very important chord, that in the event of a devastating earthquake (God forbids) because we are aligned with one of the main earthquake plains/fault line in the region, he says Jamaica is ilprepared and particularly Kingston & St Andrew. He proposed that a section of the May Pen cemetry be constantly cleared and in readiness as a source of muster point, build tents, etc.

    However, I would make a point about safe guarding the Institute of Jamaica (East St). Better still why not remove it to a much higher ground e.g. Stony Hill. Because they’re too much important documents, books (rear materials), history papers that are at risk. And most of these if not all are in their original form and to lose everything to a devastating tidal wave (tsunami) would be more than an Unfortunate.

  4. Ten Percent from all events at the stadium should have been putting aside for the maintenance of the stadium, that probably was not happening so it fall apart.Our sport sport men and women have work very hard to bring excellence to Jamaica,only to find our leaders sleeping.The Mayor and the Town clerk must travel around the city and identify things that need to be done around the city.Members of the public should not have to be telling then what need to be done,they should have been telling the public.It would very interesting to know how they spend their days.

  5. Jo Bent says:

    Can the stadium hold 10,000 seated?
    It needs to be improved with more seats,
    restrooms, cameras all around,restaurant/bars and a security room so the cameras pan all areas and security ppl is given extensive
    background investigations, not gatekeepers
    trying to chat up everything moving in a
    Only then could guests be invited here
    overall security, class, comfort and rules
    like no smoking areas ought to be in place

  6. johntowit says:

    @Joe. Like I said b4 let us for 1 minute seek professional advise and say commission a Building Survey Report on the present state of our National Stadium. Taking into account:
    1. Structural survey
    2. Building services (plumbing (Is there sufficent bathrooms, toilets for dis-abled?), electrical, electronics, etc.) survey
    3. Furniture and Fixtures survey (seatings and materials – do they fit current internal standards?)
    4. Health & Safety (Are there sufficent exit points, are there any emergency exit points?)

    That’s just an example of some of the items that would be included. Then all and sundry will see the truth for themselves !!!

    Then we look at the Jamaican fans, I’ve seen international meets at the stadium where the fans does’nt even interact with the field events athletes. E.g. I’ve seen a male long jumper at the start of his run held up his hands to get the stadium to help with his rythym – to no avail.

    Look at the start of the sprints, u cant even get the fans to be absolutely quiet for da start – they’re blowing their vuvuzelas (ban vuvuzelas). Now compare Jamaica to a Diamond league meet in Sweden – the fans responds to jumpers, they remain quiet 4 da start of sprints. So even da Jamaican public is’nt discipline enough to behave appropriately in an internatinal meet. So how r u supposed to host diamond leagues, World athletics championship if even da Jamaicans dont know how to be obiedient to da starters, and interact with field eventers?

    So even JAAA have loads to do.

  7. Jo Bent says:

    @ John totally agreee

  8. Guest says:

    The fact is that we need a brand new state of the art facility with both indoor and outdoor facilities….we’re looking in the region of US $500m…now it’s all good and well to say that. How will we finance it?

  9. Tika says:

    Jamaica cant afford that kind

    of bill right now, structural

    rehabilitation, more seatings

    and maximum state of the art

    security would be a good start

    with metal detectors at entrances

    also an official VIP box section.

  10. johntowit says:

    @Guest: Bonds, stocks, shares, etc; furthermore infrastructures like these can also be done by PPP/PFI – public private partnership/private finance initiative with a BOT ( build operate transfer – contract to say last 10 to 20 years then being transferred back to Jamaica). That’s just a v.basic outline which will become more intricate.

    Jamaican sports at the moment have demanded global attention so the venture with the right market skills will be attractive to financiers. Especially as how the government is on a sports tourism crusade and this so-called 2030 vision (”political” and superficial).

  11. Newton says:

    The National Stadium has long outgrown its usefullness and needs to be replaced with a modern structure that meets international standards. First of all, even though the stadium seats 30-35,000, almost everyone tries to get grandstand seats and only go to the bleachers if grandstand seats are not available. How can you make a profit from any event at the stadium when over 80% of the seats are at $1000 (approx. US$11)each?

    We need to build a new stadium with minimum 50,000 seats. If all seats are covered then seats can be priced according to the viewing experience. For football, sideline seats closest to the field would attract the highest price with behind the goal seats at the lowest price. Track events would also be priced with highest prices for the hundred meter straight with finish line seats at a premium. By my estimation such a stadium with 20,000 sideline seats at $5,000 for a football match would gross $100 million without counting corner and behind the goal seats. Adding luxury boxes would bring in additional revenue as would naming rights and virtually ensure that the stadium operates at a profit.

    If we have the will it can be done. I am sure lands can be found close to Independence Park or in Six miles/Ferry area for a new stadium. If we start now maybe we can have it ready for the second renewal of the Jamaica Diamond league event and 2018 World Cup qualifications.

  12. Freddy says:

    Norman Manley also suggested building an airport in the north and people opposed it. GC Foster sports college was also opposed in more recent times.
    Maybe we cannot afford to build a new stadium during this period of austerity but we can at least maintain what we have. From the article it seems that it needs proper managemet.
    I am now available for the job…..

  13. Stella Merriweather says:

    After all is said and done, MAINTENANCE is the key to keep all facilities and building going. We need to have trained professionals to get the job done and not people who does slipshod work. Prime example of the maintenance guys who cut the grass, trimmed the plant, etc and left it there instead of completing the job. They need to know that the cut branches and cut grass are not manure. There are ways in doing things.
    Happy Friday Folks!!!!!!!!

  14. george miller says:

    yikes,these people are probably the filthiest ive seen in any country..and thats mainly because of the brain drain,the good have left jamaica,have their future generations born in places like usa,canada,and uk…those children could have been born in jam ,as the next generation of decent people as their parents ,granparents and that generation had been..yes i was at that stadium,use to be a clean well kept place..brought foreign friends with me,had no idea the stadium was left to run down,man was i did a couple generations make such a backward difference..dam..the idle workers were juss sitting arround ,asusual out there no supervision,almost time to start the event,they push the garbage under the seats,and call that cleaning,then back to chatting and hugging on each nice it would be to have 2 international std, stadiums ,operate as a business,making money and providing right in that same spot that the national stadium is right now..its easy ,investors are out there trust me..but of cource the corrupt stuff jamaica call politicians will have to take a back seat..

  15. johntowit says:

    Well I’ve just seen on a TVJ sports news where IPL manager saying to the effect – that there will be some alterations to the lay-out of the fascility. Roof covering exactly opposite the grand stand over by bleachers, more toilets to be incorporated into the bleachers stand, additional changing fascilities and drug inspection section; also the removal of the cycle track. A stop gap at best.

    Well thats a start, but I suspect all these alterations have to do with applications/ambitions to host Diamond leagues, etc. Well its OBVIOUS that the present layout of the Nat. Stad. is’nt up to internatinal standard. He did say its a work inprogress that will take between 5 and 10 years. Well that’s understandable.

    But I hope this present development does’nt hinder the future demolition of the whole stadium and be replaced with an entirely brand new structure; with the current recession and all, knowing how Jamaican authorities have a knack of drawing their feet, our hope of a brand new state of the art fascility might not be for another 15 to 20 years – if at all !!!!!

    Quite SAD !!! Sad indeed.

  16. Lorna says:

    @George – Excuse me??????!!!!!!!!

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16 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl January 31, 2013 at 6:27 pm