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Stadium’s official opening scheduled for February 19

The handover ceremony of the new Thomas Augustus Robinson National Stadium took place in June. At that time, Chinese officials turned over the completed state of the art facility to their Bahamian counterparts.

It was historic.

There were high expectations throughout the country that at some point in this year there would be a grand official opening with soccer or athletics featured. That has not been the case and it became clear weeks ago that an official opening would not take place in 2011.

Various works on the connecting infrastructure to the stadium are going on and the entire area that will house the multi-purpose national sports complex is taking shape rather nicely. I understand that there will be an official opening for the feature facility, the stadium, on February 19 of 2012.  Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard and his team are engaging in conversations with the Bahamas Football Association.

If the talks are fruitful, it would make sense for one of the disciplines with a competition area in the stadium to be in the mix on opening day. However, if there are no athletic events and no soccer match, the opening will be deflated somewhat.

It is still difficult to fathom why with full knowledge of the schedule the Chinese officials were adhering to ministry personnel could not get the government to keep a healthy pace with the connecting infrastructure.

So here we are with 2011 coming to a close and there really are still some uncertainties about the official opening. There must be because if everything was set, surely the announcements regarding the official opening in February would have been made by now. The sports ministry officials are not giving out any information on the opening and the view here is, that’s a signal that the plans are not all in place.

Time is of the essence though and there definitely will be an opening ceremony before general elections, which are likely to take place in May. This is an opportunity to get points with the general public. So, the opening will take place. You readers can bet on that.

Hopefully, the talks with the BFA do pan out and President Anton Sealey and his colleagues are able to save the day. I’d like to see the stadium officially opened and functioning. There is still much to be done though.

What’s the latest on the sports authority that will be the chief operator of the stadium?

What about the management team capable of meeting the challenge of such a facility?

Is there a marketing team on board yet?

This is a huge test for Maynard.

Will the minister and ministry officials indeed be able to get all partners on the same page to ensure that the official opening takes place and is a grand affair and not an embarrassment?

The answer to that question is in the not too distant future.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]).

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