Pintard expresses uncertainty regarding completion of national stadium
Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Michael Pintard has addressed the issue of the $21 million Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium that was initially slated to be completed this year. However, work on the project has stalled for over a year.
The stadium was set to be constructed to Major league Baseball (MLB) standards. Pintard gave an update on the project, and the government’s plans with the gigantic structure opposite the Government High School (GHS) inside the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.
“The facts are, prior to the change in government the baseball stadium was on pause. The work had discontinued,” Pintard said.
Pintard said his ministry has worked diligently, asking for additional funds to pay outstanding bills, since taking office in May of 2017. The Cabinet approved additional funds of close to $3 million for the completion of the project. Pintard said the outstanding bills were settled, and mentioned that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis wants to see the stadium completed.
“I asked the prime minister to give us an opportunity to consider whether or not we wish to allocate the remaining funds for the completion of the building out of that facility, or, should we pause for a moment, listen to the stakeholders in the baseball community, to also explore other options. In that regard, we then commissioned a quick study to be done which has been done by the National Sports Authority (NSA) along with this ministry and with an international consultant. What we were seeking to find out is if it made sense to continue with option one which is to continue to build at that particular facility, which in our estimation, would cost in excess of $25 million to complete – $12 million already in the ground. Or, if we would look to go back to the original location that was recommended and create a facility (and) put the surrounding fields in that particular location, use the additional capital which we would have used on the original site which would be a more expensive proposition, and build facilities elsewhere in The Bahamas,” Pintard said.
The original location that Pintard spoke about is west of the Government High School. That location will not be able to seat 4,500 persons like the current location but rather 2,500. Pintard reiterated that fact that baseball is extremely important to The Bahamas as there is no less than 23 persons playing in the pipelines of Major league Baseball.
If option two, build in the original location, is selected, Pintard said the present site will be transformed into a multi-purpose facility. The present location poses a difficulty in the way it is aligned and there is the absence of a proper information technology (IT) structure.
Pintard said: “The business plan is ready and the only item missing from the plan is looking at local baseball events and see what potential revenue can be generated from them. We believe that in many ways that is the smaller portion of the revenue. Most of that revenue is likely to come from hosting a series of international events and our primary focus is collegiate as opposed to professional. Another paper will go to Cabinet to get a collective input of our colleagues.”
The minister said the presentation will go before Cabinet shortly after his ministry has gotten input from baseball stakeholders. He also made note that the present figures do not include IT and the surrounding fields. He said those are two elements that they would have to put in upon completion of the facility.
“The time frame is over the course of the next two months. The Cabinet paper would be in and I am confident we’ll get approval to go with one of those options. We’re going to move fairly quickly on this,” said Pintard.
The timeline for the existing structure to be completed will be 12 months. If the other option is chosen, Pintard said he would need guidance in order to give a timeline.