Sports

Andre Rodgers stadium to cost an additional $31 million

A national sports project that is nearly six years in the making is said to cost the government of The Bahamas another $31 million for completion.

The initial completion date of the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Complex was the end of 2017, and it was set to initially cost $21 million of Bahamian taxpayers money. Now, the total has ballooned to nearly three times as much – costing the Bahamian people approximately $60 million.

Minister of Public Works and Utilities Alfred Sears said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that contractual agreements that were in place weren’t honored, and, consequently, work on the project ceased. He said the stadium project stalled and the edifice had been idle and inoperable for four and a half years. He said that, along with rising costs of materials and labor and the implementation and rise of Value Added Tax (VAT), is a primary reason for the additional expenditure, but assured the public that it should be completed by December 2022.

Leader of the Opposition Michael Pintard said, in actuality, work on the stadium was paused prior to the 2017 General Elections. Also, he said irregularities that would have been in place as it relates to the design and interior of the stadium would have been one of the primary reasons for the slow movement of construction. Also, the arrival of COVID-19 in the country had an effect, he said.

“There have been a number of complications as it relates to the construction of the stadium,” said Pintard. “There had to be changes in the design of the plan for the stadium because there were fundamental things missing from original plans. Also, in consultation with our stakeholders, with the baseball federation, there was an issue as it relates to the size of the stadium. The way the stadium was laid out, it would have caused a problem for major league teams. It would have been problematic for them to utilize the facility. On the orientation of the stadium, there were concerns about the size of various areas of the stadium, including the dressing rooms. Also, people were owed funds and we had to satisfy that – remedy their payment.

“At the end of the day, we support the ‘Sports in Paradise’ agenda. It’s a transformative way of putting heads in beds and bringing sports events to The Bahamas. We support our athletes. Sports has multiple benefits – producing professionals, building camaraderie, instilling discipline and character development, providing education, and also business opportunities. We certainly support the advancement of our young baseball players and athletes in general.”

Upon completion, the stadium is expected to be up to both Major League Baseball (MLB) and World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) standards.

During a tour of the stadium project last summer, it was revealed that the venue was 70 to 80 percent completed. Project Manager and architect for the stadium Mike Foster said at the time that the remaining works of the stadium would cover external areas such as the field, parking area and landscaping and, to date, those areas still have not been completed.

Woslee Construction remains the lead contractor of the stadium project despite citing months of non-payment in early 2017. The National Sports Authority (NSA) will be charged with the day-to-day running of the facility, and the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) will be the primary tenant looking to attract collegiate and professional teams to The Bahamas to utilize the facility in fundraising competitions and camps.

When completed, the stadium is expected to feature a main MLB-approved field, two supporting fields, a main grandstand, a general seating area, international standard dugouts and the latest in technology in digital scoreboards and sound systems. The main stadium was being built to accommodate up to 4,000 fans.

A statue of Bahamian sporting legend the late Andre Rodgers is set to be placed at the entrance of the stadium.

Since this latest wave of Bahamian baseball talent began signing professional contracts in 2015, there has been nearly three dozen young Bahamian baseball players inking deals with professional teams. A couple of them, Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm Jr. and Lucius Fox Jr., progressed to the majors. Chisholm is a starting infielder with the Miami Marlins, and Fox was called up for a day with the Kansas City Royals before being reassigned to a minor league club.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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