Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture Mario Bowleg is hoping to get The Bahamas to return as host of the World Athletics (WA) World Relays event.
The event was hosted elsewhere after it was held at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in New Providence in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Bowleg said they will be looking at doing all they can to get it back in The Bahamas and hopes to grow sports tourism.
“We are going to do all we can to make sure we get the World Athletics back here,” Bowleg said.
“With reference to sports tourism, I have been involved with that tremendously through the game of basketball and I believe that we can grow sports tourism not only through the sports of basketball but also baseball, volleyball and softball. The idea again is to try and build the necessary facilities on the various island so we can not only be Nassau-centric but also push sports in the various islands that will also increase tourism in those islands.”
The latest edition of the event was held in early May of this year at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow, Poland. Prior to that, the World Relays was moved to Yokohama, Japan in 2019. The move came about after the Bahamian government pulled out of hosting it, citing too large of a price tag. Initially, five million dollars was budgeted, but the country decided that the price tag was too hefty at that time and withdrew its host status 10 months prior to the start of the relays.
One of the hot topics in the sports community, especially baseball, is when will the Andre Rodgers National Stadium be completed. Bowleg said that it is his ministry’s desire to have it finished.
“We have not sat in office as yet to see what type of funding we got,” he said.
“I do not know what is left to finish of the baseball stadium so once I got the opportunity to analyze the situation, I am sure it is our desire to get it finish as quick as possible.”
The stadium was to be finished in December 2020. At the latest update over a year ago, the stadium was at 70-80 percent completed.
Work began on the stadium, located opposite Government High School, in 2016 and was set to initially cost $21 million. It was set to be completed by the end of 2017. However, according to the former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle, during her portion of the 2020-2021 National Budget debate in June 2020, the cost of the project to that date was $27,486,658. She also said that the proposed completion date, notwithstanding unprecedented times, is December 2020 – clearly that date was not met.
Woslee Construction is the lead contractor.
Work on the stadium came to a halt in the first quarter of 2017 after Woslee Construction cited months of non-payment. Prior to the stoppage in 2017, work was progressing swiftly. Back in 2018, work resumed in late July/early August. It then stalled when the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020 but work has resumed.
The stadium is said to be up to both Major League Baseball (MLB) and World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) standards.
The Babe Ruth Baseball Caribbean Region Commissioner Greg Burrows already has plans to bring the first ever Babe Ruth Caribbean Region Caribbean Championships to The Bahamas, set to be played at the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium from July 7-11, 2022.