'It's about time' - Brown looking forward to stadium renovation
No one is happier than Major Desmon Brown that the National Stadium is set to undergo a major repair next year.
Brown, who is the general manager of Independence Park Limited, which manages the venue, said the facility has been operating below international standards for the past five years and that it was on the brink of not being able to host international events such as World Cup Qualifiers and athletics meets.
"For international events, a dedicated drug-testing area is required and right now what we have to do is use one of the changing rooms, which is not the best thing," Brown said.
"We also need proper changing rooms with ice-baths, physiotherapy rooms and we don't have that. One of the recent requirements from FIFA is that you have to have separate access to the field by players and officials, right now (it's just the) McDonald Tunnel with officials, VIPs and everybody walk through it."
He continued: "Our medical facilities for patrons are inadequate, especially in the bleachers. We don't even have enough restrooms in the bleachers. We are supposed to have a venue operating centre where we would have the Police, the fire brigade, the ministry of health and private security. All of those people are supposed to be in one room and that is where you make major decisions in terms of anything happening and we don't have one of those now."
Brown said the stadium has been allowed to host FIFA matches and IAAF athletics meets out of discretion.
"When we patch up a few things, they allow us to host these events because we don't have anywhere else," Brown said.
He alluded to an incident when the stadium almost received an international bad when Jamaica hosted Panama in a World Cup Qualifier in 2013 after crowd control issues.
"We never had a field invasion and that is why we never got punishment, but we can't continue like that," Brown said.
The renovated stadium capacity will increase to 38,000 as the velodrome (cycle track) will be removed.
"The fact that we are taking out the obsolete velodrome means that we are going to have space for more seats and this will bring people closer to the action," Brown explained.
Brown said the renovation of the stadium will be done over a three year period to facilitate the hosting of events. Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange is expecting the renovation to begin next year as the Government is in the final stage of signing off on the project.
"We have gone through the PIU (Public Investment Unit) and we are in the process of hiring a consultant who will assist with the technical aspects of the project as well as developing a business plan," Grange said. "We are speaking to the Ministry of Finance in terms of the funding and it will be done in stages."