On Monday, February 13, someone light-heartedly asked, “Were there any murders last night?” It was the day after the almost 17-hour Panorama semi-finals competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah,...
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Come Carnival Tuesday, the main court of the Jean Pierre Complex, Port-of-Spain ,will be transformed into “the Socadrome,” the venue for the country’s newest Carnival Parade of the Bands showplace. This comes in the wake of much discussion to alleviate congestion along the traditional parade route to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. The Socadrome model is expected to initially consist of four large masquerade bands—Tribe, Bliss, Harts and Yuma—but might be expanded in the future.
An official of the implementation arm of the Ministry of Sport said on Thursday: “Right now we are in the midst of finalising contracts. We were approached since October with the concept and idea. This is one of those events that would bring minimum risks to the stadium’s infrastructure, and it represents added revenue for us. The break down and dismantling of its temporary infrastructure must be done within a week after Carnival.”
Dean Ackin, leader of Tribe, said: “The impetus for this idea really originally came from David Lopez, president of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA). He came up with a good idea to explore an alternative route for non-competing bands. “We found it to be a good idea, so this year, when the proposal to reverse the route was rejected, and the congestion problem remained stuck at square one, a couple of the large bands decided to explore the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium and Jean Pierre Complex as a venue.”
The main reason, he explained, was that “drawing thousands of masqueraders away from the Savannah stage in the morning period of Carnival Tuesday would significantly reduce the congestion and gridlock that masqueraders have experienced for the last two decades. “What this also does is that it now gives priority to the competing bands to access the Savannah, the main competition venue.”
Ackin added: “At the Socadrome we are creating the Savannah experience for the participating bands. Because it is the first year, we want to have a manageable amount of bands going to the stadium. We are trying to be part of a solution to a serious problem.
“On Carnival Tuesday, 60 mas bands try to cross that Savannah stage in eight hours, an exercise that would take 25 hours. By removing these huge bands, there’ll be considerably more space for bands wanting to compete in the Band of the Year competition to cross the Savannah stage and enjoy their mas.”
NCBA not in favour
Lopez said his organisation is not in support of a separate venue for mas. He explained, “The NCBA supported an extension of the route. “However, the NCBA never supported a separate venue and we will definitely not be supporting a separate venue.”
In a conference phone interview Thursday, with NCBA Parade of the Bands committee head Sam Lewis present, Lopez added, “For the past five years, the NCBA, through the its subcommittee (the Parade of the Bands committee), has been lobbying for an extension of the parade route and indicated that the non-competing bands, who don’t have a desire to compete in the competition, should have their own route.
“This was rejected by the police for a number reasons, the main one being that they did not have the necessary manpower to control the extended route.” Lopez added that again in 2014, there was a request for an extension of the route and a reversal of the direction of the route to help ease the congestion. But this again was rejected.
The new route
The four bands using the alternative route and venue are not expected to affect the traditional, official parade of bands along Ariapita Avenue.
•From the starting point they will go along St Clair Avenue to Damien Street
•South along Damien Street to Taylor Street to Maraval Parkway
•South to enter the stadium through the western Castro gate.
•From the stadium and complex through the east gate, then north on Hamilton and O’Connor Streets onto Ariapita Avenue.”