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TTCB welcomes stadium completion
T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) has welcomed the decision by the Government to complete the construction of the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, near San Fernando. When it is completed, hopefully next year, president of the TTCB Azim Bassarath is optimistic that the pledge to hand over management of the facility to the national cricket organisation is fulfilled. Bassarath’s positive outlook was fuelled by recent comments on the unfinished stadium by Minister of Housing Roodal Moonilal. Moonilal said on Tuesday that no work would be done on the stadium until the 2014-2015 budget is delivered in September.
“We are happy to hear that an estimated $190 million will be needed to complete the Brian Lara Stadium and we are counting on the minister to keep his promise to bring a close to this ongoing saga,” said Bassarath. Moonilal was at the time speaking to reporters after the launch of the newly-constructed Debe to Hermitage Road in Hermitage Village, south Trinidad.
“We have not estimated the amount for repairs, we are doing an estimate for rehabilitation work at this time. We are hoping with the next budget to get some funds to meet and treat with that. We have always said that we will finish it, it’s just that resources must be available,” said Moonilal. “We want to compliment the Government on placing focus on having this important project completed and handing over to the public of T&T. This is a move in the right direction,” said Bassarath.
Moonilal stated the intention to complete the cricket academy and have competitive matches taking place at the facility by next year. The stadium, which forms part of a multi-sporting complex consisting of aquatic facilities and an indoor basketball court, was initially estimated to cost some $850 million, but it has already exceeded more than one billion dollars. Bassarath added that the cricketing constituency needs to have the Brian Lara Stadium, and the TTCB will insure that it is put to the best use by the national cricketers. He said that the limited facilities at the National Cricket Centre at Balmain cannot realistically cope with the demands of several national teams whose training sessions are scheduled there. Bassarath stated: “We have the Under-15, Under-17, Under-19 teams in addition to the women’s Under-19 and senior teams training and practising for regional competitions which will all be played in July-August. This means that during June, the cricket board faces a logistical nightmare to have everything running smoothly.”
The project has been the subject of a Government appointed commission of enquiry amid claims of corruption and also the subject of a lawsuit filed against Calder Hart, former executive chairman of Urban Development Corporation of T&T (UDECOTT), the state company which commissioned the stadium. And earlier this week it was reported that thieves had broken into the facility and dismantled the electrical system and other fittings. It was also reported that several seats were also removed from the compound and windows were smashed. But Udecott communications manager Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms, denied the reports. She said on Monday that a timeline to completion had not yet been identified. “The cost to completion will be dependent on the scope of works and any remedial works deemed necessary,” she said.