Kingston (Jamaica): Flood Lights will be installed at Jamaica's famed cricket venue, Sabina Park, in time to allow night matches in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League set to begin in July. Both the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) have expressed confidence that an agreement on funding is close and that an announcement will be made soon.
The WICB and the JCA, who have been holding talks on a joint public private sector funding plan, say the installation budget is around $1.7 million.
"At this moment the JCA have been in discussion with the ministries of tourism and sports and a number of agencies that support those ministries. It (getting the lights in time) can be done and in another week or two there should be an announcement," said WICB vice-president Whycliffe Cameron. I think they (JCA) are very close to tying down the funding. It will not be totally supported by government... they are also getting private sector involved."
The CPL had announced that Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and St Lucia are the front-running territories from which they will choose franchise teams. Of those territories, Jamaica remains the only one without lighting facilities, a requirement for hosting matches in the July 29 to August 26 competition.
"The JCA is aware of the developments regarding the planned start of the CPL, and as such has subsequently redoubled and fast-tracked its efforts to have floodlights installed at our main venue Sabina Park," said Fritz Harris, Secretary of the JCA. Our main concern is to sign off on funding and to ensure that there is a capable maintenance plan that can satisfactorily take care of whatever investments are made."
Officials have been working on a business plan that involves 20 years to repay and transforming Sabina Park into a multi-purpose venue.
"We have asked for a generous repayment period of about 20 years. I'm not directly involved, but I've helped to put the whole package together. It's a very sustainable business plan put forward, so we are hoping that the (Jamaican) government may fund it, but repayments would come from the private sector and from funds generated from the Park itself," said Cameron.
"Sabina Park will be transformed from a cricket stadium to a multi-purpose facility. That's the only way things will work. It can't be that it is used only a few times per year (for cricket)."
Sabina Park was among a list of international venues renovated for the region's hosting of the 2007 ICC World Cup. However no lights were installed, and despite talks of its implementation over the years, the lack of lighting has forced the country to be overlooked for staging night matches.