JIS News

I extend a very warm welcome to everyone here today who have come from far and near to participate in this important event. Those of you from colder climes, I know, have more than one good reason to be here.
Those of us who enjoy the year-round, salubrious climate of the Caribbean, are pleased to provide you not only with a very warm welcome but also very warm weather – a courtesy I know you appreciate!
Let me express my special thanks to the international cricketing fraternity for the wise decision you have taken to place the staging Cricket World Cup 2007 in the capable hands of the home countries of the West Indies Cricket Team. You can rest assured that as far as the efficiency of the organisation of the events goes, we do not plan to drop any catches. As far as that goes, we plan to make some record-breaking scores! Whether we can match that performance on the field is another matter! That remains to be seen, but despite current trends, we are very hopeful!
Development of Western Jamaica
There is an old song entitled “It’s getting to be a habit with me”. Frankly, it is not just “getting” to be a habit. It has long become a habit with me to spend my time in the Western parishes of Jamaica – a region that here in Jamaica we simply refer to as the west. What have I been doing? Planning, consulting with the community and breaking ground or declaring open the largest number of infrastructural and investment projects in western Jamaica in our nation’s history. Their value can be counted in tens of billions of dollars.
There have been new and expanded roads and road systems, inter-parish highways, telecommunications projects, major water supply projects, sewage schemes, electrification projects, airport and seaport and cruise ship pier expansion, the western school building programme, hospital and health facility expansion and construction, housing developments. Just yesterday I broke ground at Rose Hall for yet another major tourism resort construction – a luxury condominium and spa project.
The Stadium at Greenfield
Today, I am thrilled to be involved in yet another important venture in the west, one that is really close to my heart. It combines my own legendary passion for the game of cricket and my unrepentant advocacy of regional integration.
At long last, the West Indies has been afforded the deserved recognition of its distinctive contribution to cricket by its designation as Host for the World Cup Tournament in 2007.
And to crown it all, this honour has crystallised into fulfilling a long held dream – the provision of a first class sports stadium for western Jamaica.
The stadium here at Greenfield will be a state-of-the art facility built to world-class standards.
It will have a permanent seating capacity of 10,000, with the capacity for another 15,000 temporary seats.
The project is being financed under a government-to-government loan to Jamaica from the People’s Republic of China, repayable over 20 years at an interest rate of 2% per annum. In fact, when I visited China and met with the President not so long ago, I was able to express my personal thanks to him and the people of China for making this project possible on such generous terms. The Government of China was willing to extend the loan to us based on our excellent track record of never, in our history ever failing to meet out international financial commitments.
Our Chinese partners and local contractors are working around the clock to complete the construction on time and on budget, by the target date of December next year.
A new era
For me, ladies and gentlemen, this event is more than just a groundbreaking event for a sports stadium. It heralds a new era for the citizens of the region to enjoy the world-class sport facility they deserve. Not only that.
It opens up tremendous opportunities for economic growth and social interaction for the citizens of this region through participation as sportsmen and women, as event organisers and managers, and as spectators, in a range of exciting sporting events, beginning, of course, with Cricket World Cup 2007 – all made possible by the existence of this world class facility.
Opportunities of CWC 2007
World Cup 2007 provides us with the opportunity and honour of being able to show the world once again that we are capable of successfully staging a first class sporting event. From a tourism perspective, CWC 2007 will provide a welcome fillip to continue the strong growth we are already witnessing in the tourism sector. It provides us with the opportunity to showcase for a world audience the culture, lifestyle heritage, the beauty and other assets of our region.
Cricket World Cup 2007 also presents a number of new business opportunities for Jamaican and Caribbean entrepreneurs to provide goods and services for the event as well as to create new business contacts.
JAMPRO is working with Jamaica Cricket 2007, to meet a target of 40% of the remaining procurement requirement to be sourced from Jamaica.
In the longer term, the objective is to use the event as a catalyst for enterprise development and seek to foster productive international partnerships through links made through CWC 2007. The Future of the Complex
While the Greenfield Stadium will be initially used to host the Opening Ceremony and warm-up matches for Cricket World Cup 2007, the facility will be used thereafter to host a range of events that will include traditional activities in sports as well as entertainment to attract tourists and Jamaicans alike.
A company has already been incorporated to assume ownership of the Stadium after the World Cup is over.
The Government will soon be inviting proposals for investment, development and management services required for the multi-purpose facility and adjoining site. This adjoining site consists of 79 acres of vacant land adjacent to the facility.
Our preferred option is for long-term lease that will provide for investment and the required management services for the multi-purpose facility.
The Cabinet has given approval to issue the Request for Proposal that has been prepared to interested bidders with the relevant professional, investment, development and management expertise.
We see the complex as one which could cater to a range of interests and activities not only in the field of sports, but entertainment such as musical concerts, gospel festivals, church conventions and occasions which need a capacity of this size.
The Legacy Committee of JAMPRO has been instructed to incorporate the relevant components which will emerge from the successful bid into the National Legacy Strategy.
The Value of Sport
With this new stadium, the people of Trelawny and western Jamaica can capitalize on the obvious linkages that exist between sport and tourism to:
expand the range of activities and attractions that we offer,
garner greater exposure for the island,
and increase earnings and provide employment for our people.
In recent years, our tourism marketing strategy has started to reflect the importance of this synergy, but we are still only scratching the surface of an area with tremendous potential.
It is an area that deserves primary focus in our efforts to effectively market Jamaica as the Caribbean resort that offers the best and most varied vacation experiences.
I therefore see the Trelawny Stadium as being central to our efforts, in this part of Jamaica, to maximise the benefits from sports tourism. Let us use the tremendous reputation that Jamaica has earned worldwide in the sporting arena to add to our nation’s economic prosperity.
Today, I call on our leaders in Sport and Tourism to form a Sport, Entertainment Tourism Alliance to facilitate networking toward the development of a sport tourism industry.
I think that the North Coast should take the lead in this initiative. You have:
the most experience in tourism;the most hotel rooms in the island;highways connecting the major resort towns of Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios;an international airport within close proximity;cruise ship piers within close proximity;and a modern stadium by 2007.
This groundbreaking is your opportunity to bring the tourism and sport industries together so that you can leverage the “Jamaica” brand that our tourism product and our sportsmen and sportswomen have helped to make so powerful.
I urge you to develop this Western Jamaica Sport Tourism Alliance so that you can increase your competitiveness in hosting national, regional and international sporting events.
I am confident that all the stakeholders in the sports, entertainment and tourism sectors will seize the opportunity that this stadium represents will give their full support to such an Alliance.
What we are breaking ground for today is more than a stadium; we are breaking ground for new alliances and new opportunities as we strive toward a more prosperous Jamaica.
Cricket World Cup 2007 is our immediate target, but the long-term goal is a dynamic and powerful sport tourism industry.
Preparations in Kingston
Let me also assure the ICC and the WICBC and the entire organising network for CWC 2007 that, as enthusiastic as we are about this new stadium with the opportunities it affords us for the future of western Jamaica, our plans for also include equally careful and enthusiastic preparation at our historic cricket grounds at Sabina Park in refurbishing and general preparation there and across our capital city.
You can be certain that the Kingstonians have no intention of being outdone by the west by way of the quality of the service and facilities they intend to offer facilities as hosts for CWC 2007. Work is proceeding equally well at Sabina Park.
The entire Jamaica is going to be a part of one of the most exciting and memorable events that the cricketing world has ever seen!
I should point out that a lot of the infrastructural and other development in the west which I mentioned earlier, including the construction of new hotel rooms, the upgrading and expansion of both our international airports, our new road and highway system, will all equip us to manage seamlessly the accommodation and transportation across the island for the thousands of visitors who will be here in for CWC 2007.
Conclusion
Let me once again express my thanks to everyone who has come to be with us for this important groundbreaking ceremony; let me thank again the government of the Republic of China for its part in this exciting venture; to my brothers and sisters in every area of the great game of cricket – thank you to both organizers and players for your part in the many years of pleasure and pride we have enjoyed. Thank you for bringing the people of the region in a spirit of solidarity like no other event can do . even when we despair together when our cricketing fortunes are low, we do so in solidarity with each other.
I am confident that CWC 2007 will help to ensure that cricket remains the potent force for uniting our people, unquestionably the most visible manifestation of Caribbean integration.
Let me thank everyone involved in the organizing of CWC 2007, to the Jamaica Cricket 2007 and the Chinese and local contractors for the good beginning that we are seeing here today.
I look forward to joining all of you right here in 2007. When the first ball is bowled for the warm up match between the West Indies and Kenya on Monday March 5, 2007, you bet your life I plan to be here with the fans and I will think kindly of my friends in their Cabinet meeting! In fact, I will think good thoughts about them as I lead the cheering myself as we enjoy some exciting Cricket, Lovely Cricket!
It now gives me great pleasure to break ground for the Trelawny Stadium.