$10M FIFA Stadium To Boost Sports Tourism

Ahreefa Bacchus, Journalist
January 11, 2019 2:22 pm AST
Photo Credit: Provided
The Development of the FIFA Football Stadium in Greenland, East End, will be a catalyst for the development of sports tourism in the BVI, according to the Government.

Earlier today, January 11, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the state-of-the-art facility, the important role that this stadium will play in helping to diversify the economy was emphasised.

The overall project commenced five years ago, and is expected to be completed in six months. When completed, the stadium and the surrounding complementary infrastructure will rack up a bill of $10 million, and is as a result of a public/private partnership.

It will feature a regulation-sized football field and a 400 meter track, and the multi-purpose stadium will seat 2,500 and provide options for hosting different types of events.

Providing some insight into the project’s history, Premier and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dr. D. Orlando Smith said, “This is a partnership of mutual benefit, where the Government of the Virgin Islands has leased the crown land to the East End/Long Look Sports Centre for the purpose of developing this facility, and the BVI Football Association, through their alliance with FIFA, will provide the project funding.”

“The facility is to be an impressive one and the benefits are many, both economically and socially. The commencement of this project will create employment for contractors, heavy equipment operators and labourers,” the Premier explained.

According to the Premier, “All these facets increase the potential for growth in the area of sports tourism and the trickledown effect will have its way to hotels, restaurants, taxi operators and retailers of all sorts.”

These sentiments were shared by Minister of Natural Resources and Labour and Seventh District Representative, Hon. Kedrick Pickering who said, “The long term goal here is to ensure that this will bring economic activity to the community.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn, who has oversight of Sport, said that the stadium is “important for the development of the sport,” while aiding in the growth of the economy.

“Part of the plan of Government is to diversify the economy and there are different ways that we will have to do that, particularly in light of what is happening in financial services, and certainly sports tourism is one of those areas. This is going to be perhaps the biggest mark, or biggest step that we will take in that drive towards diversification of the economy through sports tourism and I’m so pleased that it’s happening,” he told those gathered at the simple groundbreaking ceremony.

When the facility is completed, he is optimistic with the opportunities that it provides the territory in terms of earnings.

“You will see matches coming here. I learnt as well that as part of this, when we’re qualifying for the world cup, that with the stadium here, the home team will be entitled to at least one home game which right away will bring a number of persons into the territory that will benefit hotels in the immediate area,” he related.

The Education Minister praised the District Eight Representative, Hon. Marlon Penn, who he said played a vital role in getting the project to the stage that it is currently at.

Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Hon. Penn, who was also present disclosed, “This project has been a labour of love for me and the people of this community. A partnership with the BVI Football Association, a partnership with the community.”

He said it represents a “turning point for us in terms of the diversification efforts…in terms of sports tourism.”

“This will be the mecca of sports tourism in the BVI. The plans that we have beyond this are tremendous,” Hon. Penn declared, adding, “We took unproductive land and created an oasis within the middle of Greenland and Long Look.”

He continued by stating, “The opportunity is ripe for us in my community and the BVI community to benefit directly from this development. We see the potential for businesses to be sprung up, the hotels, the restaurants, the Air BnB space."

Hon. Penn said that, there are tremendous opportunities for the BVI with the development, "so we need to really get the people onboard, get them knowledgeable on what is going to be coming up and make sure that they’re going to be prepared to benefit from these opportunities.”
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