The impressive Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba is set to officially open in May of this year, according to Minister of Sport Darryl Smith.
Smith led the media on a tour of the facility yesterday and the stadium looks in “tip top” condition. The impressive facility which has been used as a political tool for many years is finally going to open for business in May and this prompted Smith to remark: “Was this so difficult?” In obvious reference to the 10-year delay in opening the facility.
Originally this facility was due to be completed in 2007 to host warm-up games for the World Cup that was staged in the Caribbean. The construction was stopped by the Patrick Manning administration after it was clear it would not have been ready for the 2007 event.
Manning lost the subsequent general elections and the facility was ignored under the People’s Partnership government.
Smith said: “We have lost a generation because of the politics that has been played out with this stadium. Today we all feel a sense of pride as we see clips of Brian Lara breaking the world record, imagine how many records and special moments we could have had at this venue in the last 10 years.
“When the PNM came into power we promised to get this facility completed and under my watch, I have done that and well within budget. We set aside $90M for the renovation and completion and we have delivered at a cost of $86, 356,723,08. This stadium was 90 per cent complete but after being ignored it deteriorated and we had to spend the sum I called to finish it.”
Smith said this was phase one of the project and he was meeting with cabinet to get approval to finish the next phase which was the Brian Lara Academy.
“Remember initially this was to be called the Brian Lara Academy however we have had a slight change with the Stadium being completed first and now we move on to the Academy. Brian Lara has been integrally involved in advising what is best and we were looking to house young cricketers here in camps from UTT but he wanted that changed, as he wanted primary schools cricketers involved and this is what we are going to do,” he said.
The T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) has been working closely with the government on this project and very soon consultant Manohar Ramsaran the former minister of Sport, will communicate with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to get their approval for the venue.
Then and only then, the facility will be able to host international matches.
As far as the popular Caribbean Premier League (CPL) was concerned, minister Smith said: “We would love to have the CPL here but it is all up to the ground be totally ready for that level of cricket. Everything is up to world standard here, the only thing is that the pitch needs some work and this will be done right away to get it up to the standard where we want it to be.”
Up until the wee hours of the morning yesterday Pooran and Amzad Ogeer Maintenance was working to make the site top notch and they came in for high praise from Udecott officials.