Sports Minister Darryl Smith yesterday cleared the air on several issues relating to the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium and Academy, among them the fact the the T&T Cricket Board of Control will not be left out of its development plans going ahead.
“In terms of the construction and completion, for the very first time the TTCB was finally part of that process. Even though the facility has not been handed over to us yet, we have allowed the TTCB to host the very first event there—a T20 event on the 4th and 5th of May,” Smith said at a press conference called to address, among other things, the TTCB’s concern about being snubbed during the decision-making process for the setting up and running the Brian Lara Academy.
“Whereas we have housed cycling, swimming and tennis at their respective facilities, the Brian Lara Academy is different. Brian’s vision for it to be a school not just for persons from Trinidad and Tobago but also the region and internationally, to come there and live there as we develop not only players but umpires, coaches and other professionals.”
Smith also addressed the issue of a stand at the stadium being named after Indian batting star Sachin Tendulkar. He called the matter a total misunderstanding which has been blown out of proportion and somewhat premature, as the matter was still being discussed. He added that any area named after Tendukar was likely to be one of many named after different sporting personalities at the venue, but it was not a done deal yet because the details were still being finalised.
“For the first time in the history of T&T, we are going to have naming rights. However, it is not a part of our legislation so we are taking a note to Cabinet to address that.
“There will be corporate boxes, conference rooms, classrooms, gyms, training rooms; all that we do plan to cut up and sell and or honour Trinidadians, Tobagonians, regional and international icons.
“This will be done for two reasons — to honour and respect (these icons) but moreso to bring in income.”
However, Smith said he wanted to wipe the slate clean as his aim was to ensure sport in this country moves forward.
“I’m not holding any animosity. Let’s work together with Mr Lara to ensure that cricket reaches the pinnacle that it once was.”
Also at the press conference was chairman of the Urban Development Company of T&T Noel Garcia, who fended off claims by Princes Town MP Barry Padarath that the facility was unfit for usage.
In a release on Tuesday, Padarath questioned the safety and readiness of the stadium ahead of the proposed May 13 gala opening featuring teams captained by Brian Lara and Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
Yesterday, however, Garcia said: “I find the statement made by Mr Padarath to be reckless and irresponsible and I say this based on the Arun Buch report of a structural survey and assessment which was commissioned in 2012 on the Brian Lara Stadium.”
Garcia said the Arun Buch report was in fact commissioned by the previous People’s Partnership government and resulted in a document 19 volumes long giving the controversial venue a stamp of approval.
He said he expects the International Cricket Council will also approve the venue for international use by July 2017.