Belize City’s residents continue to chafe at being denied access to several of the popular sporting facilities which have been closed for renovation. The news tonightis that the MCC Grounds and Marion Jones Sporting Complex are partially open and in use however there are still major developments to be done to both facilities. Sports Minister Herman Longsworth says that in the case of the MCC, plans will be moved into high gear to install powerful floodlights and relay the pitch, which had been giving some problems.
Herman Longsworth – Minister of State for Youth and Sports
“MCC, we were waiting on a few competitions that were happening to finish so we can do the excavations for the lighting. The wiring goes underground and we did not want to offset the competitions that were happening. I believe that those should be about finished now, so we are looking to start the excavations and erect the light poles for the MCC. That is basically what we will get done now. We are going to have beautiful lights. Aside from the FFB stadium in Belmopan, I don’t think there will be any facility in Belize that will be as well lit as the MCC after we are finished. In the near future we will certainly have some, but not yet.
“By when is the lighting going to be finished?”
“Probably a month or so. The grass on the field in certain areas has been giving us some issues. We have some people from the Ministry of Agriculture in, working with the National Sports Council, so I am hoping that the grass will come in with time.”
According to Longsworth the Ministry of Agriculture explained that the underlying soil had chemicals in it that is not helping the grass to grow through the topsoil; the Ministry has introduced its own chemicals for which the Ministry of Sports pays and this has been working. There are no additional expenses, the Minister said, as the Sports’ Council personnel are being used for the work. The excavations for the light installations are on the outside of the playing pitch and should not affect any ongoing competitions. The Marion Jones’ athletics track is open but there are delays to the opening of the football field at the facility. Minister Longsworth updates on this and plans for the construction of an enclosed facility for basketball on the grounds.
“In terms of the Marion Jones facility, we are there, pretty much in terms of being able to use it. It has been used before by Love Fm for their Band Fest. it went well. We filled the seats to capacity. It’s not game play but the field is pretty much read. I believe in the second week in June, we will be having a signing ceremony at the Marion Jones, for the commencement of works for the building that I have been speaking of so often for an enclosed activity for basketball, volleyball, those sorts of things. Coupled with that is going to be the lights for the football field in that facility; the FIFA standard lights. All this is a donation from Mexico. We are there now and we are expecting that the signing ceremony will happen the second week of June. The process will go forward were that is concerned, but the facility is ready to be used. Athletics are using it. The football facility won’t be used until we have the lights.
Contracts for the two Civic Centers on Central American Boulevard and in the Chetumal Street-Lake Independence Boulevard are both out to tender. The first is a Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) initiative funded by the Government, while the latter is funded by the Caribbean Development Bank. The Minister said he welcomed the planned installation of an artificial football pitch developed by local entrepreneurs in Independence this coming weekend. Notably absent from the Minister’s plans is Berger Field, located on Vernon Street in his constituency, which had been scheduled for redevelopment but ran into various bureaucratic snags.