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Bahamian sports industry, a revolutionary concept

Sports Scope
  • The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. FILE

FRED STURRUP

Published: Jul 09, 2013

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The sporting outlook for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is real good. The prospect of a properly structured National Sports Academy (NSA) is an excellent dimension. However, even before the announcement of the NSA as a priority of the Perry Christie Government, I felt there was great potential for national advancement through sports.

For a goodly number of years now, the country has been poised for a full-blown sports industry. Needless to say, subsequent central administrations failed to orchestrate a situation whereby the sports commodity was maximized. An opinion I have expressed before is that we are blessed with a national sports scenario ripe for some innovative happenings that could establish an industry that will expand and be bountiful in the very near future.

Badly mishandled thus far is the anchor project, the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. It seems as though there is a dependency on events to cover the high cost of operating the facility. Yet, there are absolutely no visible signs of the kind of marketing vehicle needed to bring in the required amount of business.

In this place previously, the point has been made about the stadium as a product that could be marketed to generate a significant amount of funds. A viable marketing program would result in general revenue growth to the point whereby the stadium would be self-sufficient in a relatively short time. A credible marketing team should be put in place with the directive to target major universities/colleges throughout North America and Europe. They should be enticed with specially attractive packages for accommodations and training in soccer and track and field. I see none of this happening.

The stadium has been the host facility for the Tottenham Hotspur/Jamaican Reggae Boys soccer exhibition, CARIFTA Games 2013 and the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational (CBBI) thus far. The usage fees for the CARIFTA Games and the CBBI were reportedly waived by the government. There was probably some infusion of funds for the soccer exhibition. However, it appears certain that right out of the box, we’re going down the road of “major subsidy” once again. The facility is already a burden on the taxpayers. This could end up being another situation such as Bahamasair and the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas.

It doesn’t have to be. The stadium has strong marketing potential. I call upon Prime Minister Perry Christie and his cabinet to ensure this matter is attended to. I don’t know what funding is available, but a sound marketing program must be put in place. This is the only way the project will make sense. If not, it will be just there, situated, in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center as an albatross around the necks of the Bahamian people.

We have what it takes to propel the sports industry. The stadium is the centerpiece. I’m just offering food for thought.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)


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