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National Sports Authority now into ‘limbo’ phase

FRED STURRUP
SPORTS SCOPE

Published: Jul 27, 2013

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It appears that the National Sports Authority is in a stage of uncertainty. Intended initially to be that landmark ultra organization that would take the responsibility of managing the national sporting facilities away from the ministry of sports, the sports authority has not gotten good grades at all.

Firstly, the sports authority ran into a brick wall in trying to get federations to accept its usage fees. Secondly, it is understood that fees presented to other prospective organizers of entertainment events, ran them off. Then, the first advance of funds from the government was used in part on cosmetic refurbishment and furniture for a rather lavish office, at a time when “money is” very tight. Also, the sports authority opted to build and equip some kind of a monitoring or communications facility inside of the stadium, upwards of the finish line, that is widely being considered by insiders, as a waste of the people’s money.

Also, the situation became magnified by the fact that the sports authority has not been able to put together the kind of marketing team that is capable of reaching out to the world to bring in the kind of regular business that would help greatly to offset the huge upkeep costs of the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

As a result, under the watch of Chairman Leroy Archer Jr., the national stadium has become yet another financial albatross around the necks of the Bahamian people, with similarity to the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas and the national airline Bahamasair. The electricity bill alone for the national stadium is an awesome burden for the people in an economically depressed period.

The whole scenario begs the question about the viability of the National Sports Authority, at this time. That’s a question Prime Minister Perry Christie would do well to ponder. Perhaps, the government powers and their agency, the ministry of sports, are indeed stepping back at the moment and doing some reflection. Exactly what do you do with the National Sports Authority in its present make-up?

My understanding is that no funding has been provided for quite some time now to the sports authority. Combined with the authority not having the kind of marketing push that can bring in usage fees, the entity is at a virtual standstill. The present Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) central administration inherited the sports authority and its make-up of directors, inclusive of Chairman Archer. Actually, it is doubtful whether the previous Free National Movement (FNM) Government would have been happy with the way the sports authority has operated. It seems to be a sinkhole for funding. A lot would go in with no meaningful dividends resulting. Quite frankly, the national stadium is a massive structure that is pretty to look at, but one that will dearly tax the pockets of Bahamians.

PM Christie seems very sincere in his expressions about the government’s interest to expand the country’s sports industry with quality facilities throughout the Family Islands and otherwise. Now, it could be that with the way the authority is set up, there is great difficulty to manage it and not incur a loss annually.

It could also be that Archer Jr. and company are not up to the task. I take no particular position in that regard. It is clear however that the National Sports Authority is not working out in the best interest of the Bahamian people, presently. The PM should have a full awareness of such. At Cabinet level, a long hard look should be taken at the sports authority, in its present form, in order to determine how best to go forward.

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

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