World cup cricket 2007
India pledges US$26M to World Cup stadium
Stabroek News
January 20, 2004

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Guyana's moves to host part of the 2007 World Cup Cricket are a step closer with a commitment by the Indian government to contribute some US$26 million towards the building of a world-class stadium.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, just back from India, said that country's government has agreed to contribute US$6 million towards the financing of a multi-purpose stadium and also offered Guyana a soft loan amounting to about US$20 million.

This was President Jagdeo's second visit to India and during his first, in August 2003, he had requested assistance to build the stadium and the government of India had indicated its willingess to consider a proposal.

The 2007 World Cup Cricket is expected to be hosted by the Caribbean and if all preparations are made Guyana will be involved. The site identified for the stadium is Providence, East Bank Demerara.

A release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said that the stringent deadlines to construct the facility were communicated to the Indian government by the President and they agreed to work assiduously.

The release stated that in a television interview, which was expected to be aired last evening, President Jagdeo said construction of the stadium would start later this year.

"I came back with the assurance from the Prime Minister and President of India that the cricket stadium will be built. That they would give us a grant of US$6 million and a soft loan to cover the rest of the stadium which would be as much as US$20 million," the release quoted the president as saying.

He said that Guyana will bid to host the 2007 games later this year and he has to attach his signature to the bid document, guaranteeing that Guyana will be ready by the stipulated time line to host the cricket competition.

"That would have certain implications for Guyana. It would expose the country. If we are not ready, the country could have a liability exceeding US$50 million and I am required to put my signature to the guarantees. It means that I have to me sure, as President of this country, that we are ready and the key thing to being ready is to have the stadium in place. There are other things that we have to do but that can be done through national resources."

The GINA release said that government has not ruled out the option of private financing as opportunities still remain for private investment, and there would be many other arrangements to be made in addition to the new stadium.

According to the release the new stadium, would cater for cricket, football, athletics and concerts, among other activities. President Jagdeo said that the private investors could consider the options to build a complex and shopping mall nearby along with a housing scheme for accommodation.

He repeatedly noted that hosting the world cup is truly a national effort and requires several facilities, including accommodation, the stadium, developing taxi services, a liaison component and ensuring that Guyana's tourism potential is fully showcased.

He noted that government is hoping with all interested groups to make the stadium a reality and the hosting of the world cup in Guyana a possibility.

A broad-based World Cup Cricket Committee (WCCC) led by Norman McLean -now disbanded had viewed the world cup project as one with the potential to give the economy a much-needed infusion as not only would it involve the construction of a 20,000-capacity stadium, but would see investments in housing, transportation and the tourism and hospitality sectors.

When Stabroek News contacted McLean last evening he said he knew nothing about the new development but those involved will have to see how the new stadium can be constructed with the US$26 million.

In an earlier interview with this newspaper McLean had said he felt it was a "doable" project as the stadium will take 32 months to construct and time was on Guyana's side.

"This has to be seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Guyana. Our capital Georgetown must again take pride of place in the Caribbean as the Garden City. This will be 'Project Guyana'. Its impact could be tremendous on our economy, environment and people. We hope we can remove the negatives and highlight the positives and create an atmosphere to develop and market Guyana," the WCCC had said in its revised concept paper to the government on hosting the 2007 event.

As the WCCC notes, it is not just about a stadium. There will be need to house the thousands of fans flocking Guyana for the event as well as to feed and entertain them.

The WCCC had recommended that much like the Festival City coming out of Carifesta in the seventies, 400 to 500 houses should be built in a `World Cup Cricket Village' to be sold to Guyanese after the event to reduce the cost of the development. The committee had suggested that either the National Insurance Scheme or the commercial banks get involved in this housing project and redeem their investment through mortgages.

The WCCC had set out to form various committees to get the US$30 million to $35 million task underway. McLean yesterday said that the sum was just an estimation and nothing solid.

However, when two Indian architects came to Guyana to unveil the plans for the stadium, the coordinators of the visit did not meet the WCCC and a miffed McLean resigned, advising the Sports Minister, Gail Teixeira, that the committee should be disbanded and a board set up to get the project going.

"I do not believe the treatment meted to me was good. I thought I was treated discourteously. The people came in and had a big public showing to which I was invited but I was never introduced to them. I would have thought that the first person to be met in that visit would have been the chairman and the committee but they never met us, not once," McLean had said.

McLean remains a member of the bid committee for the government. The other members are the minister, and Chetram Singh, head of the cricket board.