`We defied all the odds' - Jagdeo
Some 50,000 world cup tickets were sold By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 12, 2007

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Some 50,000 tickets were sold, with substantial returns, for the six Super Eight matches in the Guyana leg of the ICC CWC 2007 tournament from March 28 to April 9, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced yesterday.

And while no decisions have been taken as yet, a new management formula is being looked at for the Guyana National Stadium at Providence. Additional facilities at the stadium are likely to include lighting for playing cricket at night and a whole range of activities, which might include a 20/20 match in the near future.

It is intended that the stadium would be used to the maximum, Jagdeo told the media at a press conference held at the Office of the President. This would include football matches, concerts and church activities with special protection for the cricket pitches.

Guyana would also be putting in its bid to host the 2010 ICC Championship Trophy matches and the organisers "cannot use rain", non-attendance at cricket matches or poor security to exclude Guyana from being among the three or four Caribbean venues to host matches. "We are going to fight tooth and nail to get some matches," he said.

The President did not say what was the total revenue gained from ticketing, but Guyana is expected to earn 90% of the ticket sales with 10% going to the ICC- CWC.

Thanking all those involved in making the world sporting event a success, including the Local Organ-ising Committee, security forces, medical personnel, volunteers, opposition political parties, the Guyanese people, and the media, he said the reports in some sections of the media caused concern while others were "terribly patriotic."

Jagdeo, who was in the company of Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony, and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Local Organising Committee (LOC) Karan Singh, said he called the press conference because of numerous requests for interviews on the matches which were just held in Guyana.

Noting that there were criticisms, but not referring to any specifically, Jagdeo said that unlike some other regional governments, his government sought to explain its position rather than to shift the blame on the regional body.

He said the issue of costs was the source of many debates between the LOC and the ICC-CWC and on many occasions the Guyana LOC prevailed.

The government was still unhappy about the ICC CWC West Indies Inc 2007 invoking one clause of the Host Venue Agreement and stating that it had lost confidence in the LOC, Jagdeo said. Noting that the report found its way into the media, he said the successful staging of the event at the stadium was not as a result of action being taken by the ICC CWC West Indies Inc 2007 but as a result of the level of organization at the local level. "They didn't do that. We did it," he said.

He reiterated that Guyana would not have been able to successfully host the matches at the Georgetown Cricket Club Ground at Bourda because of congestion in and around the ground, fire hazards, few entrances and exits, the absence of a practice pitch, and a poor drainage system.

It was better to build a completely new facility that would allow Guyana to continue to host international cricket matches for another hundred years or more, he said, noting that the excuse of Guyana being unable to host matches because of poor drainage is no longer an excuse.

Jagdeo said the drainage system at Providence featured prominently around the world when a match was played shortly after a heavy downpour. The television coverage given to Guyana, he said, cannot be quantified in monetary terms. "We were on show for several days," he said.

The legacy that the CWC 2007 matches have left here, he said, includes the impact on the local, regional and international levels for the event, training of security to deal with crowd control and terrorism among other areas, as well as on service providers including the taxi drivers and volunteers.

The legacy also includes growth in infrastructure and the impetus to invest in the travel and hospitality industries with the types of concessions that were granted. He said even though people might not have been able to make back the money they invested during the cricket, they have laid down the infrastructure which would allow Guyana to bid to host other international events.

He recalled the struggle Guyana had to host the Rio Group Summit because of inadequate accommodation initially. He noted that Guyana would be hosting the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, involving 55 countries, in September and would now be able to comfortably accommodate all the delegates because of the hotel accommodation now in place as a result of hosting the CWC 2007. The infrastructure left would be an "excellent boost" for tourism, too.

Bed and Breakfast

While few home providers would have benefited from the Bed and Breakfast programme, he said Guyana did not count on India and Pakistan being bowled out of the game in the preliminary round. India alone would have needed accommodation for some 2,000 cricket fans. "We lost out when the big teams exited," he said.

Guyana might not have had the number of spectators projected coming to its shores, Jagdeo said, but he added that some host venues pushed their prices to the point where it became unaffordable and some big companies pulled out. He cited one as the US television network, CNN. He gave the example of a hotel room for the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport being priced at US$500 for the opening ceremony in Jamaica. "People could not find hotels at a reasonable price," he said.

Noting that the price of tickets was a source of concern for many, he said there were countries that were arguing for higher prices for tickets while Guyana argued for lower prices. With a decision taken, the prices were common to all the host venues.

Even though Guyana's per capita GDP was much lower than that of other host venues, he noted, Guyana "had a good showing at all the matches." The government also provided tickets for hundreds of students from various parts of the country to see the matches. Some of the funds generated from the sale of tickets might go towards the hosting of a 20/20 game, he said.

On the issue of the sunset legislation, Jagdeo said some features, related mainly to security, would be retained.

Jagdeo said the government was still to decide on the management of the stadium and what would be the best way to go about this; among the areas that must be agreed on are whether there would be an agreement with the Guyana Cricket Board on hosting international matches; whether there would be a venue agreement with the users of the facility; and who would get the proceeds. The facility would be run in such a way that it would generate its own maintenance revenue with a small subsidy from the government.

Speaking about Guyana's bid to host some matches in the ICC 2010 Champions Trophy, Jagdeo said, Guyana unlike some other venues had many, if not the most challenges to surmount. This included the fact that the country started out without a stadium and constructed one in a cane field and very little hotel accommodation. Noting the uncertainties about Guyana being able to host the matches, he recalled one Jamaican politician stating that Jamaica was prepared to take Guyana's matches. "We defied all the odds," he said.