ARG to get million-dollar facelift
St John’s, Antigua, CMC – Minister of Sport, Senator Winston Williams, announced on Wednesday that the Government intends to spend around US $6 million to renovate the famous Antigua Recreation Ground.
The sports facility which overlooks the hustle and bustle of the downtown area of the capital has been the primary has been the site of a number of glorious sporting achievements in the history of the island.
Brian Lara twice broke the world record for the highest individual score at the ARG, son-of-the-soil hit one of the fastest Test hundreds there, and the island’s football has also shared in the rich heritage.
“We have written to the Ministry of Works,” said on a morning TV programme. “The Ministry of Works is responsible for all matters relating to public properties.
“They have not responded to us as yet, we will be writing to them again. As a matter of a fact, I have had some telephone discussions with the Minister responsible (and) clearly the ARG needs to be looked at.
“It is a serious financial (undertaking). We are talking about roughly, if we were to give preliminary estimates, 10 to 15 million East Caribbean dollars.”
The ARG was condemned by FIFA during their last inspection prior to the start of World Cup qualifying in the Caribbean last year.
It has now been overtaken by the Vivian Richards Stadium as the major venue for cricket and the Sticky Wicket Stadium, formerly the Stanford Cricket Ground, has hosted major international matches in recent times.
Williams said there was much work to be completed to bring the ARG back to code and attract major sports events there again.
“You are going to have to remove the double-decker stands,” he said. “It is no longer and can no longer continue the way it had. We have been doing a lot of work, but we need to look at it.
“The schoolboys’ area, where those stands were taken out for the World Cup, the main stands, the steel frames need to be replaced. They have corroded.”
He added: “We have to look at the whole question of how the shops are situated underneath, especially under the double-decker.
“FIFA would not sanction a game there with the wood. We want to preserve our local way of life, but we have to come into play with what happens internationally.”
FIFA said in its inspection report that the ARG was not up to international standards mainly due to the fact that some stands were partly constructed with wood and also that a number of shops are positioned under the wooden stands which pose a potential fire hazard.