Sabina Park lights up on historic night

Jamaica Observer article.

Kingston, Jamaica - Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was among hundreds in attendance at Sabina Park late Sunday evening to witness the first public powering-on of the newly installed floodlights at the venue.

Several minutes before the clock hit 8:00 pm, during the ceremony to commission the lights at the world-famous ground, the prime minister gave the nod by declaring “Let us now have light,” and within mere seconds, all four towers lit up brightly.

The long-awaited installation of lights will allow for, among other things, night cricket at Sabina Park.

Considerable controversy has surrounded the absence of lights at the ground, particularly since the country spent over US$100 million for its part in the region’s hosting of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

The lighting project, powered by a US$2.1-million grant from the government of India and a further US$600,000 contribution from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), began in early April and was wrapped up by the end of July.

The state-run Urban Development Corporation (UDC) managed the operation, while the FosRich Group of Companies was the contractor. FosRich is linked with Philips Lighting, an international firm with substantial ties in Europe, Asia and South America.

JCA president Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven, who thanked sponsors Digicel, Foska Oats and Busta soft drinks for throwing in a helping hand “at late notice”, said the major focus for stakeholders is to ensure that the upgraded Sabina Park can attract significantly greater revenue.

“The only way we can justify this... is if the park is used, not only for cricket, but for other events...for shows, for conventions and other activities,” he told those present at the venue.

Natalie Neita-Headley, the minister with responsibility for sport, hailed the pioneering role of Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) board director Dr Akshai Mansingh, who aided in clearing the way for communication between the governments of Jamaica and India.

She said the lighting infrastructure is a “furtherance of sports development” in Jamaica. Neita-Headley lauded the teamwork shown by various government ministries and state bodies, as well as the JCA, the Kingston Cricket Club and Sabina Park Holdings, the organisation responsible for managing the venue and its facilities.

The minister also reiterated her gratitude to the Indian High Commissioner Pratap Singh and the entity’s Charge d’Affaires MK Mohan for their influence in ensuring a smooth channel of communication between the parties.

Mohan declared that the partnership is a reflection of the “deep friendship and understanding” between both governments and stressed that India will do “everything possible to consolidate and strengthen the bilateral relationship”.

The grant from India is indicative of the emergence of the Asian country — with a population of over 1.2 billion people — as a quickly growing economic power.

First Published In The Jamaica Observer.

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 09:59