By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
SINCE the introduction of the National Sports Authority last year, fees have now become mandatory for the use of the facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center.
But NSA chairman Leroy Archer said he met the policy in place by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and he has only been enforcing what’s on the books.
“The Bahamas Government, through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, gave me the rates. We have not increased the rates since we came into office,” Archer said. “So we are trying to comply with what the rules are. But I think there are people who just don’t want to comply with those rules.”
Archer was referring to recent comments made by Algernon Cargill, who was recently returned as president of the Bahamas Swimming Federation.
Cargill said they have been forced to postpone or cancel some of their events because of the fees being implemented to both the clubs and the swimmers.
The usage fees, as documented by the NSA, calls for all federation and association clubs to pay $400 to host a meet and $5 for any swimmer to use the facility to practice. Cargill said the federation has never been charged for the use of the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Center.
But Archer said there is no fee charged to any national teams that occupy the facilities.
And according to Archer, there is a usage fee applied to the other facilities at the QESC.
For example, the Bahamas Basketball Federation and their affiliated associations are charged $300 a day for the use of the Kendal Isaacs Gym. Any charitable organisation, including churches, are being charged $1,000 per day for the use of the gym.
And for the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium, there is a fee of $300 a day for the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations and their affiliated associations and clubs to stage a track and field meet. There is also a fee of $5 per athlete to use the facility.
However, all charitable organisations are being charged $500 per day to use the TAR stadium.
The fees are only applicable to the old TAR stadium, which is expected to be closed for renovations while the BAAA will be allowed to host their season opening Odd Distance Track and Field Meet this Saturday in the new TAR stadium with the view of taking it through a test run for the Carifta Games that will be staged there over the Easter holiday weekend.
“So for all of our facilities, there is a charge,” Archer said. “That does not cover electricity, the supplies that have to be there and the fact that we have to maintain these facilities to a high standard. We have to train the Bahamian people that nothing in life is free. You have to pay something, if only a dollar.
“So I know that we have to go through these rocky roads where our people have been accustomed to getting everything free and not having to pay for anything. You walk in, you use it, you leave it dirty and you walk out. If you want to raise the standard or the bar, you have to pay.”
Archer said the Bahamas government is hard pressed to provide the necessary funding to properly maintain the facilities. That is the main reason why they are insisting that the federations, associations and the general public be aware of the fees that are incurred in the usage of the national facilities.
“We have to find a way where if we want the high standard of facilities, we have to pay for it,” he said.
The National Tennis Centre, according to Archer, is exempt from any fees because it is currently leased out to the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association.
Archer said they negotiated with the BSF to have the BKKNC leased out to the BSF, but the offer was turned down by Cargill. He said David Morley negotiated the usage fees with the NSA, but Cargill also turned that down. Archer said he then invited Cargill to make a proposal for the BSF to pay a certain amount of usage fee, but he has not gotten any reply yet.
“The president doesn’t want to pay anything,” Archer said. “But I have a problem with that because the inner city kids have been regulated to the South Beach pools. The people that should be helped are those from the inner city. They could be free. But if you are an affluent middle class society, I don’t see why they can’t pay these fees. You should pay something.
“That is not just for swimming, but all federations. I am here to support them all. I am here to work with you. If you wish to sit and chat, come and let’s chat. I’m very transparent. I’m trying to see how we can work together to make this work. But you have to pay something.”
There is a master plan for the QESC and Archer said persons can view the details on their website – www.nsa-bahamas.com
Persons wishing to make a booking for the use of any of the facilities can do so by contacting Joan Henderson, the administrator for facilities at the NSA, at 325-0372/6 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org