By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WHEN Leroy Archer was commissioned as the first chairman of the National Sports Authority (NSA), he said he was given a mandate by the Bahamas Government to enforce the laws as it pertains to the use of the sporting facilities on the 450 acres at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.
That was February 4, 2012.
Almost a year earlier, the government enacted the legislation for the formation of the NSA on July 27, 2011.
Since coming to office, Archer said he and his board members have been working diligently to carry out their mandate, although there has been a lot of resistance and reluctance from some of the sporting bodies.
“The fees have been put in place by the government for the use of the facilities,” Archer said. “We have only been working to make sure that the sporting bodies comply as we enforce the fees. These are no new fees. If we were to introduce any new fees, they will be much higher than they are now.”
Archer, whose board includes assistant chairman Jeff Beckles, Anton Sealy, president of the Bahamas Football Association and Senator Greg Burrows, said they have made it a point to work with all of the sporting bodies for the best usage of the facilities at the QESC.
“We want to encourage the sporting bodies to contact us and let’s work out the best plan to pay the fees,” Archer said. “It’s important that these sporting bodies pay their fees because they can’t just continue to use them without having to pay anything at all.”
Archer drew the illustration that it costs the NSA about $354,000 to maintain the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium and so far they have only collected about $46,000. He noted that it cost the NSA around $440,000 to operate the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex and they collected about $9,000.
He didn’t put a figure on the use of either the original or the new Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadiums, but he noted that they are well into the six-digit figure and that is why it is so important for them to be able to generate the funding from the user fees.
“Every government around the world are implementing some type of user fee for their complexes,” Archer said. “Right in Jamaica, they are charging swimmers $2 to use their complex to train. We are only charging the swimmers $1 and we’ve had some resistance with that. “We’re saying that you have to contribute something to the upkeep of the facilities,” Archer said.
“We have been negotiating with the swimmers for the past 14 months. But during that time, we have been allowing them to go in and use the facilities. We have been trying to work with them.”
According to Archer, both the participants in basketball and volleyball have been paying the required fees to use the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
He said the NSA is now in negotiation with the participants who use the facilities at softball, soccer, golf, basketball, tennis and cycling at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
“We want to work with everybody,” Archer said. “So we’re asking for those organisations who wish to use the facilities to contact the NSA at 325-0372 so that we can sit down and determine what is best suited for your needs. Not all of the organisations will pay the same prices so we have to work out what’s best for everybody.”
Just recently added to the QESC is the new complex for motor racing that will be operated by the Bahamas Hot Rod Association. Next year, Archer said they intend to start working on the construction of the new baseball stadium and upgrades to the softball fields at Baillou Hills.
The NSA just recently hosted a meeting with the New Providence Softball Association, the Bahamas Government Departmental Softball Association, the Banker’s League and the Baptist Sports Council over the fees being enforced for the use of the softball facilities at Baillou Hills.