By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE groundwork has begun and by December, local players could be participating in a new Thomas A Robinson Baseball Stadium at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
Senator Greg Burrows, who is representing the Bahamas Government, said they are clearing out the land and the necessary drawings are being completed before some testing on the surface where the Grand Stand will be constructed is done over the next few weeks.
“After that happens, the approval of the company we will hire to construct the Grand Stand which will have a capacity of 8,000 seats will start their work,” Burrows said. “The stadium will have three stores and 24 boxes. Under the stadium, the building will have the team dugouts with bathrooms, the locker rooms, access for the players to enter the stadium, umpires room and the media room as well.
“The stadium will also have a big multi-purpose hall where teams can have their meetings or persons can host special events like weddings. It’s going to be a wonderful facility when it is completed.”
On Tuesday, Burrows, Leroy Archer, chairman of the National Sports Authority and Teddy Sweeting, secretary general of the Bahamas Baseball Federation, toured the grounds opposite the Government High School.
Archer said the stadium would be one of the additions that will appear in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre and the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex as they transform the area into a true sporting mecca.
“Near the Carnival site, we intend to put in a multi-purpose gymnasium, which will include basketball, volleyball and gymnastics in the gymnasium,” Archer said. “ That is something we hope to develop very soon.”
While the focus this year is going to be the construction of the new Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium, Archer said eventually they hope to include three smaller baseball diamonds that would allow more participation in the sport.
The NSA, through the Bahamas government, will eventually turn the entire sports complex into the envy of the region as they will construct a mini-hotel that will allow for the Family Island athletes and the visiting athletes from abroad to have a place to stay right in the confines of the sporting arenas.
Archer said there are also, in the works, plans to increase the soccer fields so that they too can accommodate more international competition and they will also be working with the Bahamas Golf Federation on the completion of the driving range that has been spearheaded by businessman Craig Flowers, who serves as the president of the BGF.
“We’re going to make this a place where we are all going to be proud of, almost like a college town,” he said. “We want to make it a place where people can come and spend the evening, walk around and get healthy.”
While the new stadium will take up the portion of land that currently hosts the national cycling track, Archer said they are hoping to re-locate that sport to the land opposite the Bahamas Hotrod Association, providing them with their own home to host their activities.
As for the Government High School, Archer said it has been recommended by the NSA that it be turned into a Sports Educational Academy where the students can be taught the various sporting disciplines and have the opportunity to utilise the facilities at the same time for their practical instructions.
Should that work out, Archer said the government will have to look at rebuilding Government High at another venue.
Sweeting said the preparation of the field is a welcome sight for all baseball players in the country.
“I think it’s a dawning of a new day. I think we like what we are hearing and wee are excited to see that they are starting the ground work,” he said. “We just want to see the stadium go up and then the additional fields that will eventually come as well. We host our nationals every year now, which has to be completed on four different fields for the various age brackets that we have.
“So the government has that in mind and they are planning to make sure that the complex here in New Providence accommodates our local national championships and then when we look to go abroad and bring in high school, collegiate or professional baseball training, we will have the facilities to accommodate.”
But Sweeting said as Jeff ‘Sangy’ Francis always reminds them that he’s ‘not going to get all excited until we start to see the stadium take shape.’ But I can tell Jeff that the tractors are here clearing down the land and they are looking at ways of how they can erect this new stadium and the smaller fields that will go along with it. So we’re on our way and we will continue to monitor the progress to see if we will indeed get to play baseball in the stadium by December.”