By BRENT STUBBS
WELCOME to 2018.
With the New Year comes the much anticipated announcement by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Michael Pintard that work on the new national baseball stadium will commence.
Pintard said when the House of Assembly reconvenes next week, he will be making a comprehensive report on the status of the stadium, which was put on hold last year by the construction firm Woslee Construction.
"Initially when the approvals were given to build the stadium, the Ministry's client, the Ministry of Works, was the executing agent," he told The Tribune.
"A cost came up and we had an architect, Michael Foster, who had fees of about 8.75 per cent assigned to him. It did not take into consideration VAT and the additional works that was required. So what started out as a little more than $16 million grew when the contract was finally awarded."
Those are some staggering figures, considering the fact that the project had to be put on hold last year and now it's anticipated that it will probably take another year before the stadium is finally completed at a cost that is still being calculated. "Fortunately Cabinet approved the adjustment in pay for those persons who are managing the project, who are involved in the design and Cabinet has also approved the additional pay for work that has already been done," Pintard disclosed. "That now puts us in a position to move ahead with the project and to put in place the additional funding for Woslee to continue the work that they are doing."
With that said, Pintard said he has every confidence that they can move ahead with the project and barring any disaster, the projected completion date is the end of the year.
That sounds like good news to the ears of those aspiring baseball players who are looking forward to following in the footsteps of the more than 16 players currently plating in the pipeline of major league baseball as professional players.
Some of those players, led by Todd Isaacs Jr and Lucius Fox, will showcase an unique project with their inaugural 'Home Run Derby in Paradise' on Saturday, starting at noon on Montagu Bay.
"Home Run Derby is an opportunity for me to give back to the country that has given so much to me," Isaacs stated. "At a time when the development of our nation's youth is critical, baseball can have a positive influence and create opportunities for young men who have few options.
"When students come out and see how many Bahamians are changing their lives through professional baseball, they can be inspired to know that they can change their lives too."
The local pro players, along with four international players - Bo Bichette (Toronto Blue Jays), Nick Gordon (Minnesota Twins), Juan Hillman (Cleveland Indians) and Triston McKenzie (Cleveland Indians) - will attempt to see who can hit the most balls from the shore into the sea to earn the prestigious title of Home Run King.
The initiative could have been a focus of attention in the new stadium had it been completed as originally projected. But in the meantime, Isaacs and Fox should be commended for coming up with such a unique alternative as the scenic Montagu foreshores will once again be in the international spotlight.
Pintard said while they are committed to completing the stadium that was started under the former Progressive Liberal Party government, he want to stay away from the politics of what the Free National Movement government inherited.
Unfortunately, Pintard said the stadium has become political and he will take the opportunity to give the public a clear view of what should have been done and where it should have been located and the additional fields that should be accompanied the new stadium.
One of the major issues is that on its current projection, the stadium will be more suited for collegiate baseball as opposed to professional baseball, which may have an effect when completed in terms of allowing Isaacs, Fox and the rest of the Bahamian players to really show of their skills, should they decide to hot a pro game in the future.
There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and Pintard said he will try to provide as much as he can when he makes his address in the House of Assembly.
For now, all eyes will be on watching the work commence and the stadium being completed. Hopefully, it will be conducive for our pro players to come home and out on some type of exhibition as will be done on Saturday in Montagu Bay.
Happy New Year.