AN ARTIST’S IMPRESSION of what the completed AstroTurf would look like with bleachers and lighting.
by RACHELLE AGARD
THE BARBADOS FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION’S (BFA) Wildey AstroTurf will have a new look come next year. With work set to begin on the facility this week, footballers will be in new conditions, with their own lights and brand-new bleachers at the opening of the 2018 season, scheduled to kick off on January 7.
BFA’s general secretary Edwyn Wood made the confirmation in an interview with MIDWEEK NATION yesterday.
“We received the necessary funding from FIFA [world governing body], and payment has been made to the contractor for the start of the project,” he explained.
Cost for the lighting is estimated at $1.2 million, while the bleachers should cost just under $1.1 million. When the bleachers are finished, they should accommodate 1 645 fans. Both projects are being managed by Mahy-Ridley-Hazzard Engineers Ltd. The bleachers will be supplied by Sports Systems Canada, while the base will be done by local company C.O. Williams Construction, and the lighting done by Musco Lighting of the United States.
Installation of the bleachers will be the first phase of the project, while the lights, which will be shipped here next Monday, will complete the second half of the work.
“The refurbishing of the facility has been in the making for quite a number of years. However, it was delayed for several reasons beyond our control. After the new FIFA president was elected, they went through a restructuring process, and they introduced the Forward [Football Development] Programme, which meant new regulations.
“We also had to get the lease at Wildey extended to a 25-year period. We were at 18 or 19 years, so an amendment had to be done through the Government – which took some time to be approved by Cabinet. Once FIFA was satisfied we met all the requirements, they approved the funding, and here we are now,” Wood said.
The coach and former footballer said he was delighted to see the work finally starting.
“It has been a long process. I think we’ve satisfied all the requirements that FIFA has requested of us. We’re lucky to be getting two projects at the same time, and this is an indication of the confidence FIFA has in our local FA [football association]. We would have gone through three FIFA audits in the last four years with no major discrepancies, so I can only imagine this is as a result of the confidence they have in us,” he said.
Work is expected to be completed by year-end, so with the construction in progress, all remaining games for the year have been shifted to various venues across the island.
“We expect all the work to be completed by the end of December. We really should be starting the new season with lights and bleachers in place, providing we don’t have any further hiccups. However, if the need arises for us to push back the season by a couple of weeks to accommodate the process, then we are prepared to do that.
“We have also sought an alternative venue for the rest of the Women’s League. We have permission to use the Friendship Playing Field going forward, and the national teams are being accommodated at other venues.
I think everybody understands the importance of the construction process, so we’re doing what we can to ensure it happens,” he said.
Adapted from nationnews.com