Now I know you folks have heard the countless stories and reports that some of the islands (chief among them Grenada) are in a state of unreadiness in preparation for the Cricket World Cup 2007. The Chairman of the Caricom CWC 2007 Committee, none other than Keith “Yuh mad or wha?” Mitchell, aka the Grenadian Prime Minister, vigorously asserts that Grenada’s National Stadium will most definitely be ready in time for the “testing” that is supposed to take place in October. Yes people, this October. October 2006. Seven months away.
Let me give you a little backstory about de Grenada National Stadium & Cricket Ground. The existing stadium, which was less than 5 years old and had been built under much tay-lay-lay, scandalous confusion and diversion of funds, had been destroyed by Ivan in 2004. After much back-and-forth begging and demanding, P. M. Mitchell managed to persuade the Chinese government (not that they needed much encouragement) to rebuild the stadium in time for World Cup.
Now let me interject here and state that it is my belief that Grenada will have its 6 World cup matches taken away. Will the stadium be ready? Who the hell knows. Those Chinese workers are certainly racking up some overtime, and two separate contractor friends of mine have stated that they believe the stadium could be ready for October. Note well, the stadium could be ready. The pitch now…. well… that’s another issue entirely. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn’t it usually take a long time to prepare, groom, tender, roll, press and test a pitch? I mean, in the previous stadium, the pitch had taken at least a year and a half to get to an “OK” playing condition. Right now what’s left of the pitch is sitting underneath piles of Chinese steel and rebar. There’s less than a year to have this pitch not just playable, but World Cup cricket-playable. Hmmm… I doh know nuh.
Then there’s the issue about getting Grenada itself ready. [Insert laugh track here] The stadium is right on the northern outskirt of the town of Saint George. Given the current traffic and vehicular conditions on an average workday, taking into consideration that the country’s central bus terminus is less than 1/4 mile away from the stadium, and factoring in the state of the roads in and around St. George, I am totally baffled as to how these thousands of cricket fans will be able to get to the stadium on any given day. Not to mention where exactly will these cricket fans be staying? Grenada has approximately 1,800 hotel rooms; yet we “hear” that we can expect at least 5,000 cricket followers to descend on our shores. Oh, I forget… the visitors can avail themselves of our Homestays Programme:
Successful applicants would be required to provide a high level of safety, comfort, cleanliness, and hospitality to all guests. Inspections will therefore be held on an annual basis to maintain prescribed standards.
I happen to know someone who has applied for this Homestay Programme and she was griping that she is required to pay a “license” fee of US$2,500 for the priviledge of being a Homestays venue, and in order just to recoup this fee she’d have to charge US$250 or more per night. That’s most than most hotels. And that’s without her clearing a profit!
So people. Tell me. What do you think? Can we do it? Can we salvage what’s left of our pride and hang on to those 6 matches?
Only time will tell. Stay tuned.