Of course, the Minister of Education is also the Minister of Sports - and we took the opportunity today to talk to him about the Marion Jones Stadium and the City center.
Both facilities are closed - and don't look like they will be opening anytime soon. And, as bad as they were - which is pretty bad - they were the country's premier facilities for basketball, volleyball and track.
And now that they are closed with no completion date in sight - athletes who aspire to any elite level - are being sent a clear message: NOT NOW.
Faber conceded Marion Jones is a little behind schedule - while the City Center project is in the air:
Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"I am not sure why you are saying that it's lagging behind. Certainly, since the last pronouncement was made as to the time frame, it is not lagging behind. As I understand it, we intend to have the Marion Jones Facility completed at some point in 2013. So in that regard, we can't say that it's lagging behind. The works are - at this point - not where it should be, yes, but it's not the kind of issue that it's so far behind, that it can't be brought up to speed. I will tell you that I think though that Minister Herman Longsworth and I, since we have taken over the Ministry of Sports have been very diligent in meeting with the stakeholders - the contractor, the consultant - to make sure that the Marion Jones Complex Project does not fail to meet the people's expectations, as made by whatever the last time frame that was given."
"And is there any progress on the Civic Center?"
Hon. Patrick Faber
"As far as I am understanding, yes, although I am not able to say definitely. I had indicated - I think a few weeks ago on one of the morning talk shows - that we were not certain. The finance was not nailed down, so to speak, as it related to the Mexican Government making that contribution. You know that the Prime Minister announced that it would have been a gift from the Mexican people. And we are no closer to saying that we've secured that funding, but all is not lost. We're hoping that something can still be done, although, I don't want to get people's hopes up falsely. It's not looking it's going to happen - at least not in this calendar year."
"But certainly, you realize the deleterious effect that this has on the moral - not only of older athletes, but of young athletes - when they realize that the nation - the state - is telling you, 'Don't get into athletics, we are not ready for you.'"
Hon. Patrick Faber
"I don't know how you get to that, Jules. We are working diligently to make sure that the Marion Jones Complex is completed. That facility - as I understand it - will cater to athletics. It will cater to football, and it will cater to a number of disciplines -"
"But it's been close to 4 years."
Hon. Patrick Faber
"Yes, you are right, and I can't take responsibility for all of that. They know that under my watch, I am trying to make sure that the last time frame that they gave us, is now going - it is not on target; let me not tell you a lie - but we're insistent to make sure that that is realized close to the date that was given, which I believe was in 2013 at some point. As it relates to basketball, you are right in that there is no home for it. We've discussed that with the Basketball Federation, and I don't want to put things out there because then it becomes - we become obliged almost to get it done, or people will say that you say these things and you are not serious. We're in discussions to see what can be done in the short term to provide a place for basketball and volleyball in this country because we know it is putting a hurting on the city. It's putting a hurting on the recreation, and on some of the competitions that are going on, even in the Ministry of Education where we have the primary school tournaments that is being played outside of the Civic Center. And you know that many issues have come up with the security there and issues."
The Marion Jones stadium has been closed for construction since March of 2008, and since then, the project has gone through a number of visions and revisions. We understand that after the passage of the prime of a few athletes, the synthetic track has recently been laid.
As for the City Center, the last update was that it would be demolished by February of this year - which didn't happen, it is still standing, an apparently eternal monument to bloated contracts.