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#471895 - 09/05/13 11:26 AM When Will Marion Jones Be Ready?
Marty Offline
Minister of State in the Minsitry of Sports, Herman Longsworth was in Belmopan today as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and we used the opportunity to ask him about the still unfinished Marion Jones Sporting Complex.

An entire generation of athletes is forced train elsewhere under substandard conditions and prepare themselves for international tournaments while successive Governments have been working on the Marion Jones complex. So, today while the media had an opportunity we asked Longsworth about it, who bristled at the suggestion that the progress to completion has been delayed:

Hon. Herman Longsworth - Minister of State/Sports
"Marion Jones is proceeding as planned, we are working grandstand facilities now, trying to complete them. There is going to be a new presentation, because I have come up with a new master plan for the facility which includes more activities, more disciplines. I want to introduce swimming to the facility, I also want to introduce cricket to the facility so I will sometime over the September celebrations - I will be in more detail unveiling what it is we want to do and we're hoping to find the money. I am going vigorously after finding the money to be able to make this facility into a real national facility."

"People believe this is hopelessly behind schedule, you want to add more to it and it hasn't even reached...."

Hon. Herman Longsworth
"Which people are you talking about? Because the people who have the schedule don't feel that way and I have always invited the media to come out here and see what is going on. You don't come but you talk - come to Marion Jones and see what is going, come and see the progress. I've kept inviting you guys and you don't come. Now why I said I want to make it into a real national facility, I mean I want to cover as many disciplines as I possibly can - initially it was only planned for track and field, cycling and football. We have introduced now beach volleyball, racket ball and a whole other things that I want to see go on because we have the space."

Daniel Ortiz
"When can we expect that the Marion Jones sporting complex will be open for business?"

Hon. Herman Longsworth
"I am still hoping, we won't be complete but I am hoping that we can have the facility sufficient complete to open to the public by the end of the year."

And while we had the opportunity we asked Longsworth about the Berger Field, for which plans for upgrade were revealed 9 months ago. Since the unveiling no work has been done, so we asked Longsworth today, about the delay. He explained that plans have changed somewhat:

Hon. Herman Longsworth - Minister of State/Sports
"There's been a change to Berger field, we are in conversation with FIFA and the FFB to have a meeting this coming week to finalize it but I can say in principle that we can put in five-a-side football so there has been a change. It is going to be a really nice facility if we can agree on the responsibilities that we must share, so that is the delay because we were in discussion to do something else other than what was initially planned so we can cover more people and put in place proper programs. The intention really, is to lease the facility to the FFB and have them develop the football structure, a proper football club there. So the FFB, if we agree, will take over the facility and run it on our behalf."

According to Longsworth, all funds allocated for the Berger Field are present and accounted for.

Channel 7

#472194 - 09/10/13 10:59 AM Re: When Will Marion Jones Be Ready? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Marion Jones Complex, Coming On, Slowly

Last week Wednesday, the minister of state with responsibility for Sports had to defend what looks like painfully slow progress on the construction of the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.

He challenged the media to tour the facility ourselves to see just how far along the contractors are. Today, he organized that tour and Daniel Ortiz was there:

Longsworth plans to launch his master plan to talk about the additional parts of the stadium. He stressed that these additions will not delay the access to the facility in any way, and he still plans to have it open to the public by the end of the year.

We note that a track event was held at the facility over the weekend.

Channel 7

#472202 - 09/10/13 11:22 AM Re: When Will Marion Jones Be Ready? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Media tour of twenty-million dollar Marion Jones Stadium

Construction of a world class facility to be called the Marion Jones Sporting Complex commenced in 2004. Two political terms and several re-incarnations later, the complex is still underway. The media has, with good reason, grown very skeptical and cynical whenever this facility is mentioned. There was a proclamation last week that it would be, if not complete, at least available for limited use by the end of the year. Today, Minister of Sports Herman Longsworth granted a tour of the multimillion dollar facility showing off impressive thirteen million dollar grandstand with a panoramic view of the sea. Mike Rudon was there and has this report.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This semi-finished sporting complex is named for the Belizean/American sports sensation who donated an initial amount of money for its construction…then took back that money when no construction ever took place. Today, the grounds of the Marion Jones Sporting Complex lie in the shadow of a towering structure which, as impressive as it is, seems to be far from complete.

Herman Longsworth, Minister of Sports

“We are, I would say in terms of the structural works, about eighty-five percent complete in terms of the structural works. As you can see from coming up from downstairs we’ve done a lot of the finishes as well. We’ve almost plastered everything downstairs and as soon as we clear out we’ll start with the floor works and that sort of thing. The emphasis for us is to complete the public areas first. We do all the public areas and then try to get the facility to a point where we can start to use it. And then we continue finishing all the other things that need to be finished.”

And to be fair to all concerned, the monumental five-story structure is very striking and modern, fitted with elevators and every amenity and luxury a sporting audience could imagine, including press areas and VIP boxes overlooking the sea.

Herman Longsworth

“This building is everything. It is a grandstand facility. It’s similar to what, on a much smaller scale, you would see in much bigger countries where everything is here. Just below us are the concession areas where all the shops and everything will be for the spectators to buy whatever they want to buy. We have below, storage facilities for all the sporting equipment, we have locker rooms, referee rooms, we have a gym, we have offices for the National Sports Council because we want to bring the National Sports Council here and have them live here. So all that…it’s a one stop shop! Everything is here.”

Right below this amazing structure is the area dedicated to sports, for which the complex is also named.

Herman Longsworth

“What you see here is the FIFA standard football field immediately on the ground here below us. You can see the four hundred meter track over in the distance there…and you can see the cycle track on the ground here. Over to the right you can see the beach volleyball facility that we’ve built and used before.”

The grandstand is costing almost fourteen million dollars of about twenty million dollars which is the total cost anticipated when the facility is complete. That doesn’t include the fence, which was budgeted to cost one point eight million dollars.


“If somebody was to say you know what, three-quarters of the money was spent on bleachers, the public area and the fence, and a small portion of the money was spent on the actual sporting out there…because I can tell you that coming out here…love the view, love this building and everything, but then there’s only a track, and there’s not much to see out there in terms of sporting…”

Herman Longsworth

“But when you say only a track…that is a world class track. That is not just some track. A good bit of money has gone into that, so that all the track and field athletes will have a world class facility to be able to use. That football field is going to be a FIFA standard football field. Again, it’s not some little facility. This is a world-class facility that we’re building here, and the athletes will have access to that. That is what we’re doing for the athletes. But we also have to take care of the spectators; we have to take care of the people that will make the sport happen. They will come and spend their money to ensure that the athletes can continue to go. That’s how it works…that’s how it works.”

And for it to work, people have to start making use of the facility. Longsworth says he is still hoping for the end of the year.

Herman Longsworth

“We are concentrating on ensuring that the public areas are complete. When the public areas are complete, we can open the facility to the public, and that is my concentration right now. That is what all this work is toward. We will finish the other areas that aren’t necessarily public areas after we have ensured that we cover all the public areas and have it ready for use.”

Longsworth has big dreams for the addition of other sporting areas to the complex, including an Olympic size swimming pool and a racquetball court. He says that he has already received tentative funding for those plans. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Channel 5

#487593 - 03/07/14 10:12 AM Re: When Will Marion Jones Be Ready? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

When will the Marion Jones Sporting Complex finally open?

The Marion Jones Sporting Complex is one project that is likely to be revisited in Friday’s budget. The complex is far from completion and according to the Minister of State with responsibility for Sports, Herman Longsworth, the delays have been caused by funding. Today, Longsworth cited the rains as another reason why the state of the art complex is not yet ready. The stadium has been closed since 2008 and today we still could not get a clear indication as to when the sporting facility will finally be open.

Herman Longsworth, Minister of State with Responsibility for Sports

“You know the rains really put a beating on us. We are poised now as you can see, the bleachers are almost finished. Most of the finishes are pretty much there in terms of what we had contracted the contractor to do. I have said to them that everybody goes home if cycling does not finish in here for cross country, if cross country does not finish in here and I believe we are pretty much there to get that done.”


Herman Longsworth

“And how about the other aesthetics around the place…the track, that sort of thing?”

Herman Longsworth

“Well all that is to be done out of funds that we do not have. I am trying to locate funds. I am to meet the fourteenth I believe with the Mexicans again…they are coming to Belize again with all their architects etc. because they have agreed to contribute to the project. But you know with these government projects it takes time…it takes time for the Mexicans to get the money from their government and that sort of thing. But I am hoping that by the middle of this year we will see the Mexicans in. We will see some activity around the track and we will see other things happening outside of what the government already has the money for.”


“And the FIFA certified football field?”

Herman Longsworth

“The field is hopefully to be completed. I got a commitment from Mr. Cisco Woods, Francis Woods, and that is the reason I gave permission for the use of the field, because he will bring his team in after this event and they will go back over the field for us, and in a couple months time we should see the field looking like a field. We’re having some issues as you can see…you have some dry grass and that sort of thing. We’re having some issues with the grass growing, but we’re doing our best and he has committed to bringing in his technical people to get it done for us, so I am absolutely happy with that.”

Channel 5

#487986 - 03/14/14 10:48 AM Re: When Will Marion Jones Be Ready? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Mexicans and Marion Jones

And before that press conference, Longsworth had a meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister and Mexican Ambassador to Belize. He's been trying to get them to partner with his ministry to add more facilities to the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.

Today, we asked him about what came of that meeting, and he explained that the Mexicans have committed some 8 million dollars in funding for an indoor volleyball facility:

Hon. Herman Longsworth
"In terms of the meeting that I was in today I have said before that I've been in discussion with the Mexicans and they have agreed that they would do something at the Marion Jones Stadium. I was hoping for a building and a swimming pool. It works out that they can only give us the building because of the monies they have available and they will be giving us the FIFA standard lighting for the football field. That is what they came to present me today to show me what they've come up with and to get my concurrence on it for them to now go back start the process of getting the money out and that sort of thing. But they are now committed to get this done."

Daniel Ortiz
"And how much is that investment going to be sir?"

Hon. Herman Longsworth
"I am not completely sure, but I believe it is in the vicinity of about 8 - 10 million dollars."

Longsworth told us that what was presented to him was only the designs for that facility, and the next stage is that the Ambassador and Foreign Minister will return to their Government to start the process of putting together the funding.

Without being ungracious - we should note that for the better part of 5 years the Mexicans have been promising to fund a sports facility that started out as a very pretty multi-purpose sports center at the City Center site - but for a whole host of reasons, mostly Mexican red tape, it never happened.

Channel 7

Will the Marion Jones Sporting Complex be ready for Cross Country?

Since its groundbreaking in August 2009, the Marion Jones Sporting Complex has been slow to become a reality.  In fact, construction began on enclosing the perimeter before work could commence on the building of bleachers and other features of the multimillion dollar facility.  It’s been over four and a half years and the stadium is slowly inching towards completion.  But, there is a bit of good news coming out of the Ministry of Sports.  This afternoon, Minister of State Herman Longsworth met with Mexican officials to discuss the expansion of the project.  They have agreed to provide FIFA-certified lighting for a football field on the compound, as well as the construction of an indoor sporting facility.  While the addition will further delay the deadline of the project, Longsworth says that the stadium will be partially opened to the public by Easter, in time to host the conclusion of the upcoming Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. 

Herman Longsworth

Herman Longsworth, Minister of State with Responsibility for Sports

“The Mexicans had come to Belize and they had agreed that they were going to be a part of the Marion Jones Project.  They had some money [but] they weren’t fully cognizant of what all they could have done.  They came to see what it is we have planned and now they have come back with plans of their own to show us what they can give us.  They’re going to give us an indoor facility, a building that will be primarily for volleyball but is going to be able to house things like basketball and all indoor stuff: table tennis, boxing, karate, that sort of thing.  So they’ve agreed to give us that and they have agreed to provide the lighting, the FIFA standard lighting for the football field at Marion Jones.  So that was the discussion today.  They came, they presented to us a plan, a proposal for what they want to come and do.  I agreed, I agreed immediately to it and so they are now going back to start to develop the process to make it happen, you know.”

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of a completion date and of course the installation of these specific lightings and all these other amenities, what are we looking at?”

Herman Longsworth

“Well in terms of what we are committed to doing, I believe we should see a completion of about sometime late 2015, sometime late 2015.  In terms of what we are doing now, we, I am confident that we will have the facility ready for Cross Country, in terms of the public portion of it.  We hope that we, we still don’t have the money to do all the work that is there to do but I’m hoping that we will find some more monies and we will be able, if we get those monies anytime soon we should, within another eight or ten months, be able to have the majority of what we had originally planned completed.  But certainly we should be able by Easter to be able to have the Cross Country finishing there and have it opened to the public, you know.”

Channel 5

#489390 - 04/12/14 10:48 AM Re: When Will Marion Jones Be Ready? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Work halted at Marion Jones because of non-payment

One month ago Minister of Sports Herman Longsworth told News Five that the Marion Jones Sporting Complex was close to completion. That’s a story we had certainly heard before, multiple times, so we pushed him on it. He told us then that he had told the contractors that if the Cross Country Cycling Classic did not finish at the Marion Jones, they would have to pack up and go home. Long story short, the sporting complex is not complete, the Cross Country will not finish there and no, the contractors will not be sent home. There has actually been no work done on the facility in the past weeks, but that’s not the contractors’ fault. Longsworth says government is to blame.

Herman Longsworth, Minister of Sports

Herman Longsworth

“To a large extent this recent pause, if you will, to a large extent is government’s fault. It’s all the budget cycle business, the system close and takes time to get money out and there was a delay in a payment. In fact, I don’t think it has been paid as yet, it’s probably going to be paid this week, and so the contractors are waiting for a payment and so it’s a delay on government’s part. But I believe that even with that the areas that we needed to be finished for Cross Country may very well…I think the contractor that is finishing up the bleachers should have most of the bleachers sitting in his yard, it’s just a matter of installing them now. So they may very well still be close to doing it. But government will have to take the blame for this most recent delay, which was money that had been delayed. The payment still hasn’t been made. I just got a call today asking me what’s happening with it and I had to check on it, and my C.E.O. is checking to find out where the payment is as we speak.”


“Cross Country is next week…”

Herman Longsworth

“It won’t finish in the Marion Jones, but we had also not been so concerned because the Cycling Association had communicated to us that they would not really have needed the facility because Princess Margaret Drive is so bad that they can’t come on there, so they have rescheduled the route through Freetown Road or something like that to go on to Marine Parade, so they wouldn’t have been able to reach there anyhow. So we hadn’t been too concerned about it, otherwise we would have had to be putting on the pressure. But like I said, this delay has been government’s delay, because we haven’t made the payment.”

Channel 5


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