The long neglected, long abandoned premier arena for football in Belize City is getting a new lease on life. Thanks to successive sports councils which seem to have been in a state of hibernation, the M.C.C. Grounds has fallen into serious disrepair. In stories past we’ve shown you the disservice done to the pitch by contractors, but the truth is that everything needs major work – the bleachers, the interior and exterior fence and everything on the compound. That’s going to change soon due to a partnership between the new Sports Council and the Ramada Princess Hotel and Casino. We visited the grounds today where the fruit of a very innovative idea and a symbiotic relationship is already taking shape. Here’s that story with News Five’s Mike Rudon.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
This area inside the MCC Grounds will be a parking lot, to be constructed by the Princess group. It’s an idea which is already drawing some flak, but from talking to those involved, it’s difficult to see a down side to this interesting partnership.
Ritchel Dominguez, National Sports Director
“We asked Princess to partner with us in making the place much more user-friendly because what happened is that Princess will be using it at night and we will be using it if we have a match during the day. The land is sitting down there and Princess is going to give us financing to use the parking lot. We are lending it to them so that they can use it in the times that we are not using the parking lot and they will build the parking lot for us. It’s just partnering with Princess and getting this project up and running and getting it to where people can use it when we have the games.”
Cenk Tanir, General Manager, Princess Casino
“We are willing to fix the whole parking lot and in the night time when the stadium is not being used by the public for a match or any activities, we are willing to use it. For that we are willing to pay rent and the money will go to the renovation of the stadium. The usage for the casino or the Princess will not affect anything over here, the stadium or events or matches or any activities.”
It’s a winning scenario all around for the Sports Council – they get a beautified entrance area, parking lot and the funds to pump into the maintenance of the MCC Grounds without really having to do anything or spend anything, much less lose anything.
Carlos Lopez Gutierrez, Architect/Designer
Carlos Lopez Gutierrez
“We will do more bigger the entrance – one side for entrance and the next side for exit. We will put a security booth in the center where we can control the cars going in and out. We will have parking for eighty three cars in this area. We will put sand and gravel – we will have around the parking lot a green area which is much better for the parking lot.”
“Princess knows that if there is any match automatically the Sports Council takes over the use of the parking lot. We need to understand that even with us charging a fee for people to use the field for different matches, it doesn’t match up to keep the facility the way we would want to see the facility kept. If we look around everything looks beat up and run down but how do we move from here to get the facility to where we want it to be. And that is why we are partnering with Princess so that we can start by building the parking lot and then that will give the place a different look, and then we move on with the money that they are paying us to paint up the place and put in the lights that we so need in this place.”
The first contract will be for five years, with the option to renew if all works out as well as it should.
“We’re willing to continue with this deal if the National Sports Council if they allow us. As you see, I need the benefit because my customers need a parking lot. I am willing that both sides get the benefit. We renovate here, my customers have a parking lot. If after five years they’ve willing to sign another contract, I am ready to hear.”
“I am looking at ways to partner with different companies to get facilities up to a better standard than they are right now. It’s not that I am criticizing my predecessor, but that’s just my intention looking forward to where we can go. Everybody knows that the Sports Council has a small budget, so how do we go from there? Do we look at the small budget and say we are not going anywhere or do we partner together and go somewhere. That’s all I’m trying to do here.”
The land, including the area into which the Princess Group is investing, remains the property of the National Sports Council. Mike Rudon reporting for News Five.
In other Sports Council news, today Director, Ritchel Dominguez told News Five that he has opened up the gates of the Marion Jones Sporting Complex for the use of the general public, even as the search for funding to put clothes on the white elephant continues.