City Centre still being utilized despite structural damage

Back in September, events at the City Center were relocated because it was declared unsafe for large crowds. The recent hurricane caused further damage, but when we visited today, we found out that the sporting facility was still being used for high school events. So are the students at risk? That's what News Five's Isani Cayetano found out today.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belize City Centre despite being declared structurally unsafe back in August remains the venue for secondary school sporting activities. The multipurpose complex which also served as the location of choice for many international concerts was decommissioned as a result of continued decay. Crossbeams and other support mechanisms that are buttressing the structure are already buckling under the weight of its flooring. Even though there is an attendance capacity in light of the building's deterioration sports fanatic Deon Sutherland says they are proceeding as planned with this year's secondary school games.

Deon Sutherland

Deon Sutherland, Pres., Nat'l Secondary School Sports Association

"If you recall there was a number limit placed on the Civic which our games at the high school level leading up to even the nationals don't really have that quite number as the thousand persons they're looking at. [Uhm] during the course of the week depends on the game we'd have maybe like seventy-five to a hundred. When the playoffs comes about and the finals you're looking at maybe two [to] three hundred so we do not reach the threshold of the numbers that they are asking for."

Earlier this year the Executive Director of the National Sports Council, Anthony Michael, expressed his concerns to the Ministry of Works and an appraisal for the cost of renovation was said to be in the pipeline. Thus far nothing has been done to refurbish the building.

Anthony Michael

Anthony Michael, Exec. Dir., Nat'l Sports Council (File August 31st, 2010)

"I had written to the Ministry of Works before and due to their busy schedules and stuff with flooding happening throughout the country and stuff they found the time out also to come down and do a study for us, a very detailed study. I must applaud them for that effort. The report has been completed and was submitted to my office on Thursday which I in turn informed my minister the Honourable John Saldivar immediately of the recommendations set forward in that report. The Ministry of Works in their recommendation indicated to us that they would not like to see any concerts that create dynamic forces. That means significant moving and jumping up to occur until the further strengthening of the Civic Centre could be done."

The City Centre recently weathered Hurricane Richard but the severe beating it withstood only made matters worse.

Deon Sutherland

"During the hurricane quite a number of the [uhm] fibers from the top fell off which by the time we were ready to play which we started on Tuesday the Civic was entirely cleaned. You know, they had some water marks and spots and so that needed to be upkeeped but again that is, it's basically raining everyday so every day, but as far as we're concerned what we have seen over the past couple days and we are there it has been kept up to mark."

The attendance of high school games at the City Center is based on the teams that are playing and the particular stage of competition being played. According to Sutherland they are looking at past trends to indicate attendance.

Deon Sutherland

"Looking over the years our numbers basically are based over the years that we have had and if it so happens that maybe at the end of this season we realize that there is a greater number than we expected then I believe that the authorities there would then step in and tell us what we need to do. But I don't foresee it, not at this juncture, taking into consideration the high crime rate and all that we have been very squeezed tight even in getting people to come out and view the games."

High schools across Belize City are currently competing in the 2010-2011 basketball season with games being held at the City Center. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.