The frame for the Belize City Center is starting to take shape and excitement rises with every beam that is erected next to the BelCan Bridge.
Belize City basketball players have been homeless since September of 2013 when the old Belize City Center was torn down. The only “reliable” venues for hosting basketball competitions since have been the Birds Isle and Belize Elementary Auditorium. Without trying to be ungrateful to a welcoming host, Birds Isle would not qualify to host any mid-level league anywhere else in the world. At any time now, someone may fall through that court. It does have sentimental appeal so maybe the National Institute of Culture and History should look into establishing it as a landmark. The Elementary Auditorium is basically a hot box trapped inside a microwave oven. One of the three point line is further than the other and most ballers swear that one of the rims is higher than the next. Apart from that, the facility provides a decent playing experience. However, Belize City ballers are ready to go back home.
JVCA Medina’s Construction Ltd/International Environments Ltd. signed contracts with the Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) on October 8, 2015 and in November of 2015, work teams began to move into the City Center compound to get the project off the ground. According to BIL, the new Belize City Center Arena and Cultural Complex design will qualify for world championship women’s U-21 and U-19 world championship men and women events. There will be three interior practice basketball courts and one professional center court. The design allows for designated seating for up to 4000 for games and 5000 for indoor entertainment events such as conventions, concerts and other sporting events such as boxing and volleyball. Seats are individual and are numbered by rows. The design also includes post game rooms, media rooms, administration room and more concessions space. The new Belize City Center will be fully air conditioned and fully handicap accessible. The facility will be equipped with stage and event performance space and back of house facilities. The size and careful design of the building footprint and structural placement allows for a broader range of vehicles that will now be able to park under the building. The interior function of the building was completed in accordance with FIBA standards and in conjunction with approved consultancy input. Exterior design allows for multiple plazas to accommodate recreational sports and parks, including two outdoor basketball courts, one 5 on 5 soccer field and skateboard parks just to name a few. It caters to hosting outdoor entertainments with security features, police and ambulance Zones.
The value of the contract is BZ$32,940,261.34 and construction is expected to be completed by December of 2017.
STEEL construction company REIDsteel has thrown its weight behind the multi-million dollar sports stadium in Belize.
The company, based in Dorset, UK, has performed the structural design, drawing work and fabrication for the new national arena in Belize City.
The $32.9m (Belize Dollars) complex – due for completion in December 2017 – will include international standard volleyball and basketball courts, stands, running tracks, a skateboard park, gym and football pitch.
Named the Belize Civic Centre Sports Complex, it will include a FIBA/FIVB basketball and volleyball pro courts, gym facilities and offices as well as being able to accommodate large entertainment concerts and venues under one roof.
The exterior offers the community free access to a sports park that includes a 45-meter running track, a five-on-five football field, various basketball courts and an exterior performance amphitheater.
Steel construction company REIDsteel has the capability to design, manufacture, ship and erect entire steel buildings including their cladding and or glazing requirements anywhere in the UK and world.
Project engineer Pepe Olivier said: “The new national arena is one of the biggest projects of its kind in Belize and will help transform the country’s sporting and cultural life.
“The contractor turned to us as we have a demonstrable history of exporting to Belize, Central America and the Caribbean.
“Our business model means that we can carry out the structural design, drawing and fabrication under one roof at our Dorset site before containerising the finished structure for shipping to its destination.
“Demand for this type of service continues to rise from clients worldwide, including many outside of Europe who see the value in a seamless service.”
The structurally optimized steel frame included hot rolled sections hot dip galvanized for protection from the elements and for ease of maintenance, all designed for hurricane wind speeds of 160 miles per hour.
A total of 750 tonnes of steelwork was required for the 39,000 sq ft complex, including a roofing system spanning 200 feet, together with all the terraces for approximately 4000 seats and all the suspended floors consisting of galvanized composite metal decking system suitable for cast-in-situ concrete.
The glazing package including curtain walling and aluminium framed windows were also packed for export and shipped to Belize.
The Government of Belize has funded the sports centre project. It is being developed by Belize Infrastructure Limited and designed by the architects at International Environments (IE) Ltd
REIDSteel has built stadiums, auditoriums and complexes worldwide, including football, cricket and motorsport arenas.
It has the capacity to design, make and build all elements of stadia from the frame to gangways, entrances, exits, tunnels, terracing, seating, sliding roofs, corporate hospitality boxes and balconies.
REIDsteel’s previous work in Belize has included a hi-tech shrimp processing plant covering 9,000 sq m.
For months now city residents have been watching the Civic Center quickly taking shape. At 55 thousand square feet and 70 feet high, it is an impressive sight on the Belize City skyline. But, how does inside look? And does it actually suit the purpose for which it was designed - which is to be a world class basketball facility?
Tough questions, and the truth is that we Belizeans have learned well to look those glistening gift horses very closely in the mouth - because when it comes to public contracts, what you see, and what you should get, are very rarely what you actually get. So today, the design firm which is also the co-contractor called the media in for a two hour long walk through of the largest and most expensive structure in Belize's history. Jules Vasquez tried to figure if it's worth all those millions:.
Jules Vasquez reporting
At 32 million dollars, it's the most expensive public or private structure ever built in Belize. Today the designers and co-contractors - who are the Arguelles brothers from the I.E. design and build firm led the media on a walk through to tell us, first of all, the project is on time and on budget:
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles, ARCHITECT - I.E. "We have the building set for handing over substantial competitions sometime in late September. We were given 2 years to execute this work from pen to paper to finish turnkey completion by December of this year. We are in this current time ahead of schedule by 3 months. We are currently at and within budget and we project that we will remain within budget up until handing over the total amount of 32 million."
And for 32 million dollars, Belizean get a truly first class, first world type facility, fully air conditioned, and capable of seating - in individual chairs - 4,500 persons with another 500 standing. The eye line with the court is outstanding and the view is unobstructed. The wooden court is FIBA certified and is being installed by the US Company, same for the FIBA grade basketball rim stands.
Daniel Arguelles, ARCHITECT - I.E. "If somebody walks away from this building and says in there looks like States, we have made it, so to speak, and we are here to show people that in Belize we can do it."
But, we're also in the hurricane belt - and that's why it is multi-purpose:
Daniel Arguelles, ARCHITECT - I.E. "The building occupies or serves about three purposes; hurricane shelter, multifaceted entertainment facility. It can host concerts, boxing, entertainment type venues, conventions and of course basketball, volleyball sporting venues and that is FIBA standard."
It's sprawling and towering, and it has four locker rooms, multiple concession stands, VIP areas, even a doctor's treatment room - and it's all air conditioned and tiled, every single area. And while it is a public facility, Arguelles says it should be privately managed:
Jules Vasquez "The building has to be run by a private management firm which is not the sports council or the Ministry of Sports. It has to be run by a firm, a private entity that is running this for profit as a business to maintain the structure."
Daniel Arguelles, ARCHITECT - I.E. "In my opinion yes. A business owner, manager or a company of some type of pubic private partnership or some equation of that kind of business model is necessary to run this building."
And outside the building, there are also facilities to engage the neighborhood and the wider community:
Daniel Arguelles, ARCHITECT - I.E. "We didn't want to incorporate fences we needed it to be inviting for the public. We have a built in basketball rims full court and 2 half courts, so that 3:30 when the kids are out on their way home, they could stop in to have a game or two. We also have a 5 on 5 soccer pitch where again, it's available for the public to just interact. We have a green pitch that is just open for general workout activity and exercise activity. For example, we even included a 45 meter dash sprint track, that is coated with 1 inch thick rubberized material. We are going to install a deck facility, a docking facility at the river's edge where it can double as a water taxi micro business opportunity. So what we envisioned is that in the future, people from Ladyville or Belama on game day, instead of taking the bus or being caught up in traffic, somebody can have the opportunity to run water taxi along the Haulover Creek and make a good business opportunity."
Yes, Arguelles did ask to appear off camera. As he noted, the building will be handed over three months early in September.
And one side note, Arguelles says the venue can be used for indoor and outdoor concerts. For the indoor events, the court will have a FIBA approved covering for the court to ensure that it is not damaged.
They estimate that it will consume almost four hundred thousand dollars' worth of electricity annually.
Tomorrow we'll tell you more about the features of the building as a hurricane shelter.
Two years after the start of construction, the Belize City Center is about to be completed. The multipurpose facility is state-of-the-art and can accommodate up to four thousand spectators. It is designed by brothers Daniel and Carlo Arguelles of International Environments. But how much is being spent on the complex? I.E. representative Daniel says they have kept within budget. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The reimagined Belize City Center, built from the ground up, will stand as a hallmark of the Barrow administration, with funds set aside from the PetroCaribe days of plenty. That’s according to Prime Minister Dean Barrow. The project has been two years in the making and is nearing completion. Designed by brothers Daniel and Carlo Arguelles of International Environments and erected by Medina’s Construction, the state-of-the-art sporting complex is a lot to take in visually. This afternoon, the media was allowed onto the site for a walk through of the ongoing development and we‘ve seen at first look is quite impressive.
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles, International Environments
“We have the building set for handing over, substantial completion in September, sometime in late September. We were given two years to execute this work from pen to paper, to finished turnkey completion by December of this year. We are, in this current time, ahead of schedule by three months and we hope to have the building done by the end of September.”
Once completed, the multipurpose facility will be able to comfortably accommodate up to four thousand, five hundred occupants with individual seating. The prominent feature inside this vast steel frame and concrete structure is a FIBA certified basketball court which is being configured for adaptability.
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles
“As design build, which encompasses the concept of designing with the intent to meet a budget and throughout the design process we had to and accomplished getting all the requirements under the program given to us by our client, to house in this facility everything and a little more because of design efficiencies. And in doing so, we have, being the architect and contractors together, we are able to mitigate the efficiencies that comes with design versus new bidding processes and unforeseen. So in this project in particular, there was little to no unforeseen because of the design intent that we had from the vision from the start.”
That vision also includes being able to use this massive construction as somewhat of a doomsday shelter for emergency management personnel in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster.
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles
“We were able to accomplish a building that is designed to withstand earthquake seismic activity in this region, hurricanes up to a category five and encapsulate most of all the accessories that is needed to run an operation like this, meaning the business factor. The building has to be operated and designed in a manner that it will foster business, and in doing so we added anchor tenancy opportunities, micro business opportunities and in and outside the building opportunities so that the generation of business can make this project work.”
At peak usage, approximately three hundred and forty-five thousand dollars is needed to cover electricity expenses, therefore the venue would have to be utilized at least once or twice a month. By doing so the operational costs of maintaining the building would also be covered. For that idea to become a reality, the new city center has to be ran as a private business.
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles
“In my opinion, yes. And for the sole purposes that a business owner, manager or a company of some type of public/private partnership or some equation of that kind of business model is necessary to run this building for it to function under the standards that we had designed or intended for it to operate. So yes, in my opinion, it would be the best case scenario. It is not the only scenario but it is the preferred or recommended scenario.”
With a hefty price tag to boot, many believe that construction of the building has significantly exceeded government’s budget. According to Daniel Arguelles, the project is well within the thirty-two million dollar outlay.
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles
“We are currently at and within budget and we project that we will remain within budget up until handing over in the total amount of thirty-two million. With that thirty-two million, the building occupies or can be or serves about three purposes: hurricane shelter, a multifaceted entertainment facility, it can host concerts, boxing, entertainment type venues, conventions and of course basketball, volleyball, sporting venues.”
City Center Will Double as Emergency Management Shelter
The most expensive public building in the country is located on Central American Boulevard, across from Belize Water Services. On a tour on Wednesday, the media was shown the impressive state-of-the-art facility that can accommodate as many as four thousand five hundred persons seated, but can hold up to five thousand. The Belize City Center may not be ready for use as a refuge before the end of the hurricane season in November, but once completed the structure will serve as a shelter for emergency management personnel. The idea is that the building would be transformed into a nerve center for disaster relief operations. With all the necessary features added into the design and construction of the edifice, the newly built complex should only be made available to a maximum of two thousand occupants during a major natural disaster.
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles, International Environments
“The building is designed to act as or double as a hurricane shelter, meaning that although we can fit up to five thousand people seated or standing in the building, we have created a manual to turn over to the potential owner of the building or management team of the building that no more than two thousand occupants should occupy the building during the event of a hurricane. And that is simply for the fact that although we have ninety thousand gallons of water, twenty thousand gallons backup plan in the roof, the use of the building should be there to assist in the ultimate last resort in the event that say Belize City should be evacuated. The people that would be holding down the fort in Belize City, it’s reserved for them to man the fort, so to speak, while at the last minute they can still function and operate emergency services from this shelter. It is large enough to sustain two thousand people for at least a week. We have a backup generator system that can sustain that time, we have a potable water system that can sustain that time as well. So, done right again, partnered with a private company, partnered with CEMO or NEMO or the relief systems it can serve a very, very good purpose.”
The building, according to International Environments, will be completed and turned over to government by the end of September 2017.
Last week, we took you inside the Civic Center - to see the very decked out interior of the most expensive public or private structure ever built in Belize. And while ti will serve as a sports facility and concert venue, it's also a hurricane shelter. But, as the designer explained off camera - its not necessarily meant to serve as a shelter for regular folks running from the storm. Here's how he put it:...
Voice of: Daniel Arguelles, ARCHITECT - I.E. "No more than two thousand occupants should occupy the building during the event of a hurricane - and that is simple for the fact that although we have 90,000 gallons of water, 20,000 gallons back up plan water in the roof. The use of the building should be there to assist in the ultimate last resort in the event that they say Belize City should be evacuated. The people that will be holding down the fort in the city, it's reserved for them to man the fort, so to speak, while at the last minute they can still function and operate emergency services from this shelter. It is large enough to sustain two thousand people for at least a week, we have a backup generator system that can sustain that time, and we have potable water 47:30 system that can sustain that time as well."
Water levels would have to rise by 15 feet to compromise the 90 thousand gallon cistern.
Today, Christy Maestre, General Manager of Belize Infrastructure Ltd., took the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture Hon. Patrick Faber, NSC Director Ian Jones, two other NSC Reps, and Representatives from the Belize Basketball and Volleyball Federations on a tour of the Belize City Centre (Civic Centre).
Upon completion, the sporting arena will house a parking lot, outdoor courts, docking area, ticket area, concession stands, inside court with seating capacity of 4500, bathroom facilities, changing rooms & shower areas for teams, and office space, among other things.
Works are still ongoing but here's a look inside:
Click photos for more pictures!
#526449 - 10/18/1706:24 AMRe: Belize Civic Centre Sports Complex going up
The Belize Civic Center is nearing completion. It is projected, according to contractors International Environments Limited, to cost thirty-two million dollars under the Belize Infrastructure Limited, but widespread reports are that far more than that is being spent. That special-purpose vehicle of the Government of Belize has contracted to build multiple sports stadia across Belize with funding provided through Petrocaribe. But few believe that a building the size and magnitude of the monument on Central American Boulevard could cost that much without someone creaming off the top. Long-standing engineer and contractor Rufus X thought he had hit on the answer when he paid a visit a few weeks ago, and recounted the story at Monday’s press briefing.
Rufus X, Member, COLA
“I still think we’re a day late and a dollar short, because just before I leave this country, the other day I went to the Civic auditorium and I was hacking at one of the metal columns, and a guy came up to me and asked me what the hell I‘m doing. I said well I’m a citizen here, and thirty-odd million dollars, this tells me it has to be twenty-four karat gold. (Laughs) That’s something we should have been questioning for a long time. What building in the world, in Belize, could cost thirty-odd million dollars?”
Today, the media also asked Sports Minister Patrick Faber about the Civic.
As you just heard, there are concerns about who will manage it, and who will get to use it, and at what cost. He said that once the Civic is officially opened, BIL and the contractors will have an open day where all will be illuminated:
Hon. Patrick Faber - DPM/ Minister of Education "Because of the buzz on the social media about the cost of the Belize Civic Center, we will do an open day. We will announce the date of that shortly, and we will invite anybody who is concerned - and when I say anybody, that means anybody who wants to come - to special day that we will set aside, and we will do hourly tours and explain. But, we will hold a special briefing by the BIL officials, and also the engineers, the contractors, to explain just as much as in layman's terms as possible, why it is that the Center is costing what it is costing. And so that Belizeans can see for themselves, what is in it, which we are sure of in our minds, is value for money. We will also at that time try to share with the Belizean population as best as we can, why we feel there is the need for a management company take on the running - the day to day running - of the Belize Civic Center."
"People have seen a major amount of money being invested in that Civic center, and you know how we are. Sometimes, we don't take the best care of things, and we often see monies that are invested like that go down the drain, or we see that we have to come back in short order to fix things all over again. So, it's out of an abundance of trying to ensure the sustainability of the Civic Center."
"I want to assure Belizeans though that the Government and BIL is doing its best that the sporting disciplines of volleyball and basketball know that that facility is for them for national play, and international play as well. And we want to ensure as well that the Belizean population understands that the social uses of the facility will be guaranteed with any kind of management company that we engage with."
The contractors had promised a completion date for the civic in September - but now it looks more like December - which is when it was promised to be completed from the outset.
New Management Will Make Civic “World-Class” for Entertainment
So when will the much anticipated and controversial Civic Center be completed? There were reports it was supposed to have been done in October, but Co-Chair of BIL Patrick Faber told the media on Thursday that it is almost at completion and should be done by December, which was the original date set for completion. But that date is different from the opening date. Faber says that BIL is already looking at management companies and will be meeting to review all bids submitted for the management of the Civic. According to Faber, the local Sports Council is not able to manage the facility because the Government wants to see it become more than just a venue to host small local events; they want to raise it to generate income. Here’s what he had to say about the bidding process for the management of the new civic.
Patrick Faber, Co-Chair, BIL
“I feel that they are close to completion, but at any rate, I don’t feel that December will pass without it being handed over. But when in terms of the timeline it is going to be open is another question. In fact we want to be sure that we get the management company on stream. The process of selecting that company is what we are undergoing. We will receive the final bids I think it is Monday, December fourth or fifth and then there will be an evaluation of those bids. I will be present on those evaluation meetings myself so I am going to ensure that we get what is needed for the Belizean people in terms of their involvement and usage despite the fact that there is a management company and we are going to try and be as transparent as possible. The argument of course that some have I have listened – they have said why the sports council itself can’t manage the facility. People must understand that there are a number of factors involved why we need the management company. One is the proper maintenance of the facility is going to be very costly and we must generate income. It can’t be that it is a free for all – everybody come; as you know we are capable of in this country; anybody who doesn’t admit that they are just not being honest. What we want is some entity that will also generate income and the national sports council – with all due respect to everybody there, you know I am the Minister and I would never run down one of my own arms; but we want an entity that can attract the business. These management companies are engage in entertainment all over the world and I remember speaking to one individual who was interested – I am not sure of that company eventually put in its submission – that company promoted the Mayweather fights and they are looking to bring business to Belize and money to Belize. And that is what we need. We are not just going to rely on NEBL games and a concert here and there – that is not going to sustain managing and maintaining a facility like that.”
Answers Coming on BIL and Civic
Co-Chair of Belize Infrastructure Limited, Patrick Faber, says that he has not seen any letter from Leader of the Opposition John Briceño where he requested information about contracts put to tender by BIL. Briceño had called for details on the contracts awarded, costs and other matters surrounding works associated with the special purpose vehicle created by G.O.B. for major construction works. Well, Faber says that all that information will be available on BIL’s website and that Briceño, like any other member of the public interested in knowing the details of projects under its supervision, can get it from there. But while everything will be available online, BIL will be hosting an open day where the engineers and BIL Board Members will be giving full disclosure on the civic.
Patrick Faber, Co-Chair, BIL
“I have not seen a copy of the letter officially from Mister Briceño. As I have said on my Facebook page, I believe that it is a ploy on his part but there are numerous ways in which Mister Briceño can get the questions answered if he so desires. I am informed by the managing director of BIL, Miss Mastry, that the BIL website is in the process of updating and much of the information that he is seeking will be there. I also know as well that if he wants a proper answer to the question he can ask it as a part of questions to Ministers in the House which he ought to have done. But until I get an official copy of his request, I don’t feel obliged to answer. I have said as it relates to the Belize City Center, as Co-Chair of BIL, I have asked the BIL folks to ensure that there is an open day that we will ask the engineers, the BIL board members and everybody else to give full disclosure as to what everything is costing and as to why the Civic Center needs to undergo the kind of management contractors that we are seeking; that we will do pretty shortly and we will announce the date when it will be done. I think it is early December; I just need to confirm the date.”
The new Civic Center on Central American Boulevard is scheduled to be launched this Wednesday, two years and three months after the old facility was broken down to make way for the new state-of-the-art facility. The government says that the price tag is thirty-two million dollars, but in other sectors, it is said that that figure has been busted. But even as the last minute touching up was taking place, a vehicle crashed into the fence on Monday night causing damage to the wall. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Final preparations for the official launch of the newly reconstructed Civic Center wrapped up this evening, ahead of a ceremony to be held on Wednesday in Belize City. But while keen attention was being paid to minute details on the ground, a team of masons was busy plastering several rows of concrete blocks into the barrier at the front of the compound facing Central American Boulevard. That’s because a grey vehicle, bearing license plate numbers C-47966, slammed into the low-slung wall on Monday night, after swerving onto the sidewalk at considerable speed. The impact of the collision crumbled the fence and sent the car into the grassy area nearby, its front extensively damaged. News Five understands that the driver of the vehicle, a resident of Mopan Street, came out of the crash unscathed. The accident is reminiscent of a similar crash earlier this year when a vehicle smashed into the guardrail on the southern approach of the Chetumal Street Bridge. That incident, along with the most recent pileup, continues to raise questions about charges, as well as cost of damages being levied upon motorists who destroy public property in such manner. According to police, once the driver of the vehicle has been charged for the traffic offense, the respective insurance company is then responsible to cover the cost of damages. In this case it is unclear what the cost of repair is. What we do know is that the matter was dealt with expeditiously, just before Wednesday’s inauguration. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.