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GRENADA - Cricket World Cup 2007

Date November 09, 2005 by HAYDN GILL

FORGET about Hurricane Ivan. Forget about Hurricane Emily too.

Grenada is determined to host its share of Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007.

The challenges facing the Spice Isle must be more than any of the other eight host venues against the background the devastation Ivan caused September last year and further damage by Emily ten months later.

Grenada had to start over from scratch.

The Queen's Park Stadium, opened in 1998, was completely destroyed and several hotels were extensively damaged.

It was a major setback for the island which had been awarded six Super Eight matches in the biggest event ever to be staged in the Caribbean.

Grenada, however, has started to get things back on track.

The local organising committee (LOC), headed by chief executive officer Roy O'Neale, is fully functional.

"After the major setback, we were delayed for at least three months before we could get ourselves back on our feet," O'Neale told MIDWEEK SPORT during Venue Summit VII at the Hilton Barbados last week.

"The government was determined to ensure that Cricket World Cup goes on in Grenada. The LOC quickly got back on its feet and we are working as well as we can. The committee structure is in place and most of the committees are well and truly functional.

"On the whole, we're going pretty well. We are assessed by ICC CWC from time to time. There are areas we have improved. Grenada will be ready for World Cup 2007."

A sod-turning ceremony in St George's last week Tuesday signalled the start

of the rebuilding of the Queen's Park Stadium.

A few weeks before, on September 29, Grenada signed a contract with Chinese contractors who already have about 40 representatives on the ground to get things going.

By year-end, it is expected that about 100 Chinese will be on location and the number is expected to peak to 300.

"Their work ethic is pretty well-known. We feel confident that they will deliver as promised," O'Neale said.

"Since there is a serious shortage of skilled labour in Grenada because of the reconstruction taking place after Hurricane Ivan, the Chinese are providing about 95 per cent of the workers who will be constructing the stadium.

"I gather they will be doing a minimum of two, possibly three shifts

a day."

The opportunity presents a chance to tidy up on a few shortcomings of the stadium that existed before Ivan.

Some fans often complained that the seats were not comfortable and other observers pointed to the fact that the main stand was square of the pitch.

"Ivan did Grenada a favour. The original design had to be scrapped," O'Neale said.

"We have a second chance to correct what was a fairly unsatisfactory first chance. A lot of people were critical of the design and seating and so on."

When completed, the stadium's capacity will be 17 000, a figure that will be maintained for the legacy capacity, which is not in keeping with most of the venues around the Caribbean which are undergoing upgrades for 2007.

At the sod-turning ceremony, Grenada's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell underlined his government's commitment to the staging of the World Cup.

"I see the start of Cricket World Cup 2007 in Grenada as a serious opportunity to promote to the perception that we are back for business and it is even better than before," he said.

Accommodation is another hurdle facing Grenada.

Hotel rooms stocks were significantly reduced after Ivan, but this is another instance where Grenada can improve.

"Like most countries, accommodation is probably our biggest challenge," O'Neale said.

"Our hotels which were probably two-star or three-star before have gone up at least one star.

"Quality has improved and in some cases, a number of rooms have been added."

Prior to Ivan, the hotel room count stood at about 2 000, and in an effort to get it just over that figure for 2007, a home-stay programme, which encourages locals to make their homes available to visitors, was recently launched.

The LOC also faced challenges in trying to rekindle interest among Grenadians after Ivan.

"Immediately after the hurricane, there was a decline in interest," O'Neale said.

"But once people started to get their lives back to normal and our public education, there has been an upsurge in enthusiasm."

Its public awareness campaign has been helped with regular radio appearances by the LOC's corporate communications manager Troy Garvey, along with visits to community areas.


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