‘Explore’ Oval’s investment potential

Barbadians must stop being “meek and mild and peaceful and polite” if they want their country to really reap the financial sweets from investments made in preparation for hosting International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cups (CWCs).

Central to this effort should be fully exploiting the benefit of the millions of dollars invested in the “iconic” Kensington Oval, says Chris de Caires, who chaired Cricket World Cup Barbados Inc., the local organising committee of CWC 2007.

The business executive, who has chaired the Barbados Private Sector Association and the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc., believed Barbados had been “too laid back” in seeking to make the most of Government’s estimated near $160 million investment in the redevelopment of Kensington Oval for CWC 2007.

With the current administration having borrowed $50 million from the African Export-Import Bank to renovate Kensington Oval before CWC T20 2024 in June, de Caires said: “Hopefully, now that we are on this track of the second or third major event there, we can see it as something that we need to promote on a more positive basis going forward.”

Kensington Oval is iconic, the investment that was put into it was very significant back in 2007 and it’s nice to see them refreshing it because a stadium like that does cost money to maintain. It is a first-class stadium, but we have used it for events that are perhaps not as major as we would have liked to make it really pay for itself,” he stated.

“If there is one area that we tend to lack in the Caribbean, it is the marketing of what we have. In terms of promoting it and using it to its full extent, we tend to be a little bit more laid back than we perhaps should be in terms of getting the most out of our investments. It does take a lot of energy and a lot of running around and, to some extent, our culture is not one of self-promotion, which is part of the issue.”

His observation was that “we want to be meek and mild and peaceful and polite. That is a response you often get, but we need to be a little bit more proactive in going off to big events to get them here, which usually means you have to promise things that you don’t always know how to deliver, but we need to get the confidence to be able to do that so that [Kensington Oval] can be used to full effect”.

He believed that Barbados benefited economically when it hosted CWC 2007, including via increased tourist arrivals, and the fact that some businesses had their best years financially in 2007.

The then Barbados Tourism Authority also estimated that Barbados had international exposure worth about US$225 million because about two billion people around the globe watched the games. De Caires also pointed out that Barbados was better prepared for major disasters and mass casualty events.

In addition to having a world-class stadium in Kensington Oval, one legacy he saw from CWC 2007 was that “we have demonstrated our capability to host a big event like that, so that gives us the credibility to go and do others”.

However, like Peter Boos, former chairman of Legacy Barbados Inc., de Caires said regarding the CWC 2007 legacy project that the country “is not completely structured along lines to get things done. We have a bit of an implementation deficit disorder; we like to speak about things, but we don’t always deliver on them”.

“So we understand legacy but we sometimes are a bit lazy in its implementation.

“The jury will always be out as to whether the amount of the investment made paid back for itself. I feel the country got a fair amount back that I feel it was justified, but everybody will interpret it differently,” de Caires said.

He also believed that Barbados had the know-how needed to make CWC 2024 a success.

“I feel Barbados has a pretty good infrastructure to handle big events, I think we have demonstrated this previously in a number of different ways. We have, I think, pretty good leadership at the Government level and the people on the ground in terms of hosting it have good experience,” he noted.

“Several of the people who were involved with the 2007 World Cup at the senior management level are involved in this one so I feel extremely comfortable. And I listened to the news the other day and understood from Cricket West Indies that they are very happy with what’s being done and that we are ahead of schedule.

“So all of those things make me feel that we will deliver. Maybe it is because I have seen a little bit of the work behind the scenes from previous occasions that I feel supremely confident that we will host a good event and that it will be to the benefit of us all in Barbados,” de Caires said.

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