Kensington Oval construction on track

Construction work at Kensington Oval is going smoothly as the venue is set to be ready in time to host its first fixture in the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup on June 2 when Namibia take on Oman.

That was the assessment from the chairman of the Kensington Oval Inc., Damien Gaskin, who was speaking at a press briefing held at Kensington Oval earlier today. The media were also treated to a tour of the facilities to see how construction was progressing in the three-phase project.

“We are preparing to host a World Cup which is going to be the biggest in the world to this point – twenty teams for the first time, but the changes should have a long lasting impact due to these upgrades around the facility,” Gaskin said.

Work began on the iconic ground back in November with Phase 1 consisting of infrastructural work being done on the Hewitt & Inniss and Greenidge & Haynes stands prior to England visiting the Caribbean for the white ball series and Phase 2 focusing on the other stands and players’ pavilion. Phase 1 is said to be approximately 80 or 90 per cent done with the installation of Wi-Fi, auditory devices and setting up Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) around the terrace left to be done as part of the significant upgrade.

Gaskin also announced that the lighting system and the screen will be changed: “The bases around the light towers are being reinforced. We are increasing the amount of LEDs to a minimum light standard and as a result, we have to increase the bases. By the middle of April you are going to see four light towers with LEDs installed and up. What used to be the big screen has been taken down and we’ve ordered a new high definition screen which is on its way. That should be here and installed by the first week of April.”

A secondary replay screen will be put between the Three W’s Stand and the Players Pavilion. There will also be temporary structures installed at the ground as part of the ICC mandates.

“One of the things you will see closer to the start of the tournament is the installation of temporary structures. We’re doing a long beach party stand in the east and behind that will be a temporary grandstand that will be separate from the party stand but will increase the overall capacity. Nowhere in the Caribbean can hold anything close to the 130 000 seater stadia in India for last year’s World Cup but part of the mandates when ICC were doing the tour of the facilities around the region was increasing the capacity. We’re bringing a temporary grandstand and a temporary hospitality structure that will go between the media centre and the scoreboard.”

The third and final phase is seen mostly as post-World Cup modifications to make the Oval a world class facility fitted out with the latest technology relating to performances, training and recovery.

The chairman said, “If we want to have a true multi-purpose facility then we should be able to have a concert on a Saturday and then cricket on a Wednesday without there being a negative impact on the surface so we’ll be bringing in field covering that would allow for such which would then increase our functionality and thus increase the utilisation of the Oval all year round hopefully.”

The construction work at the Oval as well as the three practice grounds has boosted local employment with 250 workers to make sure Barbados is ready for the T20 World Cup in June.

This year’s T20 World Cup final will be the second time that the Kensington Oval has hosted the final of that competition, with England running out victorious against Australia by seven wickets.

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