Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced that the new National Stadium, which will be built on the same site at Waterford, St Michael, will have a capacity of 10 000 seats.
Speaking in a press conference at Ilaro Court yesterday evening, Mottley said that the proposed stadium, which would be more than double the size of its predecessor, was long in coming.
“Barbados has long needed a National Stadium. The discussion for it took place from when we were last in Government (under Owen Arthur’s administration), through ten years of the last Government. We were ready initially with the Chinese, in fairness, up until 2019 when we started to have the discussions and then COVID-19 came and, of course, China shut down from the rest of the world, being the last of the world to open back up.”
Mottley expressed her delight that plans for the stadium could now move full steam ahead, with the various gap analyses, studies and assessments being done by the Town and Country Planning Development Office, once the form goes in as expected in the coming days.
Sitting alongside Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kerrie Symmonds and Minister of Sport Charles Griffith, Mottley shared the design for the new stadium with the room of journalists and the live broadcast.
She revealed that the team of Chinese designers, architects and engineers were inspired by some of the national symbols of Barbados including the flight of the flying fish, which will be the shape of the grand stand, as well as the arched colonnades which can be seen in the architecture of the Parliament Buildings and other structures in the World Heritage district in Bridgetown.
These will be incorporated into the aesthetic of the new stadium, while the roof will be influenced by the shape and texture of a sea shell. The designers also made sure that it aligned with Barbados’ mission economy.
Speaking on the new stadium the Prime Minister said: “This particular Phase 1 is significantly more than anything we would have had previously at the national stadium before. I think the stadium before had [a capacity of] 4 500.
“However, I have asked for those who continue after me, or if there is sufficient growth in the next few years, for us to also look at what a Phase 2 would look like if we were to build a second stand on the other side of the stadium. It would help with blocking the wind, but also accommodate a similar 10 000 or a proportionate number there too.”
The Prime Minister was keen to stress that the new stadium was a grant from China and not a loan.
“As you know, this is a grant to the people of Barbados that we have negotiated and not a loan. This is substantively appreciated because we are also financing so many other things that are crises which we have to deal with, so it would have been difficult to do this too. Therefore, we are grateful to the Government and the people of China for agreeing that this would be a major gift to the people and Government of Barbados.”
The National Stadium project is just one of several being discussed between Barbados and China with the two parties also having agreements on subject matters ranging from the Blue Economy to food security, transportation and healthcare. (JC)