Construction of ‘Football Stadium’ tipped to start in early 2022
By Akeem Greene
In February 2019, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government, paving the way for the construction of artificial surfaces, west of the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown.
Speaking to News Room Sport in an exclusive interview on Saturday, GFF President Wayne Forde, indicated he hopes they can begin construction by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Forde indicated they can only begin construction of the facility until they meet further checklists by FIFA for the National Training Facility at Providence. However, in the interim, they will start land clearing and the development of the engineering concept.
“The actual construction of the facility is going to take place at the end of the first quarter of 2022 I believe because by then we will probably have the lighting up here at Providence, the dorms will be fully functional, the gym will be activated [and] all of the facilities that are considered necessary for the venue to be deemed a functioning technical centre will be in place,” Forde expressed.
The GFF President felt the facility might not be to the magnitude of modern football stadiums, but it will be a quality facility that can host international matches and have a capacity of approximately 10,000 to 12,000.
It will be first for Guyana as the National Stadium, Providence, which was built primarily for cricket in 2006, and the National Track and Field Facility, Leonora, are the only two venues which have hosted the bulk of international football in recent years.
“We want to use that space to develop the best possible international facility. Saying Football Stadium would be a stretch, but I think we can develop a venue that can easily put 10 to 12,000 persons in the venue at any one time.”
Forde highlighted the Homestretch Avenue/Hadfield Street corridor gives rise to space for parking and he believes they will still have enough space to develop a practice pitch and two mini-pitches for community usage.
In April 2019, Concacaf Project Director, Howard McIntosh visited the site and he identified Infrastructure and Partnerships as two critical areas that could catapult Guyana’s development as a football nation.
For that infrastructure to develop, it could come at a cost at no less than US$6 million (GY$1.2 billion), according to Forde. In the financing process, the GFF is engaging commercial partners to allow for commercial spaces within the design that will add a “significant revenue generation component.”
“Building these things is one thing but sustaining them, maintaining them is another challenge and we want to ensure a lot of thought is given to that before we actually start getting into the actual construction,” Forde underscored.
The GFF Head was confident that the Government will continue its support given that football was listed as a Core Sport by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, and because this massive undertaking has long-term benefits.
“Given the significance of that project to Guyana and not just to football, we will see in some way the Government contributing to the project. I am sure they would be happy to come on board and give that extra boost that all governments across the region have been doing.”
Forde added, “No sporting organisation, and despite the resources football has at its disposal, can singlehandedly change the infrastructure landscape in any meaningful way…we will never have resources that can match what a Government can bring.”
The Durban Park Football Complex, which the Federation acquired on a 25-year lease, will house an international quality football-sized pitch, two mini-pitches, and a new headquarters for the Guyana Football Federation.