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Warriors face Hasely Crawford restrictions; Plus why landmark stadium needs urgent help

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team’s technical staff was understood to be upset today after the Soca Warriors were forced to shift a practice game from the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain and handed restrictions for their use of the venue before Friday’s crucial Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying fixture against Guatemala.

The Warriors will play a scrimmage match with Defence Force at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar instead, this evening. And coach Stephen Hart has been advised that the Hasely Crawford Stadium is unable to accommodate his request for twice daily training sessions on the match venue.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart juggles a football during practice before his team's 2016 Copa America play off contest against Haiti. (Copyright AFP 2016)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart juggles a football during practice before his team’s 2016 Copa America play off contest against Haiti.
(Copyright AFP 2016)

Facility manager Anthony Blake said the heavy weather has forced grounds staff to take extra care of the football surface and insisted that they always try their best to give the host team every possible advantage.

“We are giving them one session [per day on the] inside [field] and one session outside [on the training ground],” Blake told Wired868, “because of the amount of rainfall which is causing the field to mash up badly.

“The match commissioner is insisting that teams should only get one training session on the field for one hour. Normally, we bend the rules to give Trinidad an advantage but, once the field maintenance people realise the field is tearing up, we have to judge on that.”

KFC Munch Pack

FIFA rules insist that the visiting team must get a minimum of 45 minutes practice at the match venue on the eve of a fixture. However, there is no stipulated cap on how often either team can train there.

Blake explained that it was a matter or practicality. The Guatemala team had received free rein at the Larry Gomes Stadium for the week, which has a similar surface to the Hasely Crawford. But the Warriors, according to Blake, will get priority over their Central American guests.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans react to action during their team's goalless draw with the United States yesterday in 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans react to action during their team’s goalless draw with the United States yesterday in 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“[Hart] wants two sessions per day but the [Hasely Crawford Stadium] field can’t take that licks,” said Blake. “If we did that, we won’t have a field by Friday. So, we will move Guatemala and give Trinidad the Larry Gomes [Stadium] which has the same Bermuda grass whereas the Ato Boldon [Stadium] has savannah grass…

“The Larry Gomes and Mannie Ramjohn stadia were done over recently so they have the best fields. The Ato Boldon ground is the only one with savannah grass.”

The Hasely Crawford Stadium’s problems go well beyond the surface of the football field. On 12 June, the venue celebrated its 34th anniversary and, according to Blake, there has never been a major upgrade since then Prime Minister George Chambers declared the 23,000 seater stadium open in 1982.

The changes in west Port of Spain since then—from the destruction of the mangrove and construction of Movie Towne to the erection of high rise buildings like One Woodbrook Place—have had an impact on the venue.

And taxpayers are now likely to be handed a significantly mushroomed bill to address the problems created by those private sector projects.

Photo: One Woodbrook Place. (Copyright Tucker Real Estate)
Photo: One Woodbrook Place.
(Copyright Tucker Real Estate)

“The recommendation from the consultant [who assessed the stadium] is that it would be cheaper to build something new than to refurbish the stadium,” said Blake. “The stadium is built on reclaimed land and since the construction of places like One Woodbrook Place, you have a higher displacement of water coming from uptown which comes downtown.

“When it rains in Port of Spain, Hamilton Holder Street and the Woodbrook Youth Facility floods and Wrightson Road floods. And all the water eventually gathers at the stadium because it is lower than the surrounding land…

“When they did the assessment in 1970s before they started building the National Stadium, there wasn’t as much construction with Movie Towne and so on… Now, we have to either move the stadium or lift it by several feet to stop it from being a retention pond.

“Or we have to fix the drainage in the area from as far as [Nelson Mandela] Park. Once that doesn’t happen, water will continue to move towards the low point which is the stadium.”

Earlier this year, the Jamaica government pledged its commitment to refurbish its own National Stadium in Kingston at a cost of US$60 million. That will take its 50-year-old stadium from a 35,000 seater to at least 45,000.

Photo: The Port of Spain National Stadium on 19 November 1989 during World Cup qualifying action between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.
Photo: The Port of Spain National Stadium on 19 November 1989 during World Cup qualifying action between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

Blake refused to name the price given to upgrade the Port of Spain landmark venue. But, due to the complex issues, it is believed to be in the same price range, although being half the size.

In the meantime, Blake and his staff will continue to do all they can to keep the venue up to international standard.

For Trinidad and Tobago’s last two World Cup qualifiers against the United States and St Vincent and the Grenadines, there were embarrassing power outages, which forced kick off to be postponed.

The facility staff will do all they can to avoid a repeat of that fiasco. But there can be no guarantee.

“It is not the lights but the breakers that are the problem,” said Blake. “We still have the same plumbing and electrical infrastructure as the 1970s… So we have to run our generators through the same old breakers and, in the last game, one of the main breakers failed.

“We had technicians from TTEC and stadium technicians who were able to troubleshoot and fix the problem in a few minutes. But it is not like a light switch at your home and it takes time to cool down, power up and restart…

“We will have a long test today and on Thursday when we will run the system for six hours just to see if there is any failure. We will do a loading test and check the amperage of the breaker and the heat of the breaker to see if there is any sign of imminent failure.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans wait in the darkness before kick off against St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 29 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 6-0. (Courtesy: Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans wait in the darkness before kick off against St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 29 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 6-0.
(Courtesy: Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

“We have had the NAAA Athletics Championship and a number of events without any failure but you cannot really predict breaker failure. That was just Murphy’s Law. Based on the age of the system and the serviceable life of these parts, it needs to be gutted out and done over.”

If sport in Trinidad and Tobago is in urgent need of far-reaching renovation, then the national venue appears to be no different.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. Lol @ Gordon Pierre. Yuh never know what yuh got until it’s gone!

  2. Kevin Harrison tell Brent Sancho i sorry after this fool call shith i want u all back yes pack of crap!!

  3. And two hotels- one a dormitory style for visiting athletes, the other a 3or 4 star for visiting teams and match officials! Then stick in a gas station and a small mall with fast food outlets and it will be a real hub in central. The hotels would also help parents of children at the nearby hospital.

  4. I honestly think the best way forward is to make that Couva area with the National Cycling Centre/Aquatic Centre the home of Sport in T&T. The Ato Boldon Stadium can be used for Track and Field development and the pitch can be used for Pro League and Intercol so it gets usage. Build a Football specific stadium around that area..stands close to the pitch to give it that modern Stadium look. The national Cricket centre can be redone with new stands , pitch and facilities.

    Make it the home of Sport !

  5. Tell me was flooding taking pace prior to One Woodbrook place being built.? this is when developers have friends in high places to do as
    they want

  6. Why we blaming any government for this. We need to blame the engineers and the planners. And town and country planners of both regional and national level may have failed us. Maybe they should

  7. wasting Tax Payers money….another $90 millions PNM feeding frenzy….

  8. I understand the stadium has a problem with flooding. It’s the idea the one Woodbrook etc has a direct connection. My understanding is that the necessary public infrastructure was not put in place in the city which is a public issue, not a private one.

    • So you think construction within the area had zero effect on the ecological balance of its environs? I’m not convinced by your argument to be honest.

    • It shouldn’t. Private property owners have the responsibility to channel drain water to the point specified by the government guidelines. It’s the gov job to channel that water safely out of the city.
      Hundreds of building are placed in tighter spaces in other cities without affecting their environs, so it is possible to increase density without this kind of problem.

    • Well that doesn’t contradict what the facility manager said. He specifically said the drainage in the area needs to be fixed.
      I fully agree that a Govt agency must have messed up along the way. But I won’t give the private sector a free pass.
      Experience tells me that State incompetence that benefits private sector interests tends not to happen by chance.

    • That’s where my issue is. As the public, we a frustrated at the system and that is understandable, but we throw blame out on places like FB like a shotgun. Whoever gets hit, gets hit and that isn’t the best way to solve any problem. Based on this issue I don’t see how the private sector is to blame except that ‘big business’ is an easy target and they must be involved somehow.

  9. Well that is what the facility manager said after talking with a consultant. What is your belief?

  10. Martin John hot and cold boi. …..lol

  11. I don’t think it (water displacement theory)works that way at all. Is that a feeling it did an engineer state that?

  12. The necessary remedial works to effectively solve the problem seem both time consuming and expensive. Here we go again. Off to another round of bids, contracts and comess. ….errr construction.

  13. On a very real note Brent Sancho did more for sport in six months than Darryl Smith have done in a year!! I know u crying broken but no policies have been forth coming no programs, not major stakeholders meetings to propel sport forward only a set of airy fairy nonsense and photo opps!! Where is d policy on stadium use, management up keep we open three world class facilities if i want a Sunday sweat i could use d basketball court at d couva velodrome? Or a Sunday swimming at d aquatic center? How we going to make then self sufficient? Any naming rights? Concessions? Personally me ain’t to like Sancho but these were the type of things we were hearing from him and his side kick Kevin Harrison. Lasana Liburd i find u giving Smith a pass eh!!

  14. Wait wait where were all the planners and engineers and all those guys with alphabets after their names and the intelligentsia from UWI. I am having less and less respect for the leaders in this country and that makes me so sad.

  15. There is no law that says the main National Stadium should be in POS..just saying

  16. It would be a big Blow to Sport Tourism if the Match on Friday were to be hampered due to Rain after the Embarrassment we encountered at the QPO recently, Big Big Blow!!

    LasanaLiburd where is the Investigative Article on the Travesty that transpired at the QPO?

  17. I have to laugh here yes, see people only complain when it affect them. I’m sure this problem has been around for ages and the management of the facility didn’t think it wise to devise a maintenance/upgrade budget over the years? But the bigger problem is the pitch itself, when all those planning permissions were being granted, if at all, no one bothered to object? But we have the same thing going on throughout the country, so let me hush

  18. We have a weak history of maintaining in our country for one thing whether cultural or not we wait until it is beyond repair to do anything. Secondly this highlight our lack of land distribution and usage the caretaker highlighted that the development of movietowne and other areas created or compounded a problem. We need strong decisions from parliament level to say no to filthy (or greedy) business men local and foreign to protect our land, sea and water and of course historical sites and culture. I agree with Vernal the stadium has monetary value and also historical value. If managed properly even can be a tourist attraction.

  19. Them sports management programmes jokey yes.
    event management.
    tourism management.
    stand-up comedy

  20. I does wonder where all the graduates UWI and UTT rolling out with Sport Management masters and bachelors…like we only hiring friends and family. Smh

  21. Lord, please don’t let it rain on Friday…

  22. It’s more than protecting our heritage Lasana, the stadium has a monetary value as well.

    • It is disheartening to hear that private sector business negatively impacted on our national stadium. At least that damage should have been considered when we were granting them their construction permits.

    • And who’s fault is that, did they not know that this would happen and if not how come.
      Somebody effed up royally, but as is always the case in the Banana the more authority one is given the less accountable one automatically becomes!

    • Vernal, ministry of works, ministry of planning, ema… Take your pick.
      I always said a Trini would vote for extinction next week if he could make a dollar this week.
      Although that is probably true of the parasitic oligarchy everywhere. We just have s system that rewards such thinking.

  23. HCS has no parking, is aging, has no scoreboard, has no sideboard contracts, no naming rights contracts, had (last time i checked was 2001) an exclusive pouring rights contract with Carib for the venue that cannot possibly be anything worthwhile…Smitty has to make some bold moves if he wanna move the pieces down the board.
    He say he ain wanna build nothing while Minister. Great. Put some BASIC rights into gear: get the NSOs to have a joint management LLC to manage the facilites that they use: Manny, Ato, Gomes, HCS and negotiate some major franchises and bring in some TV.
    negotiate a sideboard+big screen contracts with a company like Big Board and Flow Sports for a 10 years and let MoS be liable ONLY for the maintenance contract.
    Natasha Nunez tell Smitty give meh ah wok and let’s see if this plan can be any worse than what is currently in place.

  24. Shades of 1990! Remember Gally’s claim that the Stadium management refused to cooperate with the Strike Squad team management and give them the underfoot conditions they requested.

    Anthony Blake is likely to have his heart in the right place – he’s making the right noises, IMO – but once bitten twice shy so I’m not swearing for anybody, QRC boy though he is.

  25. If we intend to have one Main Footballing Facility for International Matches? We need to have it at a More Central Venue!!!

    South People want to see the National Team Play too!!

    One of the Reason I can’t wait for the Taruba Stadium to Open, I’ve inconvenience Myself on to many occasions to attend Matches at QPO only to be told it don’t even have Parking in or around the Oval……

  26. To move it will be heartbreaking. But we will have to make a financial decision sooner or later.

  27. It needs to be broken down and rebuilt. Simple. Is whether the users could stomach the wait. Which will be some years well. Yuh know how some people cyah leave town for nothing!

  28. We are a Reactive and Shortsighted People by Nature ??
    Why think about the Flooding before Granting Permits for Construction on the Hills that Surround Port of Spain when the Permits itself could bring in a couple Hundred Thousand $$$?? Grant the Permits then Spend Millions to Try and Alleviate the Floods ????

    Creating Employment?? Lol

  29. HCS is a dinosaur.
    that is a FACT.
    many public sports facilities have had major facelifts since the birth of the HCS; nearly all MLB facilities, nearly all EPL…list goes on.
    problem here is the over-reliance on GoTT funds. We need—absolutely NEEEED—to privatise our facilities.

  30. Even if they did they have to upgrade the infrastructure to mitigate against the effect of those developments

  31. Afra, I would love your take on the construction side here. Particularly with regards to the changes made in west Port of Spain.

  32. But has the govt created a rod for its own back with the construction permits granted in the surrounding area?

  33. As usual…..everything trumps sports and culture

  34. Another facility not being properly maintained

  35. Stephen John and Vernal Damion Cadogan, we were just discussing protecting our heritage. Lemme know what allyuh think of this financial dilemma that we will be facing soon.

  36. But We spending money on Brian Lara stadium.