Brian Lara Cricket Academy is, quite literally, a monument to poor planning. The concept itself is not a bad one. It was meant to be a Government owned cricketing facility, which could earn revenue through its hosting of matches and other events. It is technically a central venue, with the possibility of much more parking opportunities than the current Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain. It seems though, that aside from some CPL matches, most of its revenue earning potential comes from fetes and other events. It is used for regional and domestic cricket, but ticket sales from that are very limited when compared to its earning potential, and what is made from other events.
The stadium’s inability to fulfil its full potential is down to one main factor: the lack of accreditation from the International Cricket Council. Because the ground is not approved by the ICC, it cannot host any match overseen by it. That essentially rules out international tours, and tournaments alike. The CPL isn’t overseen by the ICC, so it is able to make use of the venue. But why isn’t the ground ICC accredited? According to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley himself, it is because the stadium doesn’t meet certain infrastructural requirements. He admitted during a PNM public meeting this week that more work would be is required in order to get ICC approval.
This leads to a flood of questions. First of all, why was more than one billion dollars pumped into a stadium that can’t even host international matches? Which, by the way, are matches that the PM himself reportedly promised when the venue was opened in 2017. Also, exactly what more is needed and how much will that cost? And finally, did the Government know at the time of its completion that the stadium did not meet ICC standards?
This latest development stings even more when one considers that this sum of money was used for the stadium, in a time when Government Ministers insisted that things weren’t good financially. It means that valuable money was diverted to a project that is now operating and earning well below its full potential. Where’s the value for our money?