ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) could very soon have control of the country’s most historic sporting venue, Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG).
This is according to President Everton “Batow” Gonsalves who revealed this week that the FA is currently awaiting approval of a lease that could give the football fraternity ownership of the facility for no less than a 25-year period.
The move, he explained, is a required condition to FIFA, giving approval for the removing of the lights currently located at the Paynters facility.
“We are just about days away from getting formal control in terms of a long term lease of the ARG and we are a practical association,” Gonsalves said.
“The requirements for the lights at the ARG are immediately to host the CFU Championships and also to improve the lighting for our most prestigious tournament which is the Premier League, and as such, the Paynters ground will be going through a restructuring period where the natural grass, and people know that because of what was done to the area in terms of the removal of the top soil only scruffy cucumbers grow up there naturally, so natural grass would never be able to grow up there. So a synthetic turf will be placed there in the interim.”
Plans are to have the sophisticated lights moved to ARG within the next five to six weeks in hopes of accommodating the hosting of the CFU Caribbean Cup.
This, according to General Secretary Gordon “Banks” Derrick, is on course.
“APUA has come on board and they have done the initial cite inspections for us. We had asked them to do the technical drawings for us as it pertains to the ARG and they have just pretty much finished that now, so we are in full contact with the suppliers in the States, in Moscow. Lighting; so yes, it is tight but we are still trying to do our utmost to try and get them in time for the Caribbean Cup,” he said.
“The way the lights are done at Paynters allows for what we are doing. They are actually modulated. So at Paynters you have a concrete base and they actually slip off the concrete base so we are bringing in four new concrete bases for the Recreation Grounds. The ones at Paynters will remain,” Derrick added.
The CFU finals are slated to commence the first week in December with matches scheduled for both ARG and Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds.
Antigua & Barbuda, by virtue of being hosts, gained automatic qualification for the final round here.