Sports Minister Brent Sancho says he was unaware that a concert booking accepted by the facilities management unit at the Hasely Crawford Stadium (HCS) in Woodbrook forced officials of the National Association of Athletics Administration (NAAA) to reschedule its calendar of championship events originally scheduled to start last weekend.
Redemption II was the name of the concert held at the popular sporting facility which reportedly scuppered pre-planned activities by the national sporting body.
The NGC/NAAA Junior Championships was advertised to take place on May 30.
Sancho told the T&T Guardian he was unaware of any such development and expressed surprise, citing that the NAAA executive didn’t not contact him, at least, in an effort to intervene.
The NAAA issued a media release on May 18, which stated the HCS Grounds was no longer available for its planned meet last Saturday.
A social media firestorm consequently erupted with opponents for and against the staging of the concert. Many wanted to know if the HCS was a dedicated sporting facility or a concert hall.
This, citing that national track and field meets were taking place in preparation for international event such as the Pan Am Games, World Championships scheduled to take place over the next two months.
Track and field events affected owing to the concert booking included the NGC/NAAA Junior Championships; NGC/NAAA Juvenile Championships and the NGC/NAAA Combined Events Championships, together with the Falcons Invitational. All were reportedly pushed back by one week.
These events will take place this June along with the Sagicor/NGC Open Championships on the weekend of 26-28.
Contacted, Ephraim Serrette, president of the NAAA said this was not the first time the NAAA calendar of events was overlooked by the Stadium management for a non-sport related activity.
“Last year, we used the football tunnel as the call room and warm up centre for the athletes. Track and field is an event that takes place inside and outside. Somehow, someone of the Stadium management team does not recognise that. It’s a little difficult for the athletes because of that. We appreciate that we do not have to pay for use of the Stadium and these events (concerts) are the events that people pay for use of the Stadium,” he said.
Serrette added, “We plan very early. We always do. We want to work with everyone, but they have to understand that track and field is inside and outside the Stadium. We book it (the Stadium) at the end of September early October every year. Track and field doesn’t win administration of the year by guess. Track and field didn’t get $12 million from a sponsor (NGC) for three years, by guess.”