This column has spent much time in the recent past addressing the thorny issue of sports facilities in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The announcement of the government that it is prepared to spend over $20m on the expansion of the Arnos Vale cricket arena has come against the backdrop of two major issues of national concern. On the one hand there is the imminence of general elections and the fact that we have been granted a few warm matches as part of the Cricket World Cup 2007.
Imminent general elections
General elections drive some people almost crazy. The most excited, of course, are usually the politicians, especially those who are in government and seeking reelection, and this regardless of which political party is involved.
The current government came to office trumpeting its outstanding and historic commitment to sports. The manifestos, both the general one and the other that targeted the nation’s youths, boasted of this commitment and showered the electorate with promises regarding all that would be done for sport.
In retrospect, the nation has yet again been treated to lip service in respect of any genuine commitment to sport on the part of the government of the day.
The last budgetary estimates, for example, contained information suggesting an ongoing Libyan commitment to provide funding for the national stadium. The truth is that since having received the initial $1.5m US from the Libyans, there has not even been any discussion at the national level about any further financial inputs into this project from that particular source.
Sadly, the government of the day has grown almost deafeningly silent on the matter of the national stadium. However, I am willing to wager that during the elections campaign that has already begun we are sure to hear the same political party address this otherwise untenable situation.
General elections are around the corner and the campaign is heating up. Thus it is that we are hearing so much about the funding for the development of Arnos Vale.
Given the perception that cricket somehow remains a popular sport (a feature not substantiated by every other form of cricket competition in the country other than the One Day Internationals played once a year) the government may well be hoping that the investment in the facility would win votes in the pending elections.
The commitment of funds to Arnos Vale is therefore to be placed alongside the virtual slew of projects – the international airport at Argyle, the jet port at Canouan, the bridge across the Dry River and the Cross Country Road, to name a few – which, for all intents and purposes, may well constitute an important, if not the most important, ingredient in the ruling party’s election electoral strategy.
The decision to consider Calvary a playing field is ample evidence of the electioneering that has already begun by the ruling regime and may well prove to be a critical basis on which to analyse the way in which the party perceives the people of this country.