By Carl Joseph
The Acting Manager of the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds, Keithroy Black, disseminated a notice early Wednesday morning indicating that there will be an entrance fee for tourists visiting the national landmark as a part of a tour.
The fee, which will be set at US $2 (or EC $5), goes into effect as of next Monday, and taxi drivers are displeased with what they term the “sudden announcement”.
“When the guests come in, they want to go on the field most times and we have to make sure that the field is greatly kept,” explained the acting facility manager.
Black outlined that the guests also frequently use the bathroom facilities at the cricket grounds, which, along with the field upkeep, result in a huge maintenance fee throughout the year.
The operators most likely to be affected are under the umbrella of the St John’s Taxi Association and transport cruise ship passengers who disembark in St John’s.
General Secretary of the Association, Leroy John-Baptiste, said that the new fee “will present some challenge” to the taxi drivers.
“I don’t know what analysis was done, but I don’t believe [the fee] is going bring in much revenue for them,” he said.
“I do understand, yes, they have to do that for the upkeep of the grounds. But, for us as taxi drivers, it is going to have a negative impact and I don’t believe we will really be able to convince our passengers to pay that $2 to go into the stadium.”
However, Black said that it was on the advice of several taxi operators that the decision was made to impose the first-time fee.
“We were advised by taxi men who come to the stadium on a daily basis and they would have said to us, ‘hey, you guys are losing revenue at the stadium’,” Black explained.
He said that in the past, tourists have also enquired why there was no fee for entering and touring the iconic landmark.
“I’ve been to England, and, just to enter their stadiums you have to pay £20 to £50. And no, we are not offering a tour at this present moment, but they want to come in, they want to take pictures, especially since we just unveiled a collage of photos featuring the great man himself [Sir Vivian Richards],” he added.
Offering an alternative solution to the entrance fee, John-Baptiste said, “not everyone is into the cricket and so not everyone has the appetite for the stadium. What I have said to Mr Black is that he would generate a little bit more revenue with a usage fee for the restrooms.”
Black indicated that although this suggestion had been relayed to him, the stadium’s board of directors rejected that suggestion and opted for the present action.
The acting manager indicated that other frequent users of the facility, to include exercise groups, have been making contributions to the upkeep of the facility, and that groups who have not been contributing will be asked to do so.