By Neto Baptiste
There is no guarantee that the Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) will regain access to the 25-metre pool at the former Antigua Athletic Club, now owned by Cricket West Indies (CWI).
This is according to the body’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Johnny Grave, who said structural damage to the pool may be more significant than previously thought.
“I think it’s probably too early to say because one of the issues we have become aware of is that the whole Antigua Athletic Club is built on raised land, and when the amphitheatre of the banks were being built, it was man-made soil that was piled up, so the pool could potentially be always sinking as it’s not built into the land, and on a man-made mound that was originally designed for fans to watch the cricket. Until we can get that detailed structural report back, it is very difficult to say whether it’s a viable venue for a swimming pool, or whether we need to look at other areas, or whether the swimming federation needs to look at other sites in Antigua,” he said.
Grave said CWI is awaiting reports from a number of engineers and architects on the way forward, and have asked the swimming federation to allow for that process to be completed before any agreement could be reached as to whether not it would be viable to conduct repairs.
“Since then, we have appointed master plan architect designers to look at the entire redevelopment of the 20-plus acres, and it’s actually transpired there are some even more significant structural problems with the swimming pool than we even envisaged or imagined, and therefore our prime concern at the moment is that either Cricket West Indies or the swimming federation doesn’t spend money fixing the pool and then getting further problems in one month, two months or six months, and we have to spend tens of thousands more dollars to fix it and the swimmers are once again left without a facility,” he said.
“We are just [looking at] different surveys, and different structural reports to come in so that we could be absolutely clear as to what the problems are,” he added.
The CEO also welcomed news that government has relinquished its shares in the property, stating that it paves the way forward for further development.
“That would allow us actually to have that clean title, and therefore we’d be able to go and raise some financing to what is an extremely ambitious redevelopment plans; that we have to invest millions of dollars into the Coolidge Cricket Ground to create that world class cricket training high performance academy that will not just be an asset for Cricket West Indies, but hopefully for Antigua and Barbuda, and also for the entire region. We can bring in our best female and male cricketers to have high performance camps and training here, and Coolidge Cricket Ground is going to be the fully owned asset of Cricket West Indies and very much the home of our organisation,” Grave said.
In a recent interview, president of the swimming federation Dr. Derek Marshall, said the development has severely hampered the body preparations for several upcoming meets.