BELIZE CITY, Fri. May 29, 2015–The MCC Garden – which, for at least five decades, has been the primary football venue in the Old Capital – has been mostly inoperative since June 2014 when it was closed for repairs by the National Sports Council (NSC).
The works were required mainly due to damages from non-sporting events which were held on the football pitch, and were initially scheduled to be finished almost a year ago, in August 2014, which would have been in time for the start of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) semi-pro football season.
Today, nine months later, the grounds remain in poor condition, and when the media caught up with the Minister with responsibility for Sports at an unrelated event this morning, he asserted that despite a few setbacks, the MCC should be ready for use within the next month and a half or by the second week of July.
He said, “We were waiting on a few competitions that were happening to be finished for us to do the excavations for the lighting because the wiring goes underground, and so we didn’t want to upset the competitions that were happening. They are about finished now, so we’re looking to start the excavations and erect the light poles for the MCC.”
Longsworth promised that the extended lighting works should be completed by mid-July, but he was also asked about the stunted growth of the grass on the field, which currently harbors a hazardous black dust that has been the subject of many complaints lodged by football enthusiasts and players.
He conceded that the grass has been a problem, but insisted that it is now under control.
“The grass has been giving us some issues. We have had the people from the Ministry of Agriculture come in to work with the NSC, so I’m hoping that the grass will come with a bit of time”, Longsworth mentioned.
He maintained that it is not a case in which the contractor that was hired to grow the grass carried out a substandard operation, but rather an issue where the underlying soil contained chemicals that retarded the growth of the grass that was planted on the top soil.
The agriculturists are trying to reverse that process through the use of other chemicals which, he said, “has been working as far as I know.”
So when will it be possible for the stadium to be utilized? According to Longsworth, it will soon be ready for full use since the underground wires will not impede play on the field; however, the delay is mainly because a decision was made to wait until the current competitions are finished, even though the works will take place outside the field area.
As it relates to the Marion Jones Sports Complex, the upgrade of which got underway almost 6 years ago in August 2009, Longsworth said the stadium itself is usable and that in the second week of June, there should a signing ceremony for an indoor facility and spotlights for the football field which will be donated by the Mexican government.