Hurricane Greta, on September 18, 1978, destroyed the three main bleachers on the western sidelines. About a decade or so ago, the Guinness and Brodies pavilions were dismantled, and all that remains are broken cement slabs where they once stood. Eventually, a big cement and galvanized pipe framed bleacher was built sometime in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s near the north-east corner of the field; and a couple bleachers were subsequently put on the eastern sideline and one behind the southern goal affectionately known as the “ragamuffin bleachers.” The big bleacher at the north-east corner has no roof, so fans are exposed to the hot sun or rain. One of the two eastern bleachers has a roof, but when the sun dips around game-time at 3:30 or 4:00 p.m., the slanting rays of the sun hit fans directly in their faces, so they scramble onto the upper deck to try and dodge under the roof until they can’t dodge anymore.
But the field, which was our saving grace, is now the biggest disappointment.
After a series of damaging uses of the grounds for dance parties and other bazaar type events, the MCC was abruptly “closed to the public” on June 2, 2014, reportedly for renovations; and football fans had high hopes of returning to a much improved stadium.
Eight months later, when the MCC was finally released for football games, nothing had been done about the accommodations – no new bleachers, and nothing done to improve those that existed; and what was done to the football playing surface, heaven knows, but the field that we got back was and still is an absolute disaster.
FC Belize, the semipro team that represented Belize City in the Premier League of Belize tournaments, has had its ownership and management problems ever since the passing of owner Lionel Welch last year February; and the closure of the MCC last June did not help. FC Belize stumbled through the PLB Closing Season earlier this year; but their situation was not helped when, a couple weeks before the start of the new season the Sports Council suddenly took down all the lights, so that the team could no longer train after dark, a major blow to their preparation. So, as bad as the situation already was, the “powers that be” found a way to make it worse for the ballers, no lights, so no training after dark.
But this is not about FC Belize, who dropped out or was kicked out of the 2015-2016 Opening Season before their first game. They will explain their problems someday. This is about the MCC, which we can all see for ourselves. Whatever money was spent on the “renovations,” it does not appear that we have gotten adequate value. In fact, the consensus among football players and fans is that the field was much, much better before the “renovations.”
Whoever had the contracts to do the present “renovations” at the Carl Ramos Stadium in Dangriga, the Toledo Union Field, Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, and the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo del Carmen, we can only wish that they give value for money. Meanwhile, in commercial, media and population capital Belize City, there has been no talk of any more renovations for the MCC, which more resembles a “horse gallop” than a football field right now. It’s a downright shame and disgrace, really.
It is academic, but we’ll ask you the question anyhow, after you have seen the accompanying pictures of the MCC Garden before and after the 2014 renovations: Was it for better, or for worse?
All hail our Belize City based Ministers of Sports – Hon. Patrick Faber and Hon. Herman Longsworth!