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September 21, 2006
The Brian Lara Stadium, in Trinidad, has officially lost its status as a pre-tournament warm-up match venue for the World Cup 2007.
This was announced first by Roger Boynes, the Minister of Sport, before Chris Dehring, the managing director and CEO for the West Indies World Cup, confirmed the final decision that was handed down after a two-week extension. He added that either Guaracara Park or the Sir Frank Worrell Ground in St Augustine will replace the "Lara", part of the PNM's planned $850 million elite sports complex in Tarouba.
The final fate of the problematic Brian Lara Stadium, several months behind schedule and beset by delays caused by inclement weather and the tardy delivery of steel to the site, confirmed doubts that had arisen several months earlier about the ability of the contractors to meet key ICC deadlines.
In what was to be his definitive visit two weeks ago, Lockerbie, along with ICC and Global Cricket Corporation inspectors, decided to give his officials a two-week grace period to review a belatedly re-arranged schedule for completion of the troubled ground.
Boynes said that despite this, the government suggested that the "Lara" be replaced. "UDeCoTT [Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago] had been working very hard to try to push this project along but it was felt that the facility was not within the timelines that the ICC set up specifically for completion," Boynes reasoned.
"While we have been assured by UDecott that they could present something by December, we feel that the image that we want, the complete stadium that we want because we will be on show and the whole world will be looking at it, the government of Trinidad and Tobago [T&T] has formally recommended that the Brian Lara Stadium be taken off the table."
Dehring said Cricket World Cup 2007 Inc had viewed the proposed replacement venues and was "comfortable with either of the proposed venues". On receiving the final recommendation from the local organising committee, the ICC CWC 2007 Inc will take the request to the ICC to ask for approval. This process is to be finalised by November.
For his part Lockerbie said he was "very confident" that the two chosen venues will not be besieged by the same problems as the "Lara" as they are in a much more" mature state" of readiness and would be able to meet the ICC deadlines in time for the world tournament that bowls off in the region on March 5, 2007.
However, Lockerbie gave the thumbs-up to this country's other venues. The Queen's Park Oval was described as a "masterpiece" while the University of West Indies Ground in St Augustine and the Sir Frank Worrell venue at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva were given passing grades.
Boynes also said that the bill for the sunset legislation, the special legislation to be in effect during the tournament, has been approved by cabinet and is to be laid in Parliament soon.
© Trinidad & Tobago Express