Kensington Oval prepares for complete rebuild
While concerns are voiced about progress on the building of new grounds throughout the Caribbean in time for the 2007 World Cup, there are no such worries in Barbados. Officials are optimistic that the redevelopment of Bridgetown's Kensington Oval - which will host the final - will leave a legacy of a state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility.
After the tournament, the Oval will be used for a variety of events - sporting and non-sporting - and, officials claim, will also target the US sports market. Stephen Alleyne, World Cup Barbados chief executive officer, told reporters that he wanted "a ground that will be able to host the best World Cup final, but which will then transform this country's ability to host sporting and other events."
Even though Kensington generates more income from hosting cricket than any other venue in the Caribbean, Alleyne admitted that cricket alone could not provide sufficient funding to maintain the new stadium. "It is a significant investment," he explained. "There's a responsibility for all of us involved to make the best return we can on that investment." But he added that cricket would continue to be a priority. "The Kensington that we will end up with will be a superb and superior cricket venue."
It is expected that the ground will have a capacity of around 15,000, but this will be boosted by temporary seating to nearer 30,000 for the World Cup final. Demolition work on the existing stadium will start in June next year and is expected to be completed in December 2006.
The first casualties will be the Peter Short Media Centre at the southern end, and the Garfield Sobers Pavilion at the northern end. "These are two critical areas," Mike Weekes, the facilities development officer, told reporters. "It will give us an opportunity to test them ahead of the home series against India and Zimbabwe in 2006 and enough lead-in time to make any adjustments necessary."