MINISTER OF Sport, Olivia ‘babsy’ Grange, said the surface of the newly renovated basketball courts at Independence Park, which was officially opened at the National Arena on Tuesday, is specially designed to accommodate Jamaica’s outdoor basketball culture.

Speaking at the opening, Grange noted that basketball is a sport generally played indoors on wooden surfaces, but in Jamaica, the sport is mostly played outdoors on concrete surfaces because of the high cost required to establish indoor facilities.

However, she noted that the renown synthetic surface producer Regupol of Germany came up with a design that is a lot more player friendly than the hard concrete surface it replaced.

“Basketball is really an indoor sport played on a wooden surface. However, in Jamaica, there is a need to have outdoor facilities based on the popularity of the sport and the high cost of wooden facilities,” said Grange.

“Until now, outdoor courts have been made of asphaltic concrete, but Regupol did some research and came up with this design, which is much easier on the joints.”

The project, which took more than two years to complete, was ready last year, but COVID-19 issues meant an official opening ceremony was delayed until Tuesday.


The facility was done at a cost of $40 million and included upgrade to the courts, fencing, drainage, specialised backboards, and lighting and Grange believes that the facility is one the fraternity can be proud of.

“The basketball court has been specially designed. The seating was replaced and expanded from 500 to over 1,000. Work was also done outside to enhance the drainage around the courts. Finally, high-quality lighting was installed to ensure the courts can be used at night,” explained Grange.

Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) president Paulton Gordo said that having the facility as a centralised venue will once again allow them to revive development programmes and host various competitions.

Although there are plans to jump-start mini- and youth-development programmes, he noted that they are still making plans with regard to competitions.

“We intend to use it consistently on weekends for our mini-programmes. Some summer camps will be there, like the jump ball, as well as we will see how often we can bring our development national teams to this central location.


“We are working very closely with IPL (Independence Park Limited), who is in charge of the facility. We just have to book early enough to prevent clashes (for venue) and abide by what is required, but in terms of tournaments, we are not there yet. We are still in the process of organising and planning those,” said Gordon.

For example, “schoolboy (national) finals is on Friday, but because it is an all-day competition, we did not want to play it outdoors, so we will be using G.C. Foster [College].”

Sports Development Foundation (SDF) general manager Denzil Wilkes revealed the project was delayed by additional work they had to do realigning the sewage system, and he estimates that the new facility will serve the sport well for at least a decade.

“Because of the layout of the place, we had to do some realignment of the sewage lines because the sewage line got blocked because one of them ran directly under the court.

“We also found when it rained the courts would be flooded, so we created some drains to prevent flooding.

“We needed a facility that can take the outdoor elements but is also easier on the joints of the players. With these facilities, you get a five-year warranty and usually a minimum of 10 years with proper maintenance,” he said.

IPL boss Major Desmond Brown said the courts’ usage would be regulated and that advanced booking of the facility would be essential for maintenance.

“It is a special surface that is made for our conditions, and like all our facilities, we will manage it to ensure that it is maintained in a respectable condition because whether it is new or old, we have to manage it to ensure that we get maximum life out of it,” he said.

From the Jamaica Gleaner

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