Hosting the Pan American Confederation Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifiers is certainly an exciting and momentous development for Jamaica. However, Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) President Fabian Stewart says that for local fans to enjoy the competition, his federation faces the difficult task of footing the hefty bill.

Stewart said that it will cost the JHF roughly $30 million to host the international tournament at the Mona Hockey Field, as the facility needs to be refurbished to meet international playing standards. He said the estimated cost could increase with plans for promotion and advertising.

"We have had the discussion with the individuals from the Pan American Hockey Federation who have inspected the field and made their recommendations. We expect, based on the interaction we have had with the manufacturers of the field and the sort of remedial work that we have to do, that we will be ready.

"A lot of the cost associated with hosting the tournament revolved around the fact that we really needed to have the facility up to standard and up to par — and that includes the development and modification of the lights, some infrastructure nets that we have to put in for safety purposes, seating, and things of that nature.

"So, it is upward of $30 million to put on a really good tournament, and we are trying to look for all the assistance and help that we can get to obviously make that happen. We are about 30 to 40 per cent there," Stewart told the Jamaica Observer.

The qualifiers are scheduled to take place from June 4 to 11, with 10 teams (both men's and women's) confirming their participation.

Stewart said that to host major tournaments like the Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifiers, the playing surface has an important role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable tournament.

"There is a point at which you can't repair them anymore and you have to replace them, so each turf will have a certain amount of lifespan. We tend to go longer than the lifespan, but each time the turf has to be replaced. The lifespan is like five to 10 years, but we have been able to go longer than that because of the sand base — that's why it [field] is heavily sanded, to maintain the bristles a little longer.

"One of the reasons we want to have major tournaments now is simply to ensure that we can speak to Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) in terms of partnering with us again to lay a new surface," Stewart said.

He said while it is expensive to host the qualifiers, there is a return on investment. He argued there will be opportunities for prospective business partners given the sport's and Jamaica's marketability.

"So, we are also trying to work with sponsors that would like to come and advertise their products. Obviously, the tournament aspect is great in terms of having so many visitors to the island; it gives us an opportunity to showcase the island and obviously contributes to the tourism product, Brand Jamaica, and the hotels and food facilities.

Stewart said the intention is to operate the Mona Hockey Field as a multipurpose facility in the near future.

"We have earned income from the venue as well. The venue is rented for various parties and sporting events, and we help all other federations at minimal or no cost. Any federation that comes to us, especially Olympic federations, we have facilitated," the president said.

"Football is played over there, both on the grass and on the turf, but our intention is to get the facility to become a multipurpose facility with a hockey field. We are having discussions about basketball; we are having discussions about wrestling because we want to see how we could come up with a way to build an outdoor but indoor area — an area that is flat that facilitates floor sports — so that is something that we are absolutely looking at," Stewart ended.

From the Jamaica Observer