Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Should Jamaica go after Major Sporting Events?

As the world is being battered by the current economic recession, governments are seeking new and innovative ways to earn well-needed funds and to also provide jobs.

What then could help to boost Jamaica's economy? I say we go after two major sporting events over the next three to five years. These major events could attract

Foreign-exchange income for the country

International media attention

Temporary jobs for residents

Opportunities for other residents to volunteer.

Over the next five years, World Track and Field championship is in Berlin (August 2009), World Cup Football, South Africa (July 2010) and Summer Olympic Games, London, (2012) are just some of the major events to take place; but there will be need for preparation tournaments and championships prior to these events.

I see where the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) is about to host a USA and Jamaica bonanza; that would grab some attention, generating some well-needed funds. Also with Jamaica out of World Cup football, could we create a football festival where top teams (countries or clubs) can participate?

Also, could the cricket body look at its schedule over the next three years and see where a three/four nation five-day tournament could fit in.

Several news stories recently have shown where countries and states are moving towards sport tourism as an option, with the latest being Hawaii and also Thailand. One of the common reasons was "people need to feel good".

Last month, the Hawaii Tourism Authority voted to allow the NFL's Pro Bowl game to return to Hawaii in 2011 and 2012. The game has been held the week after the Super Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu since 1980, and has sold out every time.

JTB should see sport as a priority

Can the Jamaica Tourist Board work closer with the sporting federations to create our own sporting festival and throw their weight behind this venture? In light of the recent budget allocations to the industry, I am sure there are creative ways we can spread the money around effectively.

Malta recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Sheffield United and is using that collaboration to promote Malta as a sporting destination. Malta's training facilities, restaurants and other entertainment sites benefit over a two week period along with the media exposure. Malta's athletes also benefit from the technical courses run during this period; while volunteers are used to offer support services.

There are five or more internationally accepted sporting facilities across the island and so Jamaica should look to form relationships which will see countries, clubs and university/college teams come for a week or two to use the facilities, discover Jamaica and compete against our teams.

Let us look at a national football league, major league baseball, UK football club and any university in the US or Canada for starter and host one every half a year. That could generate the interest!

Note: The Jamaican people were the MVP for CHAMPS, April 1 to 4. Well done!


Zanadu said...

An emphatic YES!!

Actually, just like how the Boys and Girls championships have been placed on the world stage we should attempt to add the same prestige to all the Invitationals that we have yearly.

With somewhat limited resources and knowing that we don't want to over-race our athletes we should not add any others but instead market what we already have in the form of Grace Jackson, Utech etc where our best athletes are perenially present and invite top talent. Let's face it, the infrastructure and natural resources are already in place and with our recent success at the olympics this would just add to our prestige as a country who produces top tier athletes on the world stage.
Let us not forget that aside from preparation and resources, many of our athletes go abroad in seek of high competition. Well if we put our heads together we can then create that atmosphere here four times a year.

Track and Field in Jamaica has always garnished the most attention of all our sports and has now broken through on a level that neither Cricket or Football will ever reach. While at High school I remember playing as high as the Sunlight cup finals where we had fans only when we played at home. Remember how difficult it was to fill the stands when the last world cup cricket was held a couple of years ago.?
Manning cup was way better but there's nothing like Boys ad Girls championships. I don't think in the near future we will see any changes in fanfare so we need to lead with our best foot forward, Track and Field.

Carole Beckford said...

Conrad from Atlanta: Hello,
Question. Did you send a copy of this letter to the Minister of Sports, JAAA, JFF, and all other institutions and leaders in the sporting faternity?
It has always been said that during the winter months the people who reside in the cold temperature want somewhere to train. Has anyone in Jamaica ever really explored the possiblity of earning from anything like that?
I think your idea is excellent and just hope some of the "" who run our sports programme will get with the programme.

Carole Beckford said...

Ian from Kingston: Hi Carole,

As usual, a great article, with forward thinking ideas. I would go further to suggest the recently held Boys & Girls Champs generated so much interest from Europe and around world, I would like to see ISSA have a team examine the revenue opportunies for TV rights for viewing in Europe and elsewhere.

Better yet, to sustain their interest, why not extend invitations to other overseas high schools (Europe, USA, S. America, Africa etc.), thus giving a vested interest in the meet thru their participation. Imagine the opportunities for ISSA becoming a foreign exchange earner, with the ability to more profitablely fund its operations and local schools also gaining a bigger share of the pie from ISSA. Furthermore, imagine the sponsorship for the schools' sports programmes that could be gained from international sponsorship.

The side effect to to all this, would be the Ministry would need to establish some principles which I think would monitor these programmes and ensure that a percentage of these sponsorships are geared towards the academic development of the schools and yougsters on a whole.

Keep up the good work, Carole.


Carole Beckford said...

Peter from PA, USA wrote:

Great idea Madam. My friends and I have gone back several times for motor sporting events in Jamaica as we have done in other parts of the world. I have connections with the motor racing community there and know the deep love we have for the sport. I have always felt that Jamaica could be on the list of Formula 1 circuits. We are perfectly located and could provide excellent conditions for this. I believe the draw from the region and from the other formula 1countries would be tremendous. Building a track could be a private capital venture and several events a year would defray the cost over time and pump millions of hard currency in the economy. Jamaicans love motor sports and would get a chance to feast their eyes on the really fast cars and top drivers including people like the black Englishman Lewis Hamilton who is the current world champion. Just check Dover on a race Sunday.

Here is a look at the 2009 schedule and the countries involved. Mar. 29Australian Grand Prix* Melbourne Apr. 5 Malaysian Grand Prix Sepang International Circuit Apr. 19 Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain International Circuit May 10 Spanish Grand Prix Montmelo, Barcelona May 24 Monaco Grand Prix Monaco Jun. 7 Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal Jun. 21 British Grand Prix Silverstone Jun. 28 French Grand Prix Nevers-Magny-Cours Jul. 12 German Grand Prix Nurburgring Jul. 26 Hungarian Grand Prix Budapest Aug. 9 Turkish Grand Prix Istanbul Aug. 23 European Grand Prix Valencia, Spain Sep. 6 Italian Grand Prix Monza Sep. 13 Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps Sep. 27 Singapore Grand Prix Singapore Oct. 11 Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai Oct. 18 Japanese Grand Prix Mt. Fuji Nov. 1 Brazilian Grand PrixSao Paolo Nov. 15 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

S. Peter Campbell Sr. Havertown PA. USA.

Carole Beckford said...

Sam wrote:

I read your article published in the Hospitality Jamaica and would like to comment directly on your article.

Yes, Jamaica should go after major sporting events. That's a good proposition and the benefits are obvious to all; increased US$ revenue, employment of local Jamaicans to facilitate these events, and international media attention.

The problem is would the world respond to Jamaica as a "sporting destination" with all the internal problems currently faced within. Jamaica is depicted as the murder capital of the world, with over 1,500 murders annually, over the past 10 years. This presents itself with a safety issue that you might not over come. You cannot promise to protect the tourists who would be attracted to these events, nor promise to protect the athletes who compete in these events. Why? Because you currently cannot even protect the innocent Jamaican citizen who resides in Jamaica. I cannot even convince co-workers or colleges to vacation in Jamaica due to the violence. We Jamaicans have become numb to the murders and it's a norm for us but to the world it's appalling.

There are more murders in Jamaica annually, than the numbers of solders killed in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars combined. Jamaica has a very bad image problem and athletes coming from the US and around the world would be skeptical and I think the majority would not participate due to fear of the unknown.

You mentioned World Track and Field Championships, World Cup Football, Summer Olympic Games as events over the next 5 years. Those are lofty goals (and nothing wrong with reaching for the stars) but the International Track & Field community are not going to give Jamaica such a prestige event until they prove they can handle smaller events (not Boys and Girls Champs). Do we have quality accommodation's for an international onslaught of media, participants, and fans to enjoy? The World Cup of Cricket presented many logistic problems that hampered a smooth running event. You cannot bus people in from the north coast hotels for daily sporting events.

Have you seen the condition of our local "Mondo surfaced tracks"? The Jamaica Gleaner posted pictures of the facility and stated in the article that "this is where the fastest man in the world trains." The track is worn out and would be a hinder to host International events.

I want our country to prosper, especially on the world scene but we have allot of internal issues to address before we try to recruit the world sporting events.

Hawaii hosting the NFL Pro Bowl Game is a great revenue maker for their island. Hawaii is part of the US and their facilities and accommodations are of a very high standard and close proximity to the stadium. Also, being an extension of the US, safety is not a concern. So we cannot compare their success with the Pro Bowl and base that as a model for Jamaica.

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is under funded to do their current job of marketing Jamaica to the world. Their budget does not reflect current marketing needs, nor allows them to be visible worldwide. They could not even afford advertising on US networks during the Summer Olympics to market Jamaica. Jamaica was the featured country of the past Olympics and our athletes excelled beyond thought and expectations and there was no advertisement from the JTB saying "come to Jamaica... " If it were not for Puma sponsoring Usain Bolt, Jamaica would have had no media presence.

Your ideas are excellent and I hope 'the powers to be' hear you and start implementing some internal changes in Jamaica to accommodate such a bold idea.


Bill said...

Going with the Amateur idea has any Jamaican Sports organizations ever checked into amateur wrestling. Good wrestlers can earn scholorships to top colleges and it is a Olympic sport for men and women.

It's a winter sport and the chance to come to Jamaica for an international compititions during the cold weather could work.

All you need are wrestling matts some refs and a gym to hold a meet.

In the State of Iowa a kid starts wrestling in November and can wrestle two tornaments every weekend until the end of March. Then they can go to National and International events all summer.

Wrestling is a tough sport that is hard for mothers to wach but it has been around since the Greeks started the Olypics. After a kid wrestles most anything else is easy.