– plans to build US$30M stadium
The best friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, has made a bid to acquire the world-renowned Georgetown Cricket Ground and the nearby Georgetown Football Club (GFC), Bourda. He says that he plans to build a modern stadium, investing US$30M ($6B).
But the battle lines have been drawn as GCC executives and the football clubs have raised objections.
New GPC, a company that Ramroop heads, is proposing that the new facilities will rival or offer the same facilities as the state-owned Guyana National Stadium, Providence. He plans to have Test cricket, One Day internationals, T20 cricket and international football matches played there.
Ramroop is also hoping to attract the many local and international entertainment shows that the Providence stadium has been hosting to raise much-needed revenues. It is the plan that national events and ceremonies will also be held there.
Both the Bourda and GFC ground are located in one of the city’s most expensive real estate— between Regent Road and North Road. The two grounds stretch an entire block between the Shiv Chanderpaul Drive and Vlissengen Road.
The New GPC proposal which was signed by Ramroop, and dated November 12, 2013 was addressed to Dr. Lionel Jaikaran, President of the Georgetown Cricket Club. The document was yesterday leaked by angry members of the GCC…a club which is housed in the Bourda ground. The members fear the loss of two historic sporting grounds which have unforgettable memories of some of the biggest clashes between local and international cricket and football teams.
The Bourda cricket ground was built since the 1850’s. It is the home ground of cricketing greats such as Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon, Lance Gibbs, the Christiani brothers, Clive Lloyd and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Roy Fredericks, Carl Hooper and Colin Croft.
Indicating that the proposal for the takeover was well thought out, Ramroop made it clear that his company is very much aware that the land is owned by the Government and has been leased to the two clubs and that there is nothing stopping his proposal from being favorably considered. “The company further understands that there are no encumbrances or legal issues surrounding this real estate.”
Among other things, Ramroop is proposing that a cricket/football academy with all amenities be established; construction of new stands and pavilions; designs that will see the entire stadium covered in later years; installation of permanent floodlights; construction of hospitality boxes for corporate businesses and new club houses maintaining the current architecture.
New GPC is also proposing to raise the level of the grounds and improve drainage; extend the playing areas in keeping with new regulations to accommodate cricket, football, athletics and other sports; construct a world class restaurant, entertainment and reception facilities and a bigger parking area.
Ramroop is also proposing to call the facilities the Limacol Bourda Stadium.
Making a case for his company’s capacity, Ramroop argued that earlier this year, New GPC and its flagship, Limacol, became the title sponsor of the Limacol CPLT20. New GPC has also acquired the franchise for the national cricket team, the Guyana Amazon Warriors. “…and together these two entities control the administration of CPL Cricket in Guyana.”
Ramroop, who has been fingered in a number of questionable deals dating back to the Jagdeo administration, made it clear that the Bourda ground has fallen into disrepair. So, too, has the nearby GFC ground.
The proposal said that New GPC envisions merging the two clubs to make it more economically feasible to offer more activities.
“The proposed Limacol Bourda and Sports Academy will see a merger of both clubs. The layout envisages maintaining separate areas but with facilities that overlap and features to serve both cricket and football.”
The stadium, Ramroop promises, will seat 20,000-plus for cricket.
To facilitate the takeover, Ramroop plans to set up a new company to operate and manage the facilities; transfer and extend the leases of GFC and Bourda ground to this company and transfer all existing members to the new company under a new fee structure which will come into place when the new facilities are built.
Ramroop also offered both GFC and GCC shares and board representation in the new company.
Copies of the letters were submitted to the GFC and GCC simultaneously.
The proposal by Ramroop is sure to ignite a storm of protests from especially members of the two clubs and already there are objections.
Additionally, Ramroop’s questionable dealings and how he may have unfairly received several concessions; was granted radio and television licences and the fact that he is poised to even be granted permission to take a piece in the telephone industry, will all be brought to the fore.
In addition to being controversially granted almost exclusive rights to supply drugs to Government, he has been receiving orders for hardware supplies and even awarded printing contracts.
His newspaper, Guyana Times, and television station, TVG, has been receiving state ads, ahead of the older and more established Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, Capitol News, CNS Channel 6 and RBS 13.
Parliamentarians have been expressing increasing worry of the growing control of Ramroop’s tentacles, with the help of the administration, in the various industries.
It was only about five years ago that Ramroop and New GPC’s parent company, Queens Atlantic Investments Inc. (QAII) burst into the spotlight.
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