14ymedio, Havana, 22 October 2021 — The Cuban authorities have opened the door to a privatization of the management of sports facilities that seems imminent. The first of the venues to pass into the hands of the “new forms of economic management,” as the authorities call the non-state sector, will be the emblematic Latin American Stadium, home of the Havana baseball team the Industriales.
This stadium, the island’s main baseball venue, will be the first to experience this change in the near future. The objective is that these facilities “have their financial autonomy and be self-sustaining,” said Juan Reinaldo Pérez, National Baseball Commissioner, speaking this Thursday in Camagüey.
The official told a press conference that it is part of the new policy that the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) aspires to introduce and “some facilities and academies are going to move to new forms of economic management (non-farming cooperatives, self-employed workers or Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)).”
El Coloso del Cerro, as the Latin American Stadium is known, was built in 1946 and continued for more than 60 years with hardly any modifications. In 2014 it was remodeled to solve some of the most serious problems it had, among them, “some surprises, since the sanitary services, the hydraulic system and especially the roof were worse than had been calculated,” said a worker in the works speaking to this newspaper.
New warm-up areas were then created at the bottom of the dugouts, old batting cages were removed, and the foul zone was widened. The Havana Forestry Brigade also got involved, to condition the land with new layers of macadam, stone, gravel and sand, the Havana Water Company had to restructure the hydraulic system and the roof was renewed.
But the complaints continued, especially in relation to the conservation of the toilets. Regarding services, many Havanans lamented the poor good services on offer at a venue that in its time had the best. Individuals already swarmed around the stadium, although only for the sale of popcorn or candy.
The pizzeria and cafeterias were still in the hands of the State and, although the menu items were cheap, their quality was negligible.
The situation is repeated in the sports venues across most of the Island, which may now be transferred to private hands, although we will have to wait to find out who the Government will authorize to manage these facilities, a type of task that requires multiple hiring in different areas and, therefore, many employees and investment.
To this must be added that, given “the complex energy situation and the poor state of the lights in some stadiums,” in the next National Series “all games will be daytime,” as announced by commissioner Juan Reinaldo Pérez. “However, we will try to progressively replace high-consumption light bulbs with LED technology or a more economical one to return to play at night.”
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