There have been numerous challenges but even more successes during the construction phase of the new National Stadium gifted to the people of The Bahamas by the People’s Republic of China according to project manager Iram Lewis.
National Stadium takes shape - Bahamas Athletics
During a meeting with the press at the early part of April at the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture Charles Maynard the minister responsible release major plans for the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, and Nick Dean from Integrated Building Services laid out full details of what is to become of the more than 450 acres sports complex.
Needles to say the new stadium will be the focal point of the sports complex that will be home to the associations and federations headquarter in all of the core sports, and other disciplines including Special Olympics Bahamas, rock climbing, net ball, drag racing, cycling, American football, baseball and more.
During his power point presentation as it relates to the National Stadium Project Lewis began by thanking successive governments for allowing Bahamians to spearhead the management side of the project that is being funded and constructed by the Chinese.
Even though it took just 18 months for the super structure to go from ground level to near completion, Lewis said it took some ingenuity to get the job done and remain not only on schedule but ahead of schedule. The stadium is expected to be officially given to the Government of The Bahamas on June 30 as opposed to a previously predicted date in July.
Lewis noted that quality control teams from Chinese company made regular visits to the site to ensure concrete and the steel work were up to standards. He also reminded that much of the materials used to build the nearly $40 million stadium were purchased locally.
“We bought lumber, dry cement, ready mix concrete, steel, all of the blocks were purchased locally and we used heavy equipment from local companies. Initially it was estimated that we would spend $5.5 million locally but during our last count we were well over $8 million,” Lewis revealed.
He said one of the many challenges they faced was the availability of concrete from local suppliers on the weekend and late at night, so they produced an on site concrete production plant for those periods when local companies could not supply.
Power supply and the frequency at which they required power on the construction site was another challenge Lewis said they overcame by putting in their own diesel generators to avoid putting further strain on The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC). Again, all diesel and oil to run the generators were purchased locally.
Another major obstacle early in the project was the unstable soil and an extremely high water table levels at the site that made work on the foundation a mucky challenge. Lewis explained that they could not use a traditional foundation.
“Additionally during our core testing we discovered that 22-feet under ground there was a cavity, so we decided to use a piling system. We drilled beyond the cavity and went 40-feet deep were we found a second solid layer and the stadium itself is designed to sit on those piles anchored in that second layer of rock,” explained Lewis.
According to Lewis, there are a total of 619 piles each 2.5 feet in diameter and each 40-feet deep, creating the foundation for the mega stadium.
It took 16 months to complete the foundation before the super structure that will seat 15 thousand people began to go up. The western grand stand will seat 12 thousand and the eastern grand stand another three thousand in red and blue bucket seats with drainage holes. The seating will be coordinated by numbers and colors for each section.
In addition to a granite and porcelain finish for the main entrance, the stadium will also feature lots of other amenities including two mega video screens that will show, replays, scores and live action video. The electrical wiring for the screens is currently underway.
The infield is currently in the process of being completed using land fill dredged from the Nassau Harbour. Lewis commended the government for its timely decision for dredging the harbor because a large amount of fill is needed at the stadium where the infield will also be certified by the international federation for soccer - FIFA.
Aside from the generators used for construction the stadium will be outfitted with two mega generators that will allow it to run at full power in the event BEC fails. One of the main reasons to build the stadium is to have it used as a hurricane shelter and become a major attraction for sports tourism.
During his presentation Lewis proudly highlighted the ongoing student exchange program with CC Sweeting that has inspired many of the students in the program that have worked on the stadium to do well in school and to begin preparing for college and a career after high school.
There were talks about the stadium being used to host an event for Independence July 10, 2011 but government officials at the sports ministry are uncertain if that will happened, because even after the stadium is handed over to Bahamians, there will be considerable work to be done to get the stadium fully functional, and that may take another year or so to completed and before it is ready to host events.
Gerrino Saunders - www.bahamasathletics.com - for IAAF