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Jamaica all set for calypso under the sun

The clock to the third largest sporting event on the planet is ticking, with organisers putting their best foot forward to get everything in order.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 12:19 IST

The clock to the third largest sporting event on the planet is ticking, with organisers putting their best foot forward to get everything in order for the cricket World Cup that kicks off March 11.

The opening ceremony will be conducted at the Trelawny multi-purpose stadium in the historic town of Falmouth, a two-hour drive from here that will also host four warm-up matches March 5-9.

The $30 million facility is spread over 60 acres. The stadium has two stands - north and south - with a seating capacity of 2,500 and 7,500 respectively. The seats in the stand are laid out in the colour of Jamaica's national flag.

While the southern stand offers a view of the Caribbean Sea and the town of Falmouth, spectators in the north stand can gaze at a lush-green mountain range.

The south stand houses the press boxes and the broadcast facilities as well as facilities for the teams and officials.

In addition there are two grassed berms that can accommodate 5,000 spectators. These add the Caribbean flavour to the game, being open areas where live bands will play. Spectators can buy a ticket to these "party stands", getting a chance to enjoy the game and simultaneously knock down some drinks and shake a leg.

The stadium is accessible to the physically challenged and wheelchair-bound, with wide isles, ramps and railings.

The organisers are expecting around 600 international media personnel to attend the opening ceremony that will be telecast live to an estimated audience of 2.6 billion.

Falmouth and its environs, officials believe, will benefit from the sports facility as it has been built as a testimonial to take it beyond cricket.

"Building of this facility in the north of the island is strategic as it lends itself for the development of new areas of marketing," Robert Bryan, executive director, Jamaica Cricket 2007 Ltd.

"Plans are underway to embark on marketing Jamaica as event and sports tourism destination."

During the event, the town, with its history and Georgian architecture, is being transformed into a "walking museum" with guided tours.

Tours and attractions are being worked on so as to attract more tourists who will be in this picturesque island during the course of the World Cup. Jamaica gets around 2.5 million visitors every year.

In Kingston, the Sabina Park stadium has been refurbished, with work on this historic site being done in three phases. The pitch and field were the first to be completed, with the outfield being equipped with a sub-surface drainage network and an automatic irrigation system.

The second phase involved the refurbishing of the George Headley Stand. Phase three of the project covered the demolition of the old north stand and building a new structure that will house facilities for players, sponsors and officials. The stand also has broadcast facilities, the press box, 78 executive suites on two levels - and seating for an estimated 7,500 spectators.

The Park now boosts a much larger "party stand" below a new electronic scoreboard. The facilities here also have been made disabled friendly.

Sabina Park will accommodate 20,000 fans, of which 4,000 will be temporary seating. Sabina Park will host six first round group stage matches and one semi-final.

The logistics are into place, and the hosts are gearing up to welcome the visitors. It is estimated that 100,000 cricket specific spectators will come to the Caribbean to watch the matches.

The hosts are promising to drench them with the warm hospitality and of course the spirit of the game.

"This is about Jamaica," says Bryan. "We are inviting members of our family, and you should enjoy, be comfortable and be at home."