Dec. 7, 2001
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To: All Bermuda Hockey Federation Members
From: Jonathan JR Dodd, Chairman, BHF Astroturf Pitch Committee
Re: Our Vision for a World Class Playing Facility
Dear fellow members,
The profile of Bermuda hockey is being raised once again! As many of you have probably seen or heard, we have had a new and exciting focus within the Bermuda sporting circles during 2001. Why is all this going on and why now?
2001 has seen Bermuda hockey elevated further in the international arena, following representation at the Pan American Club Championships for the first time and the establishment of the official BHF website on the worldwide web. 2001 brings the visual completion of several phases of the new National Sports Centre. 2001 has brought new and significant challenges relating to the playability of our new pitch at Montessori.
As a result of these events it is very clear that in order for us, both individually and collectively, to develop our sport we need a new surface; we need a new surface that will help us to be competitive; we need a new surface that will ensure continued growth in our membership; and most importantly we need a new surface that will promote the development of our younger members. Interestingly, of our 272 current members, over 20% are juniors and this excludes an additional 150+ school students and those studying abroad.
An old and very applicable phrase springs to mind, “if you build it, they will come”. This will hold true for Bermuda and hockey. As an example, with the an artificial playing surface in Bermuda, we believe our membership will grow, community interest in hockey will increase, school programs will expand, and the historically successful, but now extinct, International Bermuda Hockey Festival will be resurrected. Indeed we have already received representation that TK Hockey (the world leader in hockey equipment and promotion) would bring an elite team of TK sponsored internationals players from Germany, Holland and Spain to the island to participate. Furthermore, we believe that Bermuda will become a training destination for colleges and clubs from the US, Canada and Europe, exposing local players and clubs to high level hockey. We are one of very few hockey playing nations that still play on grass, and I think you will agree that now is the time to address this shortcoming by ensuring the development of the right playing surface.
We are therefore looking for your support in this goal, which clearly needs to be provided through a committed and joint effort from all of us.
Developments to date
In 1998, the Government commissioned plans for the new National Sports Centre at Frog Lane. Included in those plans was an artificial playing surface. The planned pitch is water based and floodlit and meets all relevant standards to be considered a world-class playing surface. The plans were drawn up such that the facilities at the stadium would be built in phases, based on priorities. The Astroturf was initially part of Phase I construction but was pushed back to Phase II with the change of Government in 1998. Its completion is still subject to changes in the construction plan and Government budgetary constraints.
During meetings between BHF representatives and the Board of Trustees for the National Sports Centre over the last year, it has now become clear that with the recent downturn in the global economy, the availability of funds for the completion of Phase II is under serious scrutiny from Government. The Minister is presently reviewing the Trustees budget requirements for Phase II completion which includes decisions on the order of construction.
This, combined with the changes in ownership at Nationals (Montessori), presents a serious risk to the development, and indeed the future, of Bermuda hockey.
To address this, the BHF recently sanctioned the formation of a new committee to represent the BHF and all its members with the goal of the committee to ensure that everything that can be done to help Government and the Trustees complete the Astroturf phase will be done. The committee members are:
It has been unofficially communicated to us that if the BHF raises $500,000 then the Trustees will support and recommend to Government that the Astroturf be built. Total costs to build the pitch are in the region of $1.5 million to $2.0 million.
The new committee’s critical objective, initially, is to act on behalf of the BHF in coordinating a successful fundraising effort. As noted in the attached press release, our target is $500,000. The committee will also offer help to and work closely with the Trustees and will lead the charge in raising public awareness of and support for our vision.
We believe the recent press release was an excellent start. We will build on this with television interviews and further newspaper columns. We will also continue to develop relationships with key contacts in our community.
How will we reach our financial target?
This is the committee’s critical question. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer and we have a challenging task ahead. What is clear though, is that there is significant support for our cause and the pitch development does make sense.
We are currently considering several options ranging from BHF fundraising and charitable donations to corporate sponsors and long term financing. Each has its pros and cons, and I can assure you all that the committee will devote significant time and thought to reaching the proper and achievable solution.
What is the time frame?
In January 2002, we will finalize our targeted source(s) of funds. This will be approved by the BHF and will be presented to the Trustees.
By April/May 2002 we expect to have completed the fundraising, or at least received commitments to that effect and at that time we expect that the Trustees will recommend to Government that pitch development gets the green light. After that we will continue to work with Trustees through to the successful construction of the pitch.
We believe that the 2002/2003 season is an achievable target date for our first games on this fantastic new surface.
What will be the cost to our members?
This is a 2-pronged question. Firstly, is there any cost to the members associated with raising $500,000?
We believe that it is important for the BHF to demonstrate its dedication through some level of financial commitment, and we will work carefully with the BHF Executive in determining whether this is viable. However, our goal currently is to raise the money from sources other than the BHF.
Secondly, there will be new costs associated with the running and management of a water-based Astroturf. For example, water collection, drainage, maintenance and lighting costs. We do not know, at this stage, the amounts, nor do we know who will pay for these - Government, the BHF, or a combination of both. We will be exploring these issues further and will report back as information becomes available.
We should, however, prepare ourselves for the fact that there will likely be some form of cost to the BHF and its members. Ultimately, we know that there will be huge benefits from having an Astroturf in Bermuda and, when assessing the balance of cost versus benefit, it is imperative to keep these costs to a minimum. We will be working with everyone’s best interests in mind and when we have more detailed information to distribute we hope that all our members will agree that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
In conclusion, we hope that you will support our goals and objectives and join together in promoting Bermuda hockey. Naturally, we will be providing you with regular updates on our progress and other developments.
We are looking forward to the challenges ahead and more importantly to the first push-back on Bermuda’s Astroturf!
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