The Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago will deliberate on the hosting of the entire Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in this country today when they convene for their weekly meeting.
Already committed to a three-year US$1million per year contract with the CPL organisers—2020 is the final year of that contract—Government officials will consider the CPL proposal for the country to host the entire month-long tournament that is scheduled for an August 18 start.
Besides the factor of potential additional costs—T&T previously hosted some preliminary round matches as well as one semi-final and the final in 2018 and 2019—the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the health protocols to deal with the influx of overseas and foreign-based athletes, staff and personnel are expected to be at the forefront of the discussions.
“Everybody is trying to make it happen,” said Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) chairman Douglas Camacho yesterday.
Three meetings have been held to date with several stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and the Customs and Immigration divisions. And Camacho, also the chairman of the local organising committee (LOC), said the CPL medical team had been liaising with the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and the MoH to streamline the protocols and procedures to deal with the period from the date of arrival to the departure of the tournament’s competitors and personnel.
“I am very supportive but not if it is going to put the country at risk,” said Camacho. “That has been my position from the start and we are going to be guided by Dr Parasram and his team. I absolutely feel the Government is going to put an offer on the table and the CPL will say yes or no.”
Camacho’s instincts are based on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s comments at a media briefing on May 30 when he said; “We don’t have a proper handle yet, but we are cautiously optimistic, if the CPL authorities would like to host the tournament in Trinidad...If that comes to us from the official sources we have cleared the pathway for that conversation and we would facilitate as we are able to under the confines of the guidance of the CMO.”
In meetings between the LOC and officials of the CPL organising committee, Hilton Trinidad has been identified as the CPL headquarters that will be turned into a bio-secure location to house players, staff and personnel, with the hotel further divided into smaller bio-secure areas designated to particular franchise teams. That will follow the model of similar bio-secure areas developed locally at the Home of Football in Couva and the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua, both currently serving as step-down facilities.
With its players’ draft already completed, the CPL has also shared the data concerning the country of origin and country of nationality of expected incoming players and personnel with the MoH so that preparations for the full quarantine period (at least 14 days prior to the official start of the tournament) could be arranged.
Two facilities will be used for the competition: the Brian Lara Stadium (BLS) in Tarouba and the Queen’s Park Oval (QPO). The BLS is expected to host games during the first and last third of the League—including the semis and finals—while the QPO will host games during the middle phase of the competition.
To date, the CPL has been contemplated to be conducted without spectators in the stands. But Camacho said if the Covid-19 situation improved to the extent that limited spectator-participation could occur—he didn’t expect that consideration to be determined but for the final third of the tournament- the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) has volunteered to handle the costs associated with those logistics, including ticketing.
“...With the expectation on their part that they could manage costs effectively and maybe raise some funds for their own operations,” Camacho said, “the CPL wouldn’t be averse to that. They don’t want the responsibility for that. Their proposal is predicated upon no people in the stadium, no spectators at all. So this would be a Plan B scenario or an addendum to the plan that the TTCB is putting together for if that was to happen. If they decide to take the risk in an entrepreneurial way, if they make a profit they will bear the benefit of that... but if yuh bust don’t look to the CPL or Government for a bailout.”
The Sir Frank Worrell Ground at UWI SPEC is also expected to be designated a bio-secure controlled-access facility for the purpose of staggered training schedules for the participating teams.
The CPL finally submitted to the Finance and General Purpose (F&GP) committee answers to questions about their proposal Monday evening, and would have forwarded their assessment for Cabinet’s consideration today.
Camacho said the breakdown of the Government’s US$1 million commitment will be decided among various expenses, including security where they expect to cut costs. That will be countered by the increased number of days to house teams here.
“Beyond that (US$1 million), is for their (CPL) account. Obviously when we start to refine (the budget) we might say we don’t really need this, we need more of that, it may change the equation. The Government is going to say ‘we are committed to the US$1 million. That is the size of the pie and how do you want the pie to be sliced’.”
Camacho said the CPL‘s major revenue will come from the sale of television broadcast rights to the international audiences where they can market the CPL as the first international T20 to be staged this year.
“It would be great because despite T&T having the best success rate in managing this Covid in the world, people can actually now see real live day-to-day sporting action,” Camacho said. “Sporting people in general will welcome that. It will be quite a thing for the country.”