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Monday, April 21, 2014

DCCA rescinds sports complex closure order

After a public outcry on its decision to close the Oleai Sports Complex over the next two months, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with the Division of Sports and Recreation, submitted a new updated schedule for the municipal facility yesterday, which now allows public access to the compound, albeit at specified times during the visiting LG Twins’ spring training sessions.

Just this past Wednesday after a 10-day waiting period, DCCA Secretary, Melvin Faisao claimed the whole situation was a simple mistake and apologized for the discrepancy, stating that the original notice was, “inadvertently sent with an oversight.”

The LG Twins is a professional baseball team from South Korea that has been holding its spring training program on Saipan since the 1990s.

The Korean group was originally granted exclusive access to the entire facility from Dec. 2 to Dec. 23 and again from Jan. 1, 2013 to Feb. 9. A hard copy of the original announcement of the closings was never officially received, rather DSR director Jojo Attao communicated the details over the phone on behalf of the two parties. During the conversation, Attao stated he was going to send Saipan Tribune the official press release, but failed to do so.

Faisao has since rescinded the original and “unauthorized” memo closing the Oleai Sports Complex to the public for the exclusive use of the LG Twins.

A number of local sporting organizations such as the Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association and its member organizations Northern Marianas Athletics, Basketball Association of the NMI, Northern Marianas Football Association, and a host of others raised concern about the closings and expressed interest in learning more about the terms of the DCCA and DSR’s annual agreements with LG Twins, which have remained a well-kept secret over the years.

After the news broke last week, NMASA president Michael White offered his displeasure and stated, “DCCA is certainly aware that CNMI law vests responsibility for operation and management of the Oleai Sports Complex to NMASA. Yet DCCA does not even afford NMASA the courtesy of consultation when it make secret deals like this.”

Though Faisao assured that the LG Twins’ yearly visits significantly do benefit the CNMI community, he didn’t present any actual data.

He said the fees paid by LG Twins goes to the general fund “for the benefit of the CNMI.”

“Once the money is deposited into the general fund, it becomes an additional revenue generating funds, which will be at the digression of the CNMI Legislature to appropriate once the Executive Branch submits the annual budget for a given respective year,” he said.

Faisao did say that the professional baseball team pays the CNMI government $200 a day for utilization of the community fields, in addition to a pair of weekly fuel purchases as added donations, and a $56 nightly fee to light Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Baseball Field and the Oleai Track & Field during its evening training sessions.

Faisao also mentioned two possible renovation projects spearheaded by the LG Twins potentially being the bullpen and the batting tunnel, though he indicated DSR’s Attao as the person of reference in regards to specifying the LG Twins’ goodwill donations and renovations.

Under DCCA’s new schedule, NMIFA was granted time to use the soccer field from 5pm to 9pm starting tomorrow through Dec. 30, while starting Dec. 8, BANMI’s Elias Rangamar has scheduled hours to conduct athletics and basketball activities at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium from 5pm to 9pm.

Tan Ko and Miguel “Tan Ge” Pangelinan baseball dields will be available for Saipan Little League Baseball, Inc. practices weekly from 4pm to 6pm from Monday through Thursday with Saturday sessions permitted from 2pm to 5pm; open hours for the fields are also available, all-day, on Sundays.

Additionally, women’s softball practices are reserved for Friday’s from 4pm to 6pm.

In fact, the only days the fields will not be available are Dec. 8, 9, 16, and 23.

Notably, SLLBI’s Jets have somehow already reserved the field during the Monday and Wednesday windows with the Survivors already booked on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For more information about the Oleai Sports Complex’s hours of operations, contact Attao at 664-2508.

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