With today’s start of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the Oleai Sports Complex will now transition from a government-run facility into a sports complex managed by the Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association.
NMASA president Michael White said the Commonwealth’s umbrella sports organization is ready to take over the facility, which encompasses the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Baseball Field, Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Softball Field, and the Oleai Sports Complex Field.
“We’re as ready as we can be given the fact that our budget was approved very late and we have a very inadequate budget. There also really wasn’t much coordination as there should’ve been,” he said.
NMASA was earmarked $193,228 for fiscal year 2014.
“We’ve appointed Tony Rogolofoi as the person in charge of the gym and he will take care of everything that needs to be done for the transition.”
Sadly, White said, none of the current staff of the Division of Sports and Recreation would transition to NMASA.
“They’re all civil service. You can’t blame them for not wanting to leave the government and go into essentially an employer where they can be fired without notice at all if they don’t perform. Their civil service jobs are protected and the government is obligated to find jobs for them somewhere else. So I can’t blame them for not wanting to stay. We will be hiring our own staff.”
Joe Mettao, who has worked for DSR the past 15 years, said he would miss working for the division. He said his fondest memory is being involved with children who are active in sports.
White said NMASA is awaiting the Legislature’s approval of House Bill 18-11 that would revamp the entire governing structure of NMASA and rename it the Northern Marianas Sports Association.
“It would set it up to the same lines as the U.S. Olympic Committee as set up by the U.S. Congress.”
Among other things, the bill would allow NMASA to raise funds currently not available to them, he said.
“The budget that the Legislature passed was seriously inadequate. I can’t blame them as money is scarce. We need the authority to raise our own funds for the benefit of the public that uses the Oleai Sports Complex.”
An idea being floated around is allowing NMASA to sell alcoholic beverages at the Oleai Sports Complex.
“One of the things that we’re talking about—and no decision has been made—is whether or not we’re going to permit the sale of alcohol and beverage in the premises. We all know that in a government-managed facility we can’t do that but we’re going to look and see if we have the authority and whether we want to do that. It’s a potential big new source of revenue for us and we can obtain sponsorships that we don’t have the ability to do now.”