$500K in FEMA funds for sports complex repairs


The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres reported that $505,220 in public assistance funds had been given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the renovation and other repairs of the Oleai Sports Complex.

The Oleai Sports Complex and the facilities inside were heavily damaged when Typhoon Soudelor wrought havoc on Saipan on Aug. 2, 2015. To date, a total of $40,000 was spent for minor repairs and other replacements.

The money was used to fix the lights and other facilities damaged at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Baseball Field.

FEMA’s Public Assistance Office, through Patrick Guerrero and Reina Saures, is working closely with Northern Mariana Sports Association executive director Tony Rogolifoi with the planned projects for the sports complex.

Torres said they are expecting all renovation and other repairs to be completed in time for the 2021 Pacific Mini Games, which Saipan would be hosting. “The administration is rolling out the bidding process for the several elements of the complex.”

Resurfacing of the Oleai track oval was done in June and is now waiting to keep its Level II certification given by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The IAAF certification is needed so the CNMI, through the Northern Marianas Athletics, could bid host IAAF-sanctioned events. Saipan will be hosting the 2018 Micronesian Athletics Championships, while the 2021 Pacific Mini Games will also be held here.

The Oleai track and field stadium was the only Level II certified eight-lane facility in the region, but the facility deteriorated over the years.

NMSA plans to level the field since there are some uneven parts while also putting a new dirt and grass. Fixing the drainage system and replacing the fence is also part of the project.

There are portions of the pitch that are uneven and packed hard. A different mower must also be used to in the maintenance of the grass once it is replaced, to avoid a different type of grass and weed to grow.

The floor of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, where volleyball matches will be held in the Mini Games, will be replaced, while new vents and ceiling panels will also be installed, and the walls repainted.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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