With Marianas Visitors Authority stepping up to the plate, Northern Marianas Sports Association is positive that the long-awaited resurfacing work at the Oleai Sports Complex’s track and field facility will start soon.
MVA will give NMASA $240,000 for the resurfacing project, which is estimated to cost more than $900,000.
“MVA Board of directors approved the expenditure of $240K to help with the cost of rehabilitating the track. I believe NMASA had funding commitment from NMHC which was insufficient so they approached the Board for assistance,” MVA manager director Chris Concepcion said in an email sent to Saipan Tribune last Wednesday.
NMSA, through the Northern Marianas Housing Corporation, was awarded $905,112.80 from the Community Development Block Grant funds for the resurfacing project, but had a shortfall of over $200, 000, according to NMSA executive director Tony Rogolifoi.
“The total cost for the track resurfacing is $990.000 (lowest bidder). NMSA was awarded a total of $905,112.80 of CDBG funds for the project, but $159,800.00 was deducted for payment of the A&E design done by Henry Pangelinan and Associates, an engineering firm, which leaves us with $745,312.80, or about $250,000.00 short,” Rogolifoi said.
“Because of the shortage of funds resulting in the delay of project, the housing corporation extended another 90 days for us to find the shortfall. We approached MVA to seek assistance and they responded in the affirmative. MVA will foot the balance and they are currently in communication with NMHC for the release of the funding. We extend our appreciation to MVA for their assistance. We can now move forward with the project,” the NMSA official added.
Concepcion said the MVA board decided to help in the resurfacing project as it will be beneficial to the sports community and the tourism industry.
“The funds came from our Destination Enhancement budget and had the full support of the Destination Enhancement Committee. The Board decided to support given our focus on sports tourism—tourists often use the track, and sporting teams from overseas use it for training. The South Pacific Mini Games are coming up in a few years (2021), plus the locals use it as well. It is a certified world class track according to NMSA so it’s a win-win for everyone,” Concepcion said.
The Oleai track was built in early 2000 and received certification from the International Association of Athletics Federation, but it has deteriorated in the last three years with bubbles forming all over the rubberized surface. The facility serves as a venue for local athletics tournaments, while baseball teams from Korea also use it for their training sessions. Last month, South Korean triathletes preparing for this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil also ran at the track.
A firm based in Australia checked the facility early this year and said that it will take a minimum of three months to complete the resurfacing project.
“With respect to the timeline, it’s up to the housing corporation when they will award the bid,” Rogolifoi said.
NMHC is still doing the paper works for the project and told Saipan Tribune to check for updates after two weeks.