Northern Marianas Sports Association is looking at a long-term goal when it submitted a 10-project proposal to the CNMI Office of the Planning and Development.
The proposal, which was turned in last month and is now included on the 2014-2019 Draft CNMI Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Project Listing, aimed at giving the Commonwealth suitable facilities for the hosting of the 2021 Pacific Mini Games. The projects, which involved construction and enhancement of facilities, will also be use for the development of athletes and to boost the Commonwealth’s economy through sports tourism once the Mini Games is done.
“When we made the proposal, we looked beyond the Pacific Mini Games. We want something that would be useful for us for years and would benefit the athletes and our economy,” said NMSA official Laurie Peterka, who prepared the proposal with the help of Ed Arriola and Nick Gross.
On top of the proposed project list is the enhancement of the Oleai Sports Complex, which will be the main hub for the 2021 Pacific Mini Games and has hosted local and international competitions for the last three decades. The complex suffered massive damage both from Super Typhoon Yutu and Soudelor and under NMSA’s proposal, a funding of $7.7 million would give the facility the major facelift it needed and would accommodate more sports, plus entice vendors and other groups looking for venues for their events.
Also part of the proposal are the construction of the NMI Aquatics Complex (Koblerville) and upgrading of the pool in Marpi with the cost of the project pegged at $3.8 million.
Swimming is one of the sports to be offered in the 2021 Pacific Mini Games, but right now the CNMI has no pool after the Kan Pacific Swimming Pool shut down in September last year. For now, Saipan swimmers are practicing at the 25-yard pool in the Pacific Islands Club Saipan and in open waters.
Besides the aquatics center and sports complex, NMSA is also proposing to have a tennis center, canoe house complex, beach volleyball courts, facilities for Public School System, the Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association, and Northern Marianas College, construct a sports complex at the Coral Ocean Point property, and upgrade the Koblerville Gymnasium.
The NMSA list is included on the 198 project proposals for the CNMI’s 5-year economic development plan. They will be reviewed and ranked and federal agencies will decide if a project qualifies for a particular federal program, especially under the U.S. Economic Development Authority, according to Peterka.