OAA executive director Yvonne Mullins discussed plans of renovating the track with Northern Marianas Sports Association officials when she and OAA president Geoff Gardner, vice president Trevor Spittle, and treasurer Titana Juventin visited Saipan early this month. NMA and Northern Marianas Sports Association then responded to the call for repairing the facility by announcing the availability of the Community Development Block Grant from the Northern Marianas Housing Corp. The grant will be used for the resurfacing of the track and replacement of the 4-foot fence at the southern boundary of the Oleai Sports Complex. NMSA is in the process of completing the paperwork needed to secure the release of the fund.
Mullins said OAA is expecting the resurfacing of the track to finish sometime in early 2015.
“Hopefully renovation would start soon so we could consider Saipan as host of the Micronesian regionals,” Mullins said.
Mullins is also advising the public not to use the track for it is still unsafe with all the black patches and bubbles in most parts of the decades-long facility.
Besides Saipan, three other OAA member federations in Micronesia also expressed interest in bidding for the hosting rights of the biennial athletics event. Mullins said Guam, Palau, and Pohnpeii are also interested to bring the regional competition at their own backyard.
“Saipan will have tough competitions. Pohnpei has a brand new track and Guam has a couple of new tracks. They are potential hosts also,” added Mullins.
Mullins said Saipan has hosted really good events in the past and OAA believes it is capable of handling another big competition, like the Micronesian championships.
However, everything is put on hold as of the moment because of the condition of the track facility.
She said that resurfacing of the track needs to be done before the Northern Mariana Athletics submits a formal bid.
“Saipan is interested in bidding to host the 2017 area championships. But for them to bid, the track needs to get the Level II certification. It used to have that and NMA just needs to get the certification back,” Mullins said.
Gardner added the OAA welcomed the idea of Saipan hosting the 2017 event. “It will be great for CNMI athletics and OAA loves to come here for events. Saipan has shown it can handle not only the regional championships, but also the Oceania Championships.”
“We expect to see a new track here in the next six to eight months. It will give Saipan the assurance when it bids to host the 2017 Micronesian Championships,” Gardner added.
The OAA president said once the resurfacing of the track is completed, the NMA could also bid to bring the Oceania Championships on Saipan and it could be a dry run for the 2021 Pacific Mini Games.
“OAA will offer support we can give all the way to the Mini Games. We love coming here. It is a great venue—it has great people.” (Jon Perez)