The long-planned improvement project for the Oleai Sports Complex got a needed boost, as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded more than a $1-million grant to the facility.
FEMA will provide $1,678,781.49 in federal funding to the Office of the Governor to repair the damage the Oleai Sports Complex sustained from Super Typhoon Yutu.
“These grants are funded through FEMA’s Public Assistance program which provides grant reimbursement to communities for expenses incurred in the immediate response and the recovery from a disaster,” FEMA said in a press statement.
Yutu slammed the islands on Oct. 24, 2018, leaving the facilities at the sports complex in shambles. The bleachers at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield collapsed, while windows and the roof/ceiling of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium were also damaged, forcing the Northern Mariana Sports Association, the caretaker of the Oleai Sports Complex, to remove the synthetic flooring of the facility. Fences and poles/posts around the complex were brought down, too, while the batting cage at the Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan Ballfield where Little League games take place also bore the brunt of the super typhoon.
Some repairs have been made at the Oleai Sports Complex, including installation of lights at the track and field facility and parking areas, rebuilding of fences, repainting of the administrative office and improvement in the restrooms, post-Yutu. However, major renovations are still needed and expected to start next year since the islands and the rest of the world are now dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
“This funding from FEMA’s Public Assistance Program is crucial to the CNMI’s ability to bring our Oleai Sports Complex back to pre-typhoon condition. We have a shared goal of looking out for our athletes and our commitment to ensuring a space for our citizens to engage in sporting activities and athletic events, as we have done so for decades at the local, regional, and international level. We are thankful to Region IX administrator Bob Fenton and his team here in the CNMI for this FEMA assistance. Our partnership will help us build a stronger Marianas,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said in a press statement.
NMSA echoed Torres’ sentiments, adding that the Oleai Sports Complex is an essential facility in the CNMI.
“The Northern Marianas Sports Association is grateful to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the Governor for this assistance. The Oleai Sports Complex is one of the important facilities in our islands. It is used not only by our athletes, but other members of our community as well, and we, at NMSA, aim to provide our people with a safe and appropriate venue for sports activities, health and wellness programs, and other events that benefit our community,” NMSA president Jerry Tan said.
The NMSA head also acknowledged that improvements at the Oleai Sports Complex will further benefit CNMI athletes and coaches preparing for international and regional competitions as they will be able to utilize the facilities for their training. Regular tournaments on island may also resume once we’re cleared from the COVID-19 crisis and repairs have been made.