ON $21.2M GRANT FOR OLEAI SPORTS COMPLEX

Torres: Athletes can now dream big

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Government officials, led by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, and member of the sports community pose for a photo after the official announcement of the U.S Economic Development Administration grant that would transform the Oleai Sports Complex to a world-class facility within the Pacific region. (Kimberly B. Esmores)

With the recent approval of the $21.2-million grant by the U.S Economic Development Administration that would fund the transformation of the Oleai Sports Complex, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said it will give CNMI athletes a dream to pursue.

In an interview during the official announcement of the EDA grant yesterday at the Oleai Sports Complex, Torres said the revamping of the Oleai Sports Complex into a world-class facility is going to give CNMI athletes a home to hone their abilities and dream big.

“It’s going to give our athletes a dream to pursue. It’s also going to give us a better place to call home in terms of sports tourism, local sports, and it will also give our athletes the opportunity expand on their abilities,” he said.

In addition, the new state-of-the-art sports complex, once built, will allow the CNMI to invite international competition over and allow the CNMI to host events on a larger scale.

“Now we can invite international competition and even regional competition. We’re going to have the Pacific Mini Games next year and we’re hoping to host bigger events,” he said.

The most important of all, Torres said the grant will build a place that will bring families together.

“All together, it’s about putting health and family as a priority. We want to promote sports and bring families together,” he said.

In a statement, Northern Marianas Sports Association president Jerry Tan said the EDA grant will encourage federations to continue to level-up in terms of sports administration.

“NMSA encourages its member-federations to level up in terms of sports administration and national athletes and coaches development, grassroots, and inter-scholastic programs and having the Oleai Sports Complex undergo a major transformation through the EDA grant will help them achieve these goals and more,” Tan said.

With world-class facilities, he said athletes and coaches will also be better prepared for competitions.

“We can bring in more students and young athletes to various sports programs, widening the pool of talents we can develop for the national team and prepare for athletics scholarship opportunities. The transformation will also provide our community a safer and suitable venue to conduct activities that promote a healthy and active lifestyle,” he said.

Also, Tan said one of NMSA’s long-term goals is to be self-sufficient by generating revenue through the operations of the Oleai Sports Complex and with the EDA grant, it would help NMSA build a world-class facility that would allow the CNMI to host off-island teams for their training camps and related activities.

“We used to have Japanese and Korean professional baseball teams coming over for Winter training and we could have them back and attract new groups to help promote The Marianas as a sports tourism and world-class destination,” he said.

Ultimately, the future transformation of the Oleai Sports Complex into one of the world-class facilities in the region will definitely have a big impact to the CNMI sporting community, the CNMI economy, and the health and wellness of CNMI residents. “Together, these will lead to a better quality of life for all who call The Marianas home,” he said.

Tan would like to thank the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the approval of the grant that would help transform the Oleai Sports Complex into a world-class facility.

He also gives recognition to Torres, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Office of Planning and Development, and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) for their assistance on the project. Tan also gives credit to previous NMSA leadership, specifically director Laurie Peterka, for putting together all the sports federations’ proposals.

In a nutshell, renovation and rehabilitation of the existing Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium will include repairing and enhancing storm resiliency and improve the building. Construction will include roofing resistant to 190 miles per hour winds and a second-floor with an office space and conference rooms.

A separate concrete storage facility (approximately 10 ft. x 20 ft.) will also be constructed to be associated with the gym and track.

The grant would also cover the construction of an Olympic-size swimming pool with associated facilities such as a cantilevered roof, electronic timers, pumps, piping, water storage, spectator bleachers, locker rooms, and utility rooms.

Two International Tennis Federation tennis courts with associated facilities such as warm-up walls, fencing, and bleachers will also be covered by the grant.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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