OBA: ‘Poor Planning’ Of National Aquatics Centre

December 10, 2012

It “has become obvious” that Government did not have a feasibility study done before it built the Aquatics Centre as it will cost $98,000 to heat per month and will close in the winter months because it is too expensive to heat, OBA candidate C Anthony Francis said.

Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney previously said: “Whenever the PLP invests in our people, we are attacked and obstructed by the OBA. Given their track record, we are not surprised that their candidate would criticise the Aquatic Center now.

Mr Francis said: “It has become obvious that Government did not have a business plan or feasibility study done before it built the $20 million National Aquatics Centre.

“Responding to my questions concerning the monthly operating costs of the facility, the guest worker chief executive officer, Bernie Asbell, has revealed that the monthly BELCO bill for the pool during the warmest months will be $98,000.

“He has further revealed that the pool will close in the winter months because it is too expensive to heat.
The only way Bermudians will be able to swim in the pool during the winter months is if the facility is able to attract international swim teams or organisations during those months in order to subsidise the cost of operating the pool.

“It is completely unacceptable that Government has spent $20 million of taxpayer money on the Aquatics Centre — $5 million over the original budgeted cost — without carefully considering the pool’s monthly operating costs to make sure it remains open year-round.

“This poor planning falls at the feet of the Minister of Sports, and no one else. It is, unfortunately, a hallmark of the current Government,” continued Mr Francis.

“Once again, we ask the Minister of Youth, Sports and Families, Glenn Blakeney, to reveal the total monthly operating costs of the facility, including staff costs, chemicals, and maintenance.

“We also note that, according to Bermuda’s top aquatics coaches and athletes, the eight-lane pool is unsuitable for its main purposes. They have said that it is too deep for a community pool; does not have warm-up or warm-down facilities, meaning it cannot host top events like the Carifta Games because they require either a 10-lane pool or warm-up/warm-down areas; is not suitable for the needs of competitive swimmers because divers will also use the pool, meaning competitive swimmers won’t get the pool time they require for proper training; and, in terms of competitive swimming, is not a ‘fast pool’ because the deep end is too deep.

“Bermuda’s taxpayers deserve better than the way this project was managed by the Government with its record of delays, cost overruns and poor planning. It’s time for change,” concluded Mr Francis.

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Comments (27)

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  1. RFK JFK MLK says:

    Well at least BELCO is happy.

  2. Watcher says:

    Who’s going to be the first poor sucker to dive off thast high board when the wind is blowing hard up there. They’ll need to aim about 4 feet on the outside of the pool to make sure they hit the water. No idea what they were thiniking about not putting walls and a roof on this facility

  3. Al says:

    Let’s not forget that this is effectively $20 million more debt – so add a million dollars a year of interest payments as well. So we’ve got a pool that costs over $2 million a year to operate.

  4. jt says:

    I can tell you that the clubs are sitting back and waiting to hear what their fees will be before they do anything to disrupt the arrangement they have at Warwick and Saltus.

    $98,000 per month means $3266 per day in fees to cover just electricity, but there are other regular fees for pool maintenance and salaries for 6 staff, so $4000/day is not at all unrealistic. Very hard to see how they can cover operational costs.

  5. LestWeForget says:

    This was a UBP initiative. How long was the UBP “planning” to build this facility? The money had been set aside but all of you businessmen out there would understand inflation and the fact that the cost of doing business in Bermuda has gone up so I’m not surprised that the cost of building the pool has gone up. I think it should be covered. Maybe BASA can fund that.

    • Zombie Apocalypse says:

      Still blaming the UBP? The project was announced in 2008 by the PLP Sports Minister, Glenn Blakeney. In 2010, when work was started, he said the cost would be $15m, and the facility would be opened in June 2012.

      Typical PLP liars. When a project turns to sh!t you all start blaming the UBP. When are you going to grow a pair and take responsibility for your own screw ups?

      • Cha says:

        Not to mention it is not international standard (50m with a separate diving pool) good luck getting an abundance of international events here. $10 says that if we ever host the Caribbean games again the swimming will still be held else where. Dreamers.

      • de ja vodoo says:

        RIGHT ON!!!

    • Back to Life, Back to Reality says:

      Yes, but the UBP were voted out – because the PLP said they were not doing a good job. Remember – “MAKE IT HAPPEN – VOTE PLP” I only wish I knew what they meant at the time.

      They (PLP) had how many years to look “the UBP initiative” over and make improvements?!! So please stop blaming the UBP. If the PLP was not going to make improvements to Bermuda and our way of life – and “make it happen”, I wish they would have left the UBP in – at least we would not be hundreds of millions of dollars in debt!

    • jt says:

      Maybe football and cricket have some of their well used millions left over to help?

  6. Slow Down Bda says:

    Well, if there had been a roof, solar could be an option…

  7. Let me get this str8 says:



    My favorite part of the above 2010 article is this statement from Min. Blakeney:

    “I am pleased to say that we are ‘all systems go’ and it is anticipated that the facility will be ready for the Island Games in 2013, which will be hosted right here in Bermuda.”

    or this one

    “All components of this Aquatics Centre will be sanctioned by the international swimming governing body known as FINA and will be suitable for the competitive aquatic sports of swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming,” explained Chairman of the National Sports Centre Mr. Sean Tucker.

    Guess the Bermuda public had to be deceived once again by the PLP? Since the pool is not up to FINA standards it cannot be used for Carifta or any other professional swimming event. So in essence the PLP simply built a $20 million community pool.


    “The ground breaking for the Aquatics Center took place today [Oct 21] at the National Sports Center in Devonshire. The facility is expected to take just over 18 months to finish, at a cost in the region of $16 million which the Government has already provided funding for.”

    Definitely the UBP’s fault.

    Isn’t the internet just wonderful?

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Sure is. It catches the politicians out every time.

  8. island girl says:

    Does anyone know what was in the original plans for the stadium? I believe the track was begun around 1985/86 with he grandstand being built a few years later. The hockey pitch was not in the original plans..that should have been the parking area…so parking was scrapped to put in the pitch.. and so a parking lot was shelved or so it seems.
    I don’t believe the pool was in the original plans either! So, regardless of who is to blame, the whole thing is a shameful debacle.

  9. Amazed says:

    Mr Francis can’t tie his shoes by himself so I can’t put any stock in anything he has to say! He is just spouting off to get his name in the papers. The only olympic diver we have had in years has already given the facility her blessing. If the swimming faternity is unhappy then they are able to speak with their feet i.e. not use the facility and continue doing what they have always done. Time will tell!

    • Verbal Kint says:

      You are joking, right? It’s okay with you if the swimming fraternity doesn’t use this, then you and I have to pay for all of it. AFTER the Gov’t ignored the swim clubs? I’m the one who is Amazed. It’s irrelevant whether Mr. Francis can or can’t tie his shoes. What he says is correct. This is an expensive debacle that is going to cost Bermudians a LOT of money.

  10. Nosey says:

    This idea had been proposed before I moved to the island in 1996….it was going to be done years ago! And wasn’t it meant to be 50m so that it was an olympic sized pool to be able to host international events? Those who are actively involved in sporting community need to be listened to! What an expensive mistake

  11. I hear the lies says:

    i hear that tynes bay has plenty of steam to heat the pool and entire property that holds both fields to make it summer time all year round up there why was that never discussed sounds a hell of a lot cheaper than paying belco but than anything that make proper sense seems to be disregarded by those in charge

  12. Many years ago the initial plan was not endorsed by the Swimming community and again prior to this pool being built. The major end user – Competitive Swimming (where most of the money would be coming from to support the Aquatics Centre) has complained about the design to no avail. The Trustees have not listened to the the End user and have instead listened to the Designer Bob Johnson on what is best for Bermuda???

    As we only have 1 shot to build a Aquatic facility please tell me why we would build something that we cannot showcase to the World and have World class events here in Bda as part of Sports Tourism?

    Yes the pool can be FINA certified as a 25M pool (and as a 8x50M pool) but World wide everyone is looking for a 10x50M pool with a warm up pool.

    Sure the Trustees have said phase 2 is the warm up pool but if it has taken this long get what we have Lord knows our great grand children will not be seeing the warm up pool.

    Fire the Trustees and Bob Johnson for building such and fire the Sports Minister for not having the “Testicular fortitude” to see through all of this!!!

  13. truth be told says:

    Pay for Heat? Belco usues electricity to reject MASSIVE amounts heat on a DAILY basis….

    Why arent we using this heat to hmmm say heat water? SMH

  14. Opressed says:

    This pool thing has been touted for the past two weeks by the PLP like it’s the second coming of christ. With all this publicity surrounding an empty pool, you ALL know, we’re getting the shallow end of it.

    • STAY FOCUSED says:

      i wonder if any of those awsome thinking money spending minds thaught of a solar panel warming system.to try and avoid the whole belco bill issue.
      after all we are in fact the sunny little island in the middle of the atlantic.
      im sure if they asked some ideas of our elementary level kids ,they would have had better solutions.
      i wish government would stop throwing money around like a kid in a toy shop.

      • STAY FOCUSED says:

        why are we constantly exposed to the aftermath of these big money spending bloopers all the time?
        i feel that if we are asked every four years to cast a vote towards the selection of a party of people
        to represent and carry out the needs and concerns of the Bermuda public.
        Then we should also be asked to cast a vote towards how,what,when and where the peoples money
        is being invested.

  15. STAY FOCUSED says:

    Belco is useing energy AND MONEY to get rid of heat everyday.THE SAME HEAT THAT COULD BE USED FOR GOVERNMENTS NEW SWIMMING POOL…
    the hotel industry spends money on dumpster and sanitation companies to
    throw away good food everyday of the year.

  16. Play Ground says:

    I think they should not have built it in the first place no matter what party it is. And all you that are doing the most complaning I wonder who would be in the pool the most.

  17. Bazinga! says:

    Amateur hour apparently and it just shows where the best and the brightest are not…

  18. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    I still remember the decisions that were made by Minister Blakeney about how this pool was to be built, in the face of numerous recommendations to the contrary. He was advised about size, he was advised that pre-formed was more appropriate than concrete, he was advised about the need for warm-up/cool-down pools, he was advised (though why he should need to be advised about this) that changing rooms were essential. To all he turned a deaf ear.

    Because this government has had such a large majority for the last 5 years, they have apparently felt that they didn’t have to listen to anybody about anything. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”