Release Date: October 22, 2020
Release Number: NR 474
The Roberto Clemente Coliseum, the San Juan Natatorium and the Sixto Escobar Park are some of the facilities that will be repaired
GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – Soon we will begin to see the recovery of some of the Island's most well-known sports venues. The Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Sixto Escobar Park, the Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum, the San Juan Natatorium, the Baldrich Club tennis courts and the Dr. José Celso Barbosa Park will be repaired with over $15.3 million in FEMA funds for damage related to Hurricane María.
Just over $7.3 million will help restore the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, which hosts various sporting and entertainment events such as basketball and boxing championships. Similarly, the San Juan Natatorium will be repaired with nearly $2.5 million for the benefit of the students of the Escuela del Deporte and various swim clubs and other aquatic training groups.
"Having rehabilitated facilities encourages family interaction and sports development in our communities. In these structures, outstanding athletes train daily to do their best for our country," said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, José Baquero Tirado.
Rebuilding these facilities places the island in a better position for other competitive events. This is how Sara Rosario Velez, President of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, known as COPUR, expressed her thoughts on the matter while describing the federal investment as an opportunity to highlight the island's sportsmanship at an international level.
"Right now the possibility of Puerto Rico hosting the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2022 is being analyzed and knowing that we can count on these facilities in the metropolitan area could be a relief for some sports that don't necessarily have the space in the west zone, which is where the games would be held," she said.
The economic potential that sports tourism would generate increases as a result of the renovation of these facilities. Along with the benefit to the communities, various federations and athletes that depend on these sports centers, it is estimated that this tourism sector represents about $800 billion worldwide.
Puerto Rican boxers will also benefit from restored facilities at the Sixto Escobar Park, where they are preparing to participate in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. "The repairs are necessary and in turn will motivate athletes to continue their training and have a better quality of preparation," said Tatiana Ortiz Rivera, a member of the National Pre-Selection Team of Amateur Boxing.
In the case of the Baldrich courts, with a grant of more than $2.2 million, they are the only site on the island where the country's field hockey team is able to train.
For his part, the Executive Director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, Ottmar Chávez, mentioned that "the impact that these facilities receive with the recovery funds will allow sports activities and important events to resume, promoting tourism and economic development. Additionally, communities benefit by having their venues repaired for the enjoyment of all. These reconstruction efforts will always continue to promote communication and teamwork between FEMA, COR3 and the sub-recipients."
Federal funding for the other sports centers includes about $1.9 million for the Sixto Escobar Park, $2.9 million for the Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa Park and over $954,000 for the Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum.
To date, FEMA has obligated over $19 billion for costs related to hurricanes Irma and María, including projects to help rebuild infrastructure throughout Puerto Rico. FEMA works with COR3 through the agency's Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and agencies of the Government of Puerto Rico.
For more on Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane María, visit fema.gov/disaster/4339 and recuperacion.pr. Follow us on our social networks at Facebook.com/FEMAPuertoRico, Facebook.com/COR3pr and Twitter @COR3pr.