FEMA allocates $15M to repair athletic facilities in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s most iconic sporting venues will soon begin to undergo structural repairs through a $15 million allocation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency announced.
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 FEMA funds assigned to cover damage related to Hurricane María in 2017.
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 several swim clubs and other aquatic training groups.
It encourages family interaction
Wilton Vargas, CEO
“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 island,” 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, said Sara Rosario-Vélez, president of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, known as COPUR.
“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 venue for some sports that don’t necessarily have the space in the western area, 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, government officials said.
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 amateur boxing pre-selection team.
The Baldrich courts, the only location where the island’s field hockey team is able to train, will receive a $2.2 million grant for upgrades, the federal agency said.
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 more than $954,000 for the Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum.