Sabina takes spin at music

May 22, 2017
Busy Signal performing at last year's Red Stripe Beer Festival, held at Sabina Park.
Ladies send a message during Ikel Marvlus' Birthday party at Sabina Park in February.
Patrons party at last month's Alka-Vybz party, held at Sabina Park, Kingston.
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Sabina Park, Kingston, is the home of international cricket in Jamaica. However, the grounds have become a party entertainment hub. Promoters from the Corporate Area seem to have taken over from the players who usually occupy the venue, establishing the historic grounds which recently marked its 50th Test match with a game between Pakistan and the West Indies as the place to host a different type of 'ball game'.

Lights were recently installed at Sabina, allowing the ground to operate during the nights. The facility's managers hoped this would return Sabina to its glory days, but with the historic venue having already tumbled down the list of preferred cricket grounds in the region, a plan B had to be set into motion.

In an interview with the local media following the installation of the lights in 2014, president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), Billy Heaven, explained that it raised the venue's standard, but Sabina Park would have to host other events to maintain the infrastructure. "Cricket and CPL alone cannot justify that capital, so we will have to look at cultural events, we will have to look at music and the whole process of integration as I have always said, to make the lights worthwhile. It's a big capital outlet and so we need to justify it by using it (the park) consistently," Heaven said.

Party promoters with whom The STAR spoke are happy with the decision. Romaine 'Luigi' Brown, promoter of Heineken Daybreak, which was held at the Michael Holding end of Sabina Park, said he has had no issues with the venue. "It's a nice facility for events. It's very versatile as there are many different sections available for use, depending on the type of event you want to host," he said. "It's between neighbouring communities; however, it's built in such a way that the sound is contained. You can only hear the music when you are inside the complex. I don't really follow up cricket, but it (the park) is surely getting a lot more popular for entertainment events.

Brown had reservations about the venue initially because of its proximity to the downtown Kingston area, but has had no security issues so far and doesn't foresee any problems. Brown also pointed out that the successful staging of several events at Sabina Park recently is one of the reasons leading to the growing number of events being hosted there.

He did not want to talk dollars and cents, but said the venue presents value for money, which is paramount in business. "The owner wouldn't't want me to disclose (how much money it costs to book the venue)," he said. "The price is dependent on the section you're renting. The facility is big enough to accommodate huge patronage and it has good infrastructure."

Kamal Bankay of Dream Entertainment, who in association with Magnum held a successful Magnum Live in December 2016 at Sabina Park, agreed with most of Brown's sentiments. Bankay said the venue's size is a huge attraction and parties not disturbing neighbouring communities is a plus.

While stating that depending on the type of event securing the venue may cost a pretty penny, the promoter said the move having the park being used for more than a cricket venue is a step in the right direction "Entertainment is growing and we need venues of all sizes. Most sports venues worldwide are multipurpose," he said.

Among the music events held at Sabina Park are I Love Soca, Magnum Live, Redemption Live, Absinthe, Heineken Daybreak, and Zen Gold.

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