A photoshoot for Dancehall artist Stylo G has sparked controversy after two racing cars were spotted driving on the 400 metres synthetic running track at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Thursday.
National race-car driver Doug ‘Hollywood’ Gore has confirmed that he was the driver of one of the two cars at the stadium located in Catherine Hall, a stone’s throw from the venue of Reggae Sumfest.
Gore also told The Gleaner newspaper that he was contacted by Good Good Productions record label and a UK-based promotion company to do a photo shoot for Stylo G, and that after meeting at another location for the first part of the shoot, he was asked to visit to the stadium to do a second part.
He also issued an apology after Mayor of Montego Bay Leeroy Williams condemned the act and said that no request was made and “absolutely no permission was granted for such an activity to take place at the stadium” and none would ever be given.
The billion-dollar stadium, which was officially opened in June 2010 has been closed to track and field since 2018.
It was a gift from the Government of Venezuela to the people of western Jamaica, under the San Jose Accord, but has rarely been used over the years and has been plagued by a lack of maintenance, and even began falling into disrepair a mere two years after its opening.
According to The Gleaner, Gore had said that after he arrived at the stadium, he was surprised to see that the crew “had access to the actual track and field area” but that since he knew that no track and field activities have taken place at the complex for more than five years, he did not doubt their explanation that they “had access” to the area.
He also said that the fact that three gates were unlocked for the crew to gain access to the track, there was nothing that came to his mind “to say that this is something that was being done illegally or any malice was being done at the time.”
On Friday, The Gleaner reported that while track athletes in western Jamaica have been denied the use of the 400-metre synthetic running track at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall for the past five years, racing cars had been spotted in a video speeding around the track early Thursday morning.
The video which was filmed by an onlooker showed the two cars being driven on the track, as another person gleefully stats that Gore had “got back the curve.”
However, in response to the popular outcry on social media over the alleged misuse of the track, Montego Bay disc jockey and music producer Neil “DJ Crazy Neil” Barnes had argued that it was much ado about nothing.
“That damn track couldn’t even host an Olympic Mountain Goat race. Cars and trucks drive on it all the time when setting up for events. The drivers in the music video were barely going 10 miles an hour. No damage was done. This is clearly something personal or political. That’s why Jamaica and mobay cya get better. They stifle creativity in this place. No matter who rich or who poor, this is foolishness to make a big deal out of,” he said.
“The damn track nuh even use fi 5 year. Mobay athletes still haffi a run pon dirt track a school back so when dem go town den nuh know how fi compete. Low fi ra** man… LOW DI MAN!!!” he added on Instagram.
By July 2012, a mere two years after its grand opening, The Star tabloid had reported that the J$1.4 billion stadium, for which the St. James Municipal Corporation has oversight, was rapidly falling into a state of disrepair due to a lack of maintenance, and appeared abandoned.
Several promises by the Government of Jamaica over the years to repair the athletics track, which is the lone international standard track in western Jamaica, have remained unfulfilled, resulting in athletes from the region with no suitable facility to train or compete.
In 2018, following its closure to track and field, out of fear that it could cause injury to athletes, events such as the Western Relays, the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA) Western Champs, and the Western Primary Championships have had to be moved out of the region, resulting in a decimation of track and field programmes there, according to track officials.