Monday, February 19, 2018

Chaos outside Oval


MIX-UP: Ticketholders make their way into the Republic Bank Stand yesterday at the Queen’s Park Oval for the final of the Nagico Super50 between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

Mark Fraser

Chaos instead of cricket was the scene outside the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain yesterday as hundreds of spectators hoping to see Trinidad and Tobago battle Barbados in the Nagico Super50 final were denied entry for several hours because of overcrowding.

The match was scheduled to start at 2 p.m., and while the early patrons were able to comfortably settle, up to three hours later several confused ticketholders were still stranded outside as fire wardens sealed off the Oval’s entry gates.

Undeterred, many cricket diehards pleaded with officials, waving their tickets as proof they should be allowed to enter, despite missing more than half of Barbados’ batting innings.

While some clamoured at the gates, others wandered around the Oval seeking another entry point.

The largest crowd was on Elizabeth Street, entrance to the Carib/KFC/Royal Bank stands, growing larger as more people came, meeting closed doors then milling about trying to figure out a new plan.

“We should have gone to a movie instead,” one woman complained.

Two men carrying a cooler said they would try to find some other way in. Another said he was going to leave and hope that he would get a refund.

Finally, around 4.15 p.m., a policeman directed the crowd around the corner to St Clair Avenue to the Learie Constantine stand, but there was little relief, just a transfer of bodies.

But as a messenger of hope, a spectator shouted to the crowd from the stands, saying, “They were allowing people on to the greens”, the former Dos Santos stand area.

Spectators started circling the walls of the Oval in search of this entry.

At around 4.30 p.m. West Indies A Team manager Colin Borde, who came out to meet some of his guests, almost became the target for what was slowly starting to become an angry crowd.

“I walking around for an hour with two small children,” one man shouted at him.

“I have my ticket, why I can’t go inside,” yelled another.

Shocked by the outbursts—and the fact there were so many people still outside, Borde distanced himself from the debacle, saying the West Indies Cricket Board only organised the venue, but the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board was responsible for selling tickets.

Nonetheless, he still attempted to help determine the reason for the lock out.

Around 4.50 p.m., the gates reopened to let people in.

TTCB president Azim Bassarath told the Sunday Express yesterday that the Fire Services took the decision to close the gates because of the crowds but later allowed patrons to enter after it was determined there was room for them. He said 8,000 tickets were sold.