Jamaica’s sports industry could benefit from wider international exposure, following discussions between the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, and officials of U.S. sports network, ESPN International.
In an interview with JIS News, Minister Grange expressed enthusiasm that “ESPN is in for a long haul with Jamaica, willing to work with us to build on what is there.”
The Minister was special guest on a recent cruise event – ESPN Super Bowl at Sea with Royal Caribbean International – at the invitation of Bernard Stewart, Senior Vice President, ESPN Caribbean and Maritime Media.
Minister Grange indicated that ESPN Caribbean was in the process of building relationships with individual countries in the region.
Regarding Jamaica, she said that the preliminary discussions were focused on the exploration of how best to create regionalised sports entertainment that ensures the right content for sports fans, operators and advertisers, while being the right model for financial success.
In Jamaica, ESPN Caribbean is distributed by the FLOW cable network.
“ESPN recognises that its continued success, as a leader in sports entertainment in the Caribbean, comes from our ability to forge meaningful relationships that offer relevant information about content of interest to sport fans in the region,” Mr. Bernard said.
“Our goal is to make innovative use of new technology platforms to deliver quality regional events, and compelling news and lifestyle stories about sports, both in Jamaica and around the world, on ESPN’s international networks,” he continued.
While content of interest could entail a focus on sporting events in various disciplines, such as track and field, football, and cricket, the Minister added that projects under discussion would also take into consideration the Jamaican sports calendar, like the Jamaica International Invitational Meet, Boys and Girls Championships, as well as events scheduled for the Greenfield Stadium, Trelawny, including a Calypso Cricket tournament.
Miss Grange disclosed that her Ministry was in exploratory discussions with ESPN Caribbean, regarding how best to join forces to support a special event dubbed “Jamaica Night”, which would feature Jamaican culture and sports products.
She also indicated that ESPN Caribbean was looking at opportunities to showcase local athletes, with news and informational features and reports, as they participate in international events in the United States and United Kingdom.
“This is a relationship where we would work to identify a financial model that would support the creation of events focusing on Brand Jamaica, with the objective to promote the island as a destination and Jamaican sports personalities,” she added.
Further discussions will follow, shortly, to outline timelines for programming and to look at business opportunities, as well.
The Minister also held preliminary discussions with officials of the Seminole Tribe in Florida, regarding the development of entertainment projects in Jamaica. One of the holdings of the Seminole Tribe in the USA is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a large scale entertainment destination in Hollywood, Florida.
The Minister was accompanied on the weekend tour by Mr. Lenford Salmon, consultant on Major Cultural Events in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.