The San Juan Daily Star
FEMA approves $16 million for repairs at island sports venues
By The Star Staff
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently approved nearly $16 million to repair Raymond Dalmau Coliseum in Quebradillas and other sports venues, so that the structures can recover from damage as a result of Hurricane Maria.
“There is already over $1.1 billion that the agency has earmarked to address emergency measures and permanent repairs at parks and recreational facilities throughout the island,” FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José G. Baquero said. “Following the repairs to these coliseums, the municipalities and communities will be able to resume activities required for their development. We’re not only talking about sports: coliseums also serve as distribution centers and shelters during hurricane season, among other important functions.”
For Raymond Dalmau Coliseum, nearly $3.6 million was allocated to repair the roof, cafeteria, offices, parking lot, storage room and training room, among other areas. The project’s mitigation measures will reinforce sliding doors, parking fences and the roof.
The repairs will result in a safer and more welcoming space for basketball fans. Luis Gabriel Miranda Ramos, general manager of the Quebradillas Pirates of the National Superior Basketball league, said it is important for residents to have the coliseum available and nearby since many of the fans arrive on foot or even by bike. Miranda Ramos also highlighted the income that the franchise generates for Quebradillas: six months of work for many families, in addition to the economic impact that is distributed in restaurants and inns around the region.
“Sports are everything for Quebradillas and the Pirates are the brand that has represented the town for almost 100 years,” he said. “All the towns are distinguished by different things, but I believe that Quebradillas is the only town on the island that stands out for its basketball team.”
For fans of the franchise, the team stands out for its passion and longevity. Juan Antonio Hernández says that one of the things he enjoys most about going to the coliseum is the community’s integration and being able to go with his mother, who passed on to him her passion for the Pirates. For Henry Lugo and Daisy Tosado, another aspect that excites them about the games is the fan’s warmth and euphoria.
“Once the gates open, the arena is always full,” Tosado said. “Even if we are losing, the fans always keep going.”
The new repairs will also allow for the continuation of other minor league volleyball and basketball activities, as well as community emergency response training workshops, cooperative and public employee union assemblies, American Red Cross blood drives, screening tests, and vaccinations. It also serves as a distribution center during hurricane season.