It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here once again to the 44th staging of the Gibson McCook Relays. We thank you for taking the time to join us in whatever capacity, sponsor, special guest, technical official, worker, volunteer, vendor, concessionaire, track & field fan or some other role. As well we welcome those who are not here in person but join us on the various media and platforms that have become available with technological advances.
The Organizing Committee is extremely grateful to our sponsors who have remained loyal to us through good times and bad. We continue all efforts to improve the quality of the product to maximize our mutual benefits. Our Presenting Sponsor, PUMA, continues its sterling support for which we are extremely grateful. We are aware of the uncertainties faced by some of our local sponsors and are very grateful that they continue to show faith in us.
Dwindling Live Crowd Support
All of us have noted the dwindling crowds that attend live sporting events at the National Stadium. Indeed, this is not a Jamaica phenomenon. Persons of my vintage who filled the stadium for a schoolboy football match 4-5 decades ago when the population was half what is now, must be puzzled at the Olivier Shield finals for national schoolboy supremacy, being played in front of a half-filled Stadium Grandstand and a virtually empty Bleachers Stands. This picture has been quite consistent for track athletic events except for the Boys and Girls Championships on the Saturday and to a lesser extent on the Friday.
Many explanations have been suggested for this shift in the behaviour of sporting fans, including: too many events competing for time and money; access to other media making live attendance unnecessary; the
unattractiveness of the National Stadium and its facilities; concerns about safety; events are too lengthy; the rather staid if not boring nature of sporting events in the eyes of a generation with short attention span
and which thrives on fast-paced entertainment; and many others. These suggestions are not based on evidence and the GMROC is willing to join with other sporting organizations to carry out the necessary
research to answer these questions. For example, if a large portion of fans are accessing these events via other media then we should be able to measure that shift and eventually monetize and market that audience.
This is critical for our sponsors who must be assured that their products are being adequately exposed to justify the expenditure. Similarly, if other forms of entertainment including music and other gimmicks like “kisscam” or “dance-cam” accompanied by giveaway packages can be shown to increase live attendance then meet organizers should be prepared to make the investment in these initiatives.
We look forward to comments from other sporting bodies and the leadership of the JOA and the JAAA in this venture to identify what indeed will attract fans to sporting venues. The GMROC stands ready to play our part in this endeavour.
At the same time, and until the evidence is in, we agree with the suggestion of many that these events need to be more entertaining and attractive. In this vein, the GMROC will continue the use of recorded music, which was introduced last year, to fill gaps in the days programme.
Further, we have decided to introduce one other attraction: subject to the rules and regulations of the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC). As of GMR 2020 our live audience will have the chance to win
cash gate prizes from draws which take place from among entrance ticket sales. Throughout the day, there will be four (4) draws for J$5,000.00 each and four (4) draws for J$10,000.00 each to be shared equally
between Grandstand and Bleachers patrons. At the end of the evening there will be a draw from the tickets of all patrons together for the grand prize of J$100,000.00 In addition to these new opportunities for the patrons we remind you of the Digicel sponsored cash awards for the meet. These include J$150,000.00 along with the PUMA sponsored the Teddy McCook trophy to the best single performance of the meet from any category; the
J$100,000.00 each to the best overall performing boys and girls schools; and the GMROC sponsored cash awards introduced last year, where any team which breaks a record in a Championship event will be awarded
In addition to these attractions, we are keeping entrance costs the same as last year. Grandstand tickets will be J$3000 and J$2000 for finish-line and other grandstand tickets respectively. In fact, there will be a partial
reduction as while tickets to the Bleachers will remain at J$500 for the general public, students will pay J$300. We prefer for this reduced-cost ticket sale to be done through the Schools and will endeavour to use that
route, but ticket sales personnel will also exercise discretion at our ticket office.
In pursuit of the same objective of attracting a robust live audience, we urge coaches and managers, to, as far as possible, field their best teams. We know that they have been busy in competition since the first week
of January with mainly individual events, striving to make qualifying standards. The athletes are reasonably sharp. Its 4 weeks to Champs finale on March 28, 2020. Let’s bring them all together in an exciting relay carnival, throw down the proverbial gauntlet and set the stage for Champs with your best teams challenging each other one last time before the big day. We also ask our elite athletes, all alumnae of the GMR, to come and participate in his event which has contributed so much to their development. Put the GMR on your agenda and help to preserve its legacy in Jamaican track and field athletics.
Nothing would please us more than a jam-packed National Stadium at 6pm on Saturday 29th February 2020.
We thank you for coming today, for your unstinting support and look forward another successful renewal of the Gibson McCook Relays for 2020