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Revamped Dockyard to take centre stage

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Dockyard will be ready to provide the focal point for the staging of the 2017 America's Cup.

Andrew Dias, the West End Development Corporation (Wedco) general manager, told The Royal Gazette that Dockyard was fully prepared for the huge pressure that will come with tens of thousands of visitors descending on the Island for the showpiece sporting event.

Yesterday, as it was announced that Bermuda would host the America's Cup, Premier Michael Dunkley outlined plans to build a “purpose-built event village” in the West End to act as the hub of the competition.

“I am also excited that The Royal Naval Dockyard, with its magnificent setting and rich maritime history, has been selected as the venue to base the 2017 America's Cup,” Mr Dunkley said.

“In the South Basin of Dockyard, a purpose-built event village will be developed offering an unparalleled viewing experience along with infrastructure to support and service the sailing teams and spectators.

“We are mindful that all developments associated with the America's Cup must be sustainable and in the best long-term interests of Bermuda and Bermudians. The work to develop the event village will dovetail with the investments made by the Government in the restoration and evolution of Dockyard, a publicly owned property.”

Mr Dias said that Wedco had been preparing for growth in Dockyard for a number of years.

“We have ample extra capacity and we have built our infrastructure to ensure it can handle excessive loads, especially when it comes to sewage, water, telecommunications and power,” he added.

“There will have to be some enhancements of some of the infrastructure to accommodate everything that comes with the America's Cup, specifically Belco, but that work will not be a mammoth task.

“Some of the challenges will be to create the spaces that are going to be required by the time periods we have.

“The whole of Dockyard, inclusive of the marina, will play an integral part in the success of the America's Cup.”

On the topic of the public transportation challenges that may be caused by the resulting boost in visitors, Mr Dias said: “We have plans in place to ensure that adequate transportation provision is provided for the many visitors that will come to the West End, and this will be kept under review as we move forward. This is an incredibly special opportunity for Bermuda, one like nothing before, and we will do everything we can to make it a success.”

Meanwhile, Garth Rothwell, the Mayor of St George's, said that he believes the America's Cup will help to bring more visitors to the East End, saying that he hopes a few changes to the ferry and bus schedules can be made to make it easier for visitors to reach the Old Towne.

“With respect to the ferries, we would hope for an extra ferry visit in the mornings and a late one in the evening,” Mr Rothwell said. “The buses are pretty good already, but some minor changes to the bus schedule to allow us to more effectively bring the St David's beaches into play would be beneficial.”

Mr Rothwell also expressed optimism that the Cup announcement will help to inspire developers to invest in St George's projects, such as a hotel and a long-discussed marina by Ordnance Island.

“We are working diligently on the development for the marina and we are actually meeting with the developers this week,” he said.

“I would think getting the America's Cup would help. It will help a lot of other things to move forward as well, such as the hotel on the hill, a refurbished golf course and the establishment of more ‘bed and breakfasts' in the town, which are becoming more popular with tourists.”

A taxi operator, who asked not to be named, said that the America's Cup could provide a significant boost for the industry, provided that elements are properly organised.

“If this thing brings the thousands of people they claim, that's going to be huge,” he said. “It's a game changer, but we need to be prepared. Taxis, minibuses and buses all need to be on the same page or it's going to cause problems. The last thing you want is for people to get off the plane or get off the cruise ship or leave the restaurant and have no one there to pick them up.

“We can get it done in two years. We have to get it done in two years because, for a lot of people, this is going to be their first impression of the Island and if we mess that up, we're done.”

Images ©ACEA How the new event village in Dockyard is set to look.
Images ©ACEA How the new event village in Dockyard is set to look.
Images ©ACEA How the new event village in Dockyard is set to look.
Images ©ACEA How the new event village in Dockyard is set to look.
Images ©ACEA How the new event village in Dockyard is set to look.
Images ©ACEA How the new event village in Dockyard is set to look.
Mayor of St George's Garth Rothwell believes the Olde Towne can be revitalised by the America's Cup

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Published December 03, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 03, 2014 at 2:02 am)

Revamped Dockyard to take centre stage

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