NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Bahamas will make history on May 23, 2013, as its new $30 million national stadium will serve as host to an exhibition match between Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and the Jamaican national football team in Nassau.
Both teams accepted an invitation from the government of The Bahamas, which set the stage for the first match featuring a Premier League Club in The Bahamas. The match will also mark one of the major events in the new 15,000-seat stadium as well as in the year-long celebration of The Bahamas' 40th anniversary of independence. The stadium and the country hosting two world-class soccer teams in this international event is another indication of The Bahamas' growth in prominence over the past four decades.
While The Bahamas is best known to consumers as an easily accessible tropical getaway, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is also hoping to stake a claim as a destination for sports tourism by making investments in the industry and establishing partnerships that promote the islands as a location for both sports participation and spectating.
"We are delighted at the opportunity to host this first-rate event, which will mark a new and exciting thrust in our efforts to support and encourage global sporting events at all levels" said David Johnson, director general, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
He continued: "This event will serve to further validate our decision to focus on the development of sports tourism and will showcase the excellent facilities at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium for world-class sporting events. Finally, it's an event that will be among the highlights of the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence celebrations."
In the run-up to the match, Tottenham Hotspur will work with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism to help promote The Bahamas as a world-leading destination for tourism, while working with the National Sports Authority to help position the new national stadium as a hub for major international sporting events.
The stadium is part of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, an ongoing redevelopment plan on its 450 acres that will eventually include an athletes' village, new baseball and softball fields and stadiums, and a new indoor multiplex.
Anton Sealy, president of the Bahamas Football Association, said: "The Bahamas Football Association is delighted to welcome Tottenham Hotspur and the Jamaican national team to The Bahamas. We will be working closely with Tottenham Hotspur ahead of this match to help us develop football across the islands. We're confident that the Club will enjoy its experience here and in turn attract other Premier League Clubs who seek a warm and friendly place to train and prepare their squads."
Leroy Archer, chairman of the National Sports Authority, Bahamas, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for Bahamians to see world-class football on home soil. Tottenham Hotspur is one of the most famous clubs in world football with a rich tradition, while Jamaica's Reggae Boyz is the standard of Caribbean football with a huge following of colourful fans."
Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy, said: "We are delighted to accept an invitation from the government of The Bahamas to take part in the country's 40th anniversary celebrations. This match will see the club support the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, as it looks to build its profile across key markets around the world as a leading destination for tourism."
In the build-up to Jamaica's qualifying round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, this fixture provides the Jamaican team with ideal preparation ahead of its all-important match against Mexico the following week.
Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation, said: "The Jamaica Football Federation is pleased to be invited to participate in the historic occasion of the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence celebrations. We are delighted to play against one of the world's most famous football teams Tottenham Hotspur to commemorate this special occasion.
"The Jamaican team will be at full strength with all our European and American-based players. The game will be very exciting, highly competitive and played in the true Caribbean spirit of cooperation and collaboration that has always existed between the two countries. Looking forward to a great game."