SPOT ON: The SportsMax Zone is a hub of football frenzy. Inset, Lee hanging with a male patron.
In its next life, the Chinese Benevolent Association on Hope Road could find pretty decent business as a movie house. That's precisely the vibe you get when you walk into the auditorium that's been gorgeously done-up to host the SportsMax Zone, Kingston's coolest spot to catch live action from the 2014 FIFA World Cup. From the gigantic high-definition screen to the reclining couches to the mini food court to the VIP high-rise to the rear to the 32 national flags adorning the ceiling, there's no mistaking the immediate appeal. Best of all: access is free to the public.
With an in-house deejay and live half-time performances thrown into the mix for good measure, coupled with the enthusiasm of the patrons, the energy level in the place is no joke. And SportsMax's Caribbean Marketing Manager, Tanya Lee, would have it no other way. "In 2010, we had a venue in New Kingston for the World Cup, and so we thought we'd do it again. And I'm so glad we did," says Lee, adding that sponsoring partners Courts, Flow, Appleton, Wata and Skyy Vodka virtually leapt at the opportunity to be on the mix.
While Tanya chats with TALLAWAH, the heroes of Bosnia and eventual winners Nigeria are battling it out on the field in the hope of advancing to the next round, much to the delight of the sizeable in-house crowd. As Lee explains, the feverish excitement that accompanies the Greatest Show on Earth continues to draw huge daily turnouts to the 700-person-capacity venue. "It's been intense, the energy has been high because the tournament has been full of surprises along the way," she says.
A 30-something stunner, dressed in a white polo, booties and a paid of Daisy Dukes, Lee makes a point of underscoring SportsMax's commitment to bringing the finest in global sports to regional households. "Our job is to bring the best of sports to a Caribbean sporting audience, whether it's football, international cricket, track-and-field, Grand Prix meets. What Caribbean people want to watch as sports, we feel that it's our duty to get it and bring it to them."
The road ahead for SportsMax, she later points out, will see them pressing hard on the accelerator. "Right after the World Cup we're gonna concentrate on launching the Barclay's Premiere League, which starts in August. We're also looking to expand into the Spanish-speaking Caribbean," she says, highlighting their presence in 28 Caribbean territories already. "We are hoping to continue spreading our tentacles across the region. And the next big thing, we're always looking to get it."