July 1, 2005 – V.I. officials are enthusiastic that a premier player in the world of casinos is proposing to take part in a development on St. Croix. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation — which operates Foxwoods Resort Casino, one of the largest casinos in the world — is in the process of establishing a joint venture with William and Punch developers.
In August 2004, William and Punch managing partners David Christopher "Chris" Elliott and Kevin A. Rames held a public meeting to exhibit their plans for the development of a 400-room hotel, along with a marina, a casino, 160 residential lots, condominiums, two golf courses, retail shops, a convention center, botanical gardens and 300 acres of green space. They said the $120 million project is expected to create 2,500 jobs. (See "Land in Hand for William and Punch Resort Complex").
Wednesday the Associated Press reported that Foxwoods was taking an interest in that project.
James A. D. Francis, chief of staff at Sen. Lorraine Berry's office, summed up what many feel. He said many projects are proposed for St. Croix, but few get off the ground. He said about Foxwoods, "They have the money. They may really be able to implement the project."
Eileen Petersen, chairman of the V.I. Casino Control Commission, said Friday it is the commission's policy not to talk about specific projects unless an application has been made.
However, she did say that she was aware of the news and thought, if anyone as "reputable" as Foxwoods developed in St. Croix, it would be "a plus for the Virgin Islands, a particular plus for St. Croix, and even more of a plus for Frederiksted."
Bruce MacDonald, spokesman for Mashantucket Pequot, said Friday, "The proposal is in the early stages so it would be premature to talk about specifics. Foxwoods brings a wealth of experience in operating a world-class gaming resort, the largest in the world. It brings an eco-sensitivity to the development project that is tied to the values of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Foxwoods' owners and operators."
Involvement in the St. Croix development is looked upon as the Pequot tribe's effort to diversify its holdings. The Associated Press article said, "Other tribes, including the Mohegans, have diversified. The Mohegans, operators of Mohegan Sun, recently purchased the Pocono Downs racetrack in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in anticipation of opening a slots facility."
The article quoted Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Michael J. Thomas as saying, "St. Croix is a market that has exciting possibilities, and any development, like our other enterprises, should respect the natural beauty of its surroundings."
The development plans described in the AP article almost exactly mirror the William and Punch project set out last August.
Francis said, "This is something that is lacking on St. Croix a true luxury hotel with convention facilities." He said Sen. Berry and her staff are eagerly awaiting some official notification about the status of the project.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.