Gov. John deJongh Jr. promoted and defended his administration’s proposal for a baseball, swimming, tennis and volleyball sports complex in Frederiksted in a statement from his office Wednesday, commenting on a Senate panel’s decision Monday to hold legislation authorizing the plan for more discussion.
“Aside from exhibiting confidence in long term future of the island’s economy, it will result in critically needed jobs and small business opportunities and, I believe, it will serve as a catalyst to move forward the development of hotel projects planned for St. Croix,” deJongh said in the statement.
The project will also serve as a fulcrum upon which to develop St. Croix tourism’s product and help position the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Croix in particular within the niche market of sports tourism, deJongh said.
“I cannot overstate the importance of this project at this time as it continues my administration’s commitment to execute public-private partnerships to achieve economic growth and diversification, and in this case it is towards enhancing sports facilities in our territory," deJongh said.
While this complex is planned for the west end of St. Croix, plans are already in motion to develop track and field facilities at the two public high schools on St. Croix, deJongh said.
On St. Thomas, plans call for the development of a track and field facility at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and the refurbishment of the track at Charlotte Amalie High School, he said.
“The Paul E. Joseph sports complex initiative, the development of the two tracks on St. Croix and one on St. Thomas, and the redevelopment of the track at CAHS is part of an ongoing initiative that was started several years ago," deJongh said.
“We spent more than $10 million rehabilitating over 40 sports facilities: basketball courts, baseball fields, volleyball and tennis courts across the three islands.”
DeJongh said he believes the focus now has to be on positioning the territory in the sports tourism market and once this project gets off the ground, continuing the development of the two tracks on St. Croix and improving the facility on St. Thomas.
James Sutherland, president of GlobeVest LLC, is quoted in the Government House statement saying his company and partners are committed to bringing the project forward. International development company GlobeVest has partnered with V.I. construction company GEC to form GlobeVest V.I., which has won the bid to design and build the stadium, should the Legislature approve.
"We have had a good dialogue with the senators, a good dialogue with the testifiers at last night’s hearing and we understand the concerns raised,” Sutherland said. “Our intention is to move this project forward as a means of advancing sports tourism in the Virgin Islands and providing a top of the line sports complex for the not only the athletes who will compete on St. Croix but for the residents of the island.”