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DeJongh: Delayed Stadium Could Pump $58 Million into Economy

A stalled plan to demolish and reconstruct an expanded Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted has the potential to pump $58 million into the local economy, Government House said in a statement released Thursday.

The day after the 30th Legislature voted to again delay action on the proposal, the government’s Bureau of Economic Research released a report suggesting that the stadium project has the potential to pump $58 million into the local economy through both direct and indirect economic output.

Senators voted Wednesday to hold a bill changing its 2012 authorization to rebuild the stadium in Frederiksted, citing concern over a provision that would allow work to proceed without an additional legislative approval. Senators also cited a dislike of being rushed, a desire for more information about the details of the construction plan and, in at least one case, personal distrust of the deJongh administration as their reasons.

The bureau was directed by Gov. John deJongh Jr. to prepare the economic impact analysis of the project.

"The rationale of ‘what’s the rush’ used by one lawmaker causes me to wonder where that senator is serving," deJongh said Thursday. "We are not only stopping a $20 million stadium project but rather a project that will support over 150 direct jobs, generate over $58 million in economic activity, over which 40 percent will be spent locally, and result in a multiplier effect that will have a tremendous impact. That is the reason for ‘why now and not later.’ I suggest that the senators step back from the politics of personality and not concentrating on the policies of governance and let’s start achieving some job creation."

Bureau Director Wharton Berger said the stadium project will have a positive impact on both economic growth and employment levels in the territory. There would be at least $58 million in economic activity generated by the stadium project, which includes a regulation Little League Field and Frederiksted Carnival Village, Berger said.

“Creating direct and indirect employment in the local construction sector and with an operational sports facility and entertainment venue .. has the potential to create sustainable economic growth for St. Croix,” Berger said.

Berger’s analysis said local construction expenditures associated with the $20 million construction costs amounts to an estimated 60 percent or $12 million. It would have had the potential to create $58 million in overall economic output for the St. Croix economy and employ more than 220 direct construction jobs, generating more than $6 million.

DeJongh said, "A number of senators were very quick, without the benefit of any economic analysis or cost-benefit impact, to give away tax incentives on over $55 million of gross receipts taxes to three companies. I am at a loss as to why they are reluctant to give us approval for a project that will provide jobs, more economic activity and add to our infrastructure for sports tourism.”

“I will continue to provide them with all the data they want and will do all that is necessary to address their concerns,” deJongh said. “However, I really wish they had the same level of concern to provide the needed jobs and opportunities for residents of St. Croix.”

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