If one drove north out of Frederiksted last week, past the site of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium, it would not have been unreasonable to think the project was never going to happen.
After a decade of artist renderings, charrettes, town hall meetings, groundbreakings and political speeches, the site had no activity, the bush was creeping in and the sign announcing work about to start has aged.
Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. indicated over the weekend he has not given up. He will be the fourth governor trying to get the job done.
Gov. Charles Turnbull started the ball rolling in the early 2000s. He formed a committee that concluded that renovations and new infrastructure in Frederiksted could avert the departure of thousands of tourists.
In 2014 Gov. John deJongh, after town hall meetings and much discussion, signed a contract for $20 million with General Engineering Corporation to rebuild the stadium and sports complex.
When Kenneth Mapp became governor, he halted the project contending that the contract would provide a $10 million stadium for $20 million. He approved resuming work in October 2015. Mapp said then that the project would cost $27 million.
“I know where the cash is,” he added.
Since then, the only progress has been the removal of the old structure.
Even if Mapp did see cash a couple of years ago, putting it in place still seems to be the problem.
Bryan in his weekend news release said he has submitted legislation to the Senate to allocate $8.2 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to complete the stadium renovation.
He asked the Senate to quickly approve the allocation so reconstruction can be completed.
“The stadium not only will be able to accommodate baseball but Little League, other field sports and provide a permanent location of the Crucian Festival Village,” he wrote.
During his State of the Territory address, Bryan underscored the need for the territory to complete the project.
“To attract quality sporting events, we must build and maintain quality sporting venues. Without question, our administration remains committed to the renovation of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted, and we anticipate its long-awaited completion within the next 12 months,” he said.
Paul E. Joseph Stadium was named after a St. Croix legislator, civil rights activist, editor and publisher, who died in 1966. The stadium was named after Joseph in 1964 and after reconstruction it will continue to bear his name.