(ANTGUA NEWS ROOM) – The government and the West Indies Cricket Board have partnered to purchase the Stanford Cricket Grounds and surrounding properties for US$7.5 million.
The joint venture, which will see the government owning 40 per cent of the shares to WICB’s 60 per cent stake, is expected to attract more premier sporting events.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a company called Coolidge Cricket Grounds Inc was formed and will jointly owned by the government and WICB.
Both entities under the MOU will acquire certain properties in Coolidge and Barnes Hill (four parcels of land), which were held by the disgraced investor R Allen Stanford, and which are in the hands of court-appointed liquidators. They include the Car Park, Sticky Wicket Restaurant and The Athletics Club.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne views the partnership as a win, win situation. He said the government would not have been able to move forward with the venture on its own.
Browne said the move was also made to consolidate the WICB’s headquarters remaining in Antigua.
The location will become the new headquarters of the WICB and also serve as a central training facility.
Browne said there will be the rehabilitation of the cricket grounds so it is able to hold first class matches and subsequently International Cricket Council (ICC) sanctioned national tournaments. Also, it will be used for training and development camps.
According to the PM, a cricket museum hall of fame will be established to the standard that it becomes a fixture on the tourism calendar of events.
At the signing of the agreement the government will pay a sum of US $750,000, following which at six months, one-year and 18 month intervals a similar sum would be paid.
The WICB, however, at the initial signing will pay US $750,000, six months, one year and 18 months after signing US one million dollars, and two years after US$750,000.
“The total purchase price of the facility is US$7.5 million, but the actual real commercial value is at least twice the amount. So the joint venture agreement calls for the West Indies Cricket Board to contribute four and a half million of the proceeds and for the government of Antigua and Barbuda to contribute US$3 million,” Browne said.
PM Browne said the joint venture has brought into circulation an asset that has bene laying dormant and deteriorating for many years.
He said the country will also benefit financially from the purchase with people travelling to island having to rent cars, buy food and take up occupancy in hotels.
The resolution authorising the government to make the purchase was passed in the Lower House yesterday, without debate or objections.