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Businessman: Transform ‘white elephants’ into ‘diamonds’

Jamaica businessman Tony Hart.

Jamaica businessman Tony Hart.

KINGSTON — The man credited with transforming the Montego Freeport into a gold mine, Tony Hart, has launched a campaign to have western Jamaica’s two white elephants – the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium and the Montego Bay Convention Centre – transformed into “diamonds”.

Hart, in a full-page, full-colour advertisement in The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, demanded “it’s time to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)”.

In the ad, he declared the current haemorrhaging of millions of dollars in cost to the nation at both properties could be easily cauterised.

“It’s not complicated. Instead of losing $50 million a month, the Trelawny stadium should be turned into the Usain Bolt university of sports and technology and the convention centre, a free-standing casino, giving amazing entertainment at night,” Hart said an interview yesterday afternoon.

The Montego Bay businessman, who said he was now retired, estimated that with the depreciation of both properties, interest on the money borrowed to construct both, operating cost and electricity, it was costing the country much more than the $50 million per month he had estimated in the ad. The convention centre alone is costing $33 million.

Hart’s advertisement has caused a firestorm, reopening a conversation that has been in parliament for the last four years.

He said his phone remained extremely busy yesterday, with support coming from all spheres of the society.

He has also received the backing of the presidents of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce and the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Richard Bourke and Davon Crump, respectively.

Both men said they were in agreement that the stadium was a white elephant and changes needed to be made to the convention centre.

“The stadium is totally underutilised, and should become a training centre for western Jamaica and a source of sports tourism,” said Bourke

He noted that while the stadium was originally intended as a multi-purpose facility, it is only set up to accommodate cricket.

“It needs to meet the same standards at the National Stadium,” he stated. Since the stadium was built, it has hosted only one major sporting event – the 2007 Cricket World Cup. (Gleaner)

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