One who is to bring in money has financial troubles
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John Lehmann, president of Network Sports Marketing, has an extensive background working in sports marketing and planning and running events.
"Tennis is a small world," Lehmann said. "I'm not some guy off the street that's never been around. I've done tennis. I've done it as a player, as a coach, as an agent, as a marketer. I've been around the sport for 35 years, and that's why they asked to bring me in."
Under a proposed Memorandum of Agreement with the government, Lehmann's company would bring $10 million in private funding to the construction project and would lease and operate the tennis and beach volleyball portion of the complex.
However, like the other stateside participants in the St. Croix sports complex deal, Lehmann has financial troubles.
Lehman and Network Sports Marketing have a $130,000 judgment lien against them. It stems from a breach of contract case that Nike USA filed in 2010.
Lehmann said the lien is the result of a situation in which a client he had done business with for a few years "ordered a ton of stuff from Nike, and he skipped town on me. He skipped the country on me."
Lehmann had signed to guarantee payment.
"They basically ran out on me, leaving me with a quarter-million dollar debt, which I paid down to a certain point, and that's where it sits, and I'm in a lawsuit with them at this point," Lehmann said.
He characterized the lien as an isolated incident.
Lehmann also faces foreclosure on his house by U.S. Bank, which filed foreclosure in March.
Lehmann said the foreclosure is "a personal matter" and he would not comment about it.
He emphasized he and his company will be bringing money in for their part of the sports complex, not using taxpayer money.
"Our money on our part of it is private. That's a big distinction. We're not asking for any government money," Lehmann said.
He also said he recognizes that there may be some level of mistrust of companies from off-island that are not known in the Virgin Islands.
"I understand that there are historical dealings with 'off island' people that haven't resulted in the best results. I'm sorry for that but do think that upon examination of the proposed project, that there are stopgaps, checkpoints and safety measures that the government has included to mitigate potential pitfalls," Lehmann said in an email following up on the interview.
Big plans for big events
Lehmann's contribution to the project would be attracting sports events to the St. Croix facilities, he said.
"In the sports world, and especially tennis, I've got a pretty extensive background, and I've got a nice reputation," he said "And really, building it is the easy part. The difficult part is getting people to come and stay and play. That's where we're specifically focusing."
Lehmann noted that a key part of the equation for success - beyond building the complex - is building the clientele.
"The facilities on their own are simply no good unless you can fill them," he said.