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Trump’s tweets lead to price increase for Lafayette County Multipurpose Arena

The Lafayette County multipurpose arena could cost a little more than originally projected, thanks to a recent spike in steel prices.

According to Steve Rowell, president and owner of Flagstar Construction, recent tweets from President Trump about tariffs he plans to impose on Chinese steel imports are to blame.

“It’s only because Trump announced these tariffs that the steel prices went up in the first place, so we’re asking for a change order just to take care of that. Once he tweeted it, he created hysteria in the steel market and it started going crazy,” Rowell said. “I’ve never seen this in the steel market before. It tends to go up over the span of six months. This went up over two weeks.”

Rowell said overall, steel prices have risen as much as 20 to 25 percent.

The arena was originally projected to cost around $4,965,000, according to documents presented by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors during a recessed meeting on March 7, when bids for both the arena and business complex were awarded.

During last night’s supervisors meeting, Rowell asked for a change order for the bid, saying the company needed an additional $59,000 to compensate for the spike in prices. This is still nearly $140,000 cheaper than the next-closest bids.

However, no one has signed a check for the steel yet. Flagstar is still waiting for a final review of their contract by the supervisors. Should that contract be approved by the board, the board will then move to approve the change order.

District 1 supervisor Kevin Frye said the board understands the situation is out of Flagstar Construction’s hands.

“I guess basically what happened is, we had our bid documents out, but we didn’t have it contracted so we had not ordered the material,” Frye said. “Certainly it was out of your control, we understand that.”

Rowell explained there were certain times when they could’ve gotten a lower price, but it was only in cases where there was already a signed contract in place.

ACI Building Systems is the company supplying the steel for the arena project. Mark Delmastro, their district manager, said he is hoping the board will rule in Flagstar Construction’s favor, because any steel they would have ordered would have already been on a boat overseas and would have had a 25 percent price increase as soon as it hit American soil.

“I understand and agree with Trump’s contention that we have to have a strong domestic steel industry. The problem is, the way he enacted it, with an executive order, gave us no time to respond,” Delmastro said. “I’m a Lafayette County taxpayer. I’m glad we’re doing it but it’s an unfortunate situation due to the timing.”

The business center and arena will be built on about 50 of the 160 acres owned by the county off County Road 406. Another portion of that plot of land will be leased to Lafayette County School District for the construction of a new elementary school.

In order to keep the current price locked in, Flagstar will need to have steel delivered and on the construction site by July 31.

Rowell agreed with Delmastro, and said the whole situation simply comes down to timing and Trump’s social media presence.

“It was unfortunate for everybody,” he said. “I just wish he wouldn’t tweet so much.”