The Wiregrass Sports Complex of Pasco County could be open as soon as spring 2019, Richard Blalock, chief executive officer of RADD Sports said last week.
The sports management and development company anticipates finalizing agreements with Pasco County by August. The construction of the 98,000-square-foot indoor sports complex is expected to take 18 months, though Blalock is hopeful it can be done within 14 months.
Blalock and Anthony Homer, the company’s vice president of development, gave an update on the project at the monthly economic briefing luncheon hosted by The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce on May 25.
Work already is underway to line up events, sports leagues and coaches for a facility that will operate on Monday through Thursday as a community-based sports center, Blalock said.
Weekends will be set aside to host tournaments, competitions and other events that will generate hotel stays and tax revenues for the county, he said.
“We’re not sitting back waiting,” he said. “We’re in the community actively engaging. When the doors open, we want to be running and generating,” Blalock added.
For instance, Blalock plans to meet with the head coach of the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The focus will be on involving youth from the community in as many sporting opportunities as possible, he said.
A minor league system for youth ages 9 through 18 will be organized for cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. Participants will be required to maintain a minimum of a 2.0 grade average.
A prep level will be available for youths, ages 5 through 8.
But, sports won’t be the only skill taught.
“We want to develop these kids not only as athletes, but as citizens,” Blalock said.
For youth that don’t want to actively participate in a sport, Blalock said they would have opportunities to join a Coach’s Club or Elite Manager’s Club, to learn skills such as scorekeeping, officiating and team management.
For elite athletes who are being recruited, RADD Sports will help with media technology, such as webcasts, to showcase their talents.
The Pasco County Commission agreed in April to negotiate with RADD Sports for the $25 million sports complex. About $15 million to $17 million in funding will be from a bank loan, secured with a proposed 2 percent increase in the county’s tourism tax. Nearly $11 million is from previously pledged tourism dollars, and sales tax revenues.
County commissioners must approve an ordinance to increase the tourism tax.
Projections for sports events and revenues include:
- 27,000 visitors per night per year
- 12,000 visitors who come for the day
- $6.5 million annual economic impact
- $8 million or more in sales and use taxes in 10 years (not including tourism tax)
Over 10 years, RADD Sports officials project $100 million in accumulated direct economic impact for the county.
The facility will be able to host sporting and recreational activities, including basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, dancing, wrestling, gymnastics, curling and badminton.
Plans also call for seven outdoor sports fields, an amphitheater with an event lawn, trails, pavilions and a playground.
An $18.5 million, 120-room hotel is planned on land donated years ago by the Porter family – developers of Wiregrass Ranch and The Shops at Wiregrass.
Sports tourism is proving to be a successful generator of revenues for local communities, Homer said.
On average, each visitor spends about $208 a day, he said.
There is a multiplier effect, however, when families come together to youth sports events. “They make a whole weekend out of it,” Homer said.
RADD Sports plans to follow the Disney model for sports event registrations. The hotel room is part of the registration process, he said.
And, when the on-site hotel is full, other area hotels are included, Homer added.
RADD Sports wants to create a “constant churn” of events. “We want them to come back, six, seven, eight times a year,” he said.
Published May 31, 2017