Two proposals for a Wiregrass Ranch sports complex passed muster with an evaluation committee searching for the right concept to maximize sports tourism in Pasco County.
These proposals serve up a buffet line of amenities including large, indoor gymnasiums with multiple playing courts, an amphitheater, a hotel or two, lighted turf fields and some outdoor ball fields.
Finalists were Clearwater-based Sports Facilities Management and RADD Sports, in partnership with Mainsail Development Group and Municipal Acquisitions LLC. Four companies had submitted proposals.
The committee met Sept. 12 and will meet again before either deciding on their recommendation to the Pasco County Commission, or requesting more information.
“I’m definitely excited about this,” said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.
The array of indoor sports that will be available, in addition to the traditional baseball fields, is especially important, he said. “Pasco’s recreational baseball is becoming too saturated,” Moore said. And, whichever proposal is chosen, Moore said, “This is something we don’t have in our market.”
In September 2015 a study from Chicago-based Johnson Consulting Co., suggested that Pasco should focus on building a large indoor gymnasium for sports and activities such as basketball, volleyball, wrestling, cheerleading and martial arts. While a few outdoor playing fields also should be built, the study found that indoor, all-year-round sports complexes would give Pasco a more competitive edge in the evolving sports tourism industry.
Sports Facilities Management envisions a 92,000-square-foot facility with six basketball courts, or 12 volleyball courts. The Pasco County Sportsplex also would provide areas for parties, children’s play areas, and flex space for a café, kitchen, restrooms, offices and a lobby.
The complex would serve as a community sports and recreation destination, as well as hosting regional sports tournaments and special events from the southeastern United States.
At a cost of about $16.5 million, the company would create what is described as a “play and stay” destination for family friendly sporting events.
Other sports parks developed by Sports Facilities Management include Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports in Hilliard, Ohio; and, Myrtle Beach Sports Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Company officials estimate that the facility would generate more than 30,000 hotel room nights from visitors outside of Pasco County within the first year. In five years, hotel room nights would increase to 40,000.
The direct economic benefit in the first year would be about $4 million. By year five, it would be $24 million, and by year 10, it would be $50 million.
The company provided letters of intent from four tournament organizers interested in using the facility as of 2018.
RADD Sports, in partnership with Mainsail Development Group and Municipal Acquisitions LCC, proposes in its first phase to build an approximately 98,000-square-foot facility, a Marriott hotel with a minimum of 100 rooms, an amphitheater, sports turf fields that could double as an event lawn, a fitness center, trails and playgrounds. Initial costs would be about $14 million.
Eight basketball courts also could accommodate volleyball, dance, cheerleading and other competitive sports, as well as local, regional and national tournaments.
About 36 events would be held annually at the amphitheater, with about $1 million being pumped into the local economy from visitors outside Pasco.
In a second phase of development, a second hotel could be built, as well as five baseball fields and an indoor baseball academy.
The Marriott hotel would cost about $15 million to build.
A 30-year management agreement would be negotiated between Pasco County and Municipal Acquisitions.
Mainsail is the developer of the Epicurean Hotel in south Tampa. RADD Sports built the Easton-Newberry Sports Complex in Newberry.
The evaluation committee reviewed, but rejected, proposals from Land O’ Lakes-based USCA (Ultimate Sports Complex Athletics) and Holladay Properties of South Bend, Indiana.
USCA’s proposal included up to 100,000 square feet for indoor sports and training in three buildings, an indoor go-cart track, a sports bar and bowling alleys.
Holladay submitted an offer to partner with Pasco County in a master plan for about 225 acres of the proposed site at Wiregrass with an indoor sports facility, as well as residential and commercial space. The real estate investment company didn’t propose to manage the sports facility.
Published September 28, 2016