Pasco County commissioners were introduced to a study that recommends building a multi-use indoor sports complex on parkland near The Shops at Wiregrass.
But a more in-depth review between the Tourism Development Council and the commissioners will have to wait for a public workshop slated for late October or early November.
At the Sept. 22 commissioners’ meeting, Charlie Johnson, president of Chicago-based Johnson Consulting Co., spent a few minutes going over the firm’s report, officially released in August.
“Economically, you’re healthy,” Johnson told commissioners. “I think it’s (indoor facility) very positive and trends are very supportive of this.”
In addition to the indoor complex, ball fields also would be built outdoors, but the focus, at least initially, would be on such indoor sports as volleyball, basketball, wrestling, cheerleading and martial arts.
Johnson cited facilities in Round Rock, Texas, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as examples of municipalities with successful indoor facilities.
The Porter family donated more than 200 acres near the Wiregrass mall in 2012 with a stipulation that if a sports complex didn’t happen, then a park would be developed.
But, just what to put on the land has eluded the county ever since.
Last year, a proposal from Pasco Sports LLC, a partnership between James Talton and former major league baseball player Gary Sheffield, fell apart over financial issues. The project would have included a youth baseball camp, with 20 ball fields and on-site dormitories.
The feasibility study, however, dismisses baseball as a good option.
“This site is very attractive. The market is robust enough to support some type of facility.” Johnson said. “But, baseball and soccer are really quite built-out throughout the state.”
The study suggests that Pasco would be competing, for instance, with a $27 million complex proposed in Seminole County. The complex would include 15 ball fields for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse.
Within the past week, a proposal to build an Atlanta Braves training facility in St. Petersburg has emerged. The project also would include a youth baseball component. The Gary Sheffield Sports Foundation is one of the partners in the project with the Atlanta Braves.
Some commissioners have suggested that the Porter family has concerns about the feasibility study.
“I think there is going to be some negative feelings on this by the Porters,” said Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano.
Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker said she had spoken with family members, and they would be invited to participate in the upcoming workshop.
“We’re committed to a very engaged and active dialogue,” Baker said.
Published September 30, 2015