So When Does The Youth Sports Complex Building Boom End? – Forbes

The answer to the question, so when does the youth sports complex building boom end, is: not yet. I suspect it’s not merely about the desire of parents to spend big bucks on their kids’ sports careers at ever-earlier ages, and the revenue those families bring in tourism spending. (Apparently, nearly $10.5 billion in travel in 2016, which has set up cottage industries in youth sports travel agencies and companies that arrange package deals between hotels and complexes so that parents have to stay at selected lodging.)

I also suspect it’s that youth sports complexes also take up a lot of land that in the past would have been used for retail or industrial development, both of which aren’t in as much favor as they used to be, especially retail. Hey, Amazon can only build so many warehouses. Note, too, that like pro stadiums, most youth sports complexes have some level of taxpayer funding — if not completely funded by the public — behind them in the promise that small children with baseball bats and their parents in tow will bring riches (something I haven’t seen corroborated by any objective study).

So here is what’s been going on just in the last two weeks:

NAPLES, Fla. — Collier County Commissioners are scheduled to vote June 13 on a proposal to buy 60 acres of industrial land — as the Naples Daily News notes, part of vacant land located “between two hotels and a landfill” — for a proposed youth sports complex that could cost anywhere from $60 million to $80 million. The land alone runs $12 million — and that’s at a discount. According to the Daily News, the county may raise its hotel bed tax to finance the complex, but that still leaves $5 million to $30 million that would have to be found.

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — For the moment, a $55 million Power Plex project touted as becoming America’s largest indoor-outdoor sports complex is not going to happen after the city of Chesterfield decided to withdraw during a June 5 council meeting. The issue is politics — there is the city of Chesterfield, St. Louis County, and a nonprofit whose members include St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny are all involved. In my experience, the more is not the merrier when it comes to building youth sports complexes — usually the ones that happen are the result of one governmental entity running the process. In this case, backers of the project say they’ve already heard from other interested cities.

VICKSBURG, Miss. — The citizens of Vicksburg, at least 62.9 percent of those who showed up for the June 5 municipal election, approved a tax plan to finance a $20 million youth sports complex. According to the Vicksburg Post, an extra 2 percent tax on restaurant bills and the redirection of proceeds from a 2 percent hotel tax will provide the money needed. The hotel money is redirected from its previous beneficiary, the local convention center, which is knocked down the local economic pecking order, and whose expenses will now come from a general fund.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — More of the building that once held the Contra Costa Times newspaper is being torn down to be replaced by a “mall” that includes sports training centers, including soccer, swimming, gymnastics, baseball, futsal and martial arts, an expansion from the 40,000-square-foot basketball facility on the site.

WINDSOR, Colo. — The local council in late May saw plans that would make this northern Colorado town host to the largest mixed-use youth sports complex in the nation, with its 413 acres being Westfield, Ind.’s Grand Park by 13 acres. The proposed $225 million complex, which would include a 10,000-seat stadium (!), in a relative rarity, is privately financed (!) , though there’s talks with the city of Windsor to fast-track building permits. The youth sports complex boom is particularly big in Colorado — according to the Denver Business Journal, there’s also a 55-acre complex being built in Colorado Springs, and a 220-acre complex in Aurora that opened in late 2015. And yet, it’s not enough. From the Denver Business Journal:

The idea was born when Windsor resident, coach and umpire [and business partner Mike] Billadeau found the need for more playing fields. He noted that large sports complexes across the country have turned away tournaments for lack of space. He joined forces with [former Colorado Rockies player and current broadcaster Ryan] Spilborghs to dream up the plans for the complex.

Yup, still booming.

 

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