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Sports center firm has big plans

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Before a hotel and sports complex would be built in Greenwood, four others would be built in other cities across the country.

The design of each of the facilities planned for Charlotte, N.C., Chesterfield, Mo., Huber Heights, Ohio, and Wichita, Kan., is similar, but the sizes differ slightly. Three will be about the size of the $22 million facility GoodSports Enterprises Global has proposed building southeast of County Line Road and Interstate 65, with 124 hotel rooms and an 85,000-square-foot indoor sports complex.

But what each community offered to secure the development varies. Greenwood’s offer was one of the lower dollar amounts.

Huber Heights and Greenwood each offered about $2 million in incentives to GoodSports. The company is receiving free land from Huber Heights. Greenwood’s redevelopment commission approved offering $2 million from its tax-increment financing district to hire contractors who would do road, sewer, stormwater, sidewalk and drainage work in the area.

Other areas have spent significantly more in trying to reach a deal with GoodSports.

In Charlotte, the city wanted to have an athletic complex that could host tournaments downtown and contacted various national organizations seeking proposals from interested companies, said Brad Richardson, the city’s economic development director.

Charlotte has $25 million from its capital fund set aside for improving the area around the Bojangles Coliseum downtown. The city also has set aside $12 million from a hotel and motel tax to renovate the coliseum. Some of that $25 million will be spent on projects that will benefit the city and GoodSports, such as $3.5 million to demolish an old hotel in order to create a parking lot that can be used by the hotel and sports complex and coliseum.

But about $18 million of that amount will be given as cash to GoodSports to cover the cost of construction of the hotel and athletic facility, Richardson said.

The city also might lease the property where the GoodSports facility will go for $1 a year. Officials did not want to sell the property to GoodSports, or any company, since the area is surrounded by city-owned properties, Richardson said.

The facility in Charlotte will include 150 hotel rooms, a 100,000-square-foot field house and 50,000 square feet of retail space.

By comparison, the facilities in Greenwood, Huber Heights and Wichita will include field houses in the range of 65,000 to 85,00 square feet, along with about 125 to 150 hotel rooms. And each of those developments was initiated by GoodSports company officials.

GoodSports has plans to build 25 facilities during the next five years. The company has a goal of creating a network of facilities that are linked by regions. For example, the company may use the sites in Greenwood and Huber Heights as part of its Midwest region, which could include four or five total locations.

Each location will be at least an hour away from any other, GoodSports spokesman David Lindberg said.

GoodSports uses a formula that looks over dozens of attributes of an area to determine if it is a good match for one of their hotels and field houses. Some of those factors include the number of people living in an area, income levels, and other venues capable of hosting sports tournaments, Lindberg said.

Officials in Wichita feel their city strongly fit one of those criteria: a lack of venues to host sporting events, said Mark Elder, a development analyst for the city.

Wichita city officials are using $40 million in bonds that are paid for much like Greenwood’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, district. The city will pay about $9.5 million for extensive improvements to the interstate exchange where the GoodSports facility will be located. Most of the remaining funds will be used on construction costs and infrastructure improvements in and around the GoodSports facility, such as roads and curbs, Elder said.

GoodSports has not broken ground on any of the company’s planned hotel and field house complexes. Officials in the cities where GoodSports plans to build facilities have not had the ability to visit a standing building. The cities are deciding if they should give incentives to a company without being able to take a tour or get an in-person feel for what the facility would look like.

Officials in Charlotte, Huber Heights, and Wichita said company officials’ past involvement building hotels and other venues eased any concerns about not having a GoodSports site to visit.

The hotel and field house project proposed for Greenwood will be the fourth hotel GoodSports founder and chief executive officer Jerald Good owns in Indiana and one of many others he’s owned in the state over the years. His company Focus Hospitality Services owns a Holiday Inn Express in Valparaiso, the Holiday Inn Fort Wayne and a Candlewood Suites in Fort Wayne, Lindberg said.

The company built the Carlton Lodge in 1997 in Franklin and sold it in 2006. That hotel is now the Comfort Inn on Holiday Lane, according to county records.

“While this is a new concept for them, GoodSports and their parent company has an extensive history of development over the past 30 or 40 years,” Charlotte’s Richardson said.

Officials in Wichita also performed extensive background checks on the company, looking for any potential tax liens or bankruptcies that would indicate financial problems. No liens or bankruptcies were found on any of the searches, Elder said.

Huber Heights has a set of requirements that GoodSports has to meet or the company would have to give the land back to the city. For example, the company had to submit its development plan to the planning commission for approval by December 2013, which it did. Other requirements for the company includes beginning construction by June 1 and completing the facility one year later, said Scott Falkowski, Huber Heights assistant city manager.

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