Town considers phased option, while Matthews moves ahead with their own project
A new proposal could have the Stallings Sportsplex back on track. The town’s Finance Committee will hear a new plan Thursday, July 28 to purchase land for the project.
“We’re starting over right now,” town council member Wyatt Dunn said.
The Sportsplex would sit on 80 acres of land and include a minimum of four outdoor athletic fields plus the actual complex. The initial proposal was tabled March 14 after a 4-2 vote by the council. Some council members supported the Sportsplex but did not agree with the proposal to build it, while others felt that the town should focus on the list of priority projects that had been established in the five year financial plan.
“I think it’s a good idea because it will improve the quality of life [in Stallings],” Dunn said. He points to the numbers generated by National Amateur Sports, which estimated 131,000 visitors per year to the complex, bringing in $105 per person. That would add $13.7 million annually to the local economy.
“People will come to our town, eat at our restaurants, and buy our gas,” Dunn said.
The reintroduction of the Sportsplex will feature a few key changes, including the idea of creating the complex in phases, according to Dunn, instead of all at once, which would take up the majority of the town’s funds balance.
“It needs to make financial sense for the town to do it,” said Paul Frost, council member and head of the financial committee, “There are parks and sidewalks and road improvements that need to be taken care of. First things first.”
Dunn meanwhile points to the potential business that it could bring.
“It’s a great opportunity for the town of Stallings to bring in a great company,” said Dunn, referencing the Porter Ridge Athletic Association. The PRAA, according to their website, “was created to afford the children and parents of Western Union County an opportunity to participate and compete in a variety of sports,” is one of the possible investors.
Carolina Courts, a basketball and volleyball training facility based in Charlotte, is another potential investor, which Dunn believes would attract regional and local tournaments.
Matthews vs. Stallings?
While Stallings reworks their Sportsplex concept, next door in Matthews plans for building a recreational center just came one step closer. Mecklenburg County commissioners voted July 12 to sell up to $100 million in bonds, which will direct $7 million to the Matthews project. The Matthews sportsplex, planned for 1601 Tanktown Road, calls for 12 soccer fields, a stadium complex and amenities such as trails and picnic shelters on county owned land. The bond approval will give the project $7 million of the estimated $34 million needed to complete the Matthews project.
“We are extremely pleased that economic conditions have improved and that the county commissioners are moving forward with this much needed and long -anticipated project for the Town of Matthews,” Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said in a written statement. “We look forward to construction beginning and completion of the facility.” Matthews has committed to give $2 million to the project. But that money won’t be given just yet.
Matthews spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller said the town “will work closely with county staff to determine how to maximize the town’s $2 million contribution to the project.”
A recently-completed economic impact study on the Matthews version of the sportsplex idea concluded that the project would bring an estimated $78.1 million to $85.1 million to the area during its estimated two-year construction time. The county-requested study, authored by University of North Carolina at Charlotte professor David Swindell, estimates the project will employ between 223 and 247 people. The town paid $1,500 for the study.
Stallings officials said the Matthews project wouldn’t overlap with their interests because the focus would be on different sports. Carolina Courts and PRAA would bring baseball, basketball, football, and lacrosse to the Sportsplex.
“It’s too early to tell,” said Dunn, “we haven’t even met for the first time.” The details of the new proposal will come out at next Thursday’s committee meeting.