We are laying off teachers and the county is now charging an extra $5 per child per sport to play, How do they have money to back a fairy tail!
SportsQuest grant request goes to supervisors
May 25, 2010 by Aaron Kremer
The Chesterfield Economic Development Authority is requesting that the Board of Supervisors approve on Wednesday a $2 million grant and a $2.3 million, 20-year lease for turf fields with SportsQuest, a mega sports project near the intersection of 288 and Powhite Parkway.
Steve Burton, SportsQuest’s founder and director, eventually wants to build a Mecca for mainstream and niche sports, including facilities such as a hockey rink, a bike track, a pool and running trails, as well as a venue for concerts. He also wants developers to piggyback on his project with hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial and retail space.
According to an official county agenda, the economic development department is requesting that the county sign a 20-year lease for nine artificial turf soccer fields, four indoor basketball courts and 10,000 square feet for a senior center in exchange for a single payment of $2.3 million. According to the agenda, the funds would be handed over when the lease is signed, presumably in 2010.
Chesterfield County officials did not return several calls placed throughout the day seeking comment. One spokesman returned a call from RBS but said that an official involved with the deal would not be available until Thursday.
Leaders of local youth soccer leagues said that they are excited about more turf fields but that they want to make sure that if public money is involved in a private enterprise, there is sufficient access during tournaments.
Rob Ukrop, president of the Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club, said turf fields will help his and other youth clubs run tournaments because the games can go on in rainy weather. But he said that until the details of the lease are fleshed out, he’s concerned that the clubs might not get full access.
“We currently pay Chesterfield County a user fee, and with a new lease, we think that should give us access to the turf fields without paying another fee,” he said.
Ukrop also said he would like to make sure the existing soccer clubs can schedule the tournaments they need. “We want the county to step in and protect the existing clubs that have had economic impact for years.”
According to the agenda, the deal would require that if the fields are not constructed by Dec. 31, “then SportsQuest must refund the rent and the lease will terminate. SportsQuest will provide a deed of trust on the 114 acre ‘East Campus’ when the fields are being built to secure its obligation to refund the rent until the fields are completed.”
Chesterfield land records show that SportsQuest LLC does not own the land on the East Campus. It is owned by Mark Sowers, an investor in SportsQuest.
The department is also recommending that the county grant $2 million to SportsQuest to assist in construction of the facility, and a second grant within 10 years that for the amount of increased real estate sales tax and real estate tax that would be generated during a five-year period. The county’s proposal estimates that the value of taxes paid and then refunded to SportsQuest could be between $10 and $12 million.
In order to get those grants, SportsQuest must invest at least $100 million for construction and create 500 full-time jobs. It’s unclear how SportsQuest would prove that it had met those benchmarks.
Steve Burton has previously said that the second phase of the project — the West Campus — relies mostly on bond financing, which he said would be completed in the second quarter of 2010. Bonds have not been sold.
The county is also seeking a deed of trust on the East Campus in exchange for the grants, which “shall remain in place as a first priority lien until SportsQuest has fully performed under the agreement.”
The county also wants to see other sources of funding, according to the agenda.
The East Campus, which is visible from Genito Road and sites adjacent to route 288, is being graded and prepared for artificial turf. SportsQuest is planning to host an adult soccer tournament on Labor Day.