Study says athletic complex needed, but next steps uncertain


Study says athletic complex needed, but next steps uncertain

By CLIFF HIGHTOWER

Williamson County is the perfect place for an athletic complex, a new study says. But just how and when it would be built is still unknown.

The county, along with Williamson, Inc., released a study two weeks ago on the feasibility of building an athletic complex in Williamson County.

County Mayor Rogers Anderson said the county needs to get the sports authority board up and running first, but he has not established a deadline.

“That’s going to be a long time coming,” he said. “There’s other issues.”

A big issue for a new athletic complex in the county could be the price tag. The study estimated the full cost of building a complex would be around $125 million for both indoor and outdoor facilities.

Elllie Westman Chin, president and CEO or the Williamson County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, said the funding portion hasn’t been determined yet and won’t until the sports authority is put in place.

The county created the sports authority a year ago. At this time, three people have been placed on the board, Anderson said.

He said the sports authority also still has to go through the process of obtaining non-profit status. He was not sure how many people will ultimately serve on the board.

The study concluded there is demand for such a complex, which could be highly marketable. Williamson County sits in a unique position where it is in a central, drivable location, has plenty of hotel space and also has a favorable climate that is warmer and longer than northern competitors, the study stated.

The county has also seen a loss in competitive sports since A-Game closed, the report said.

The biggest winners if an athletic complex were built would be those who play basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis, the report states. Those sports lack facilities in the county; some tennis players are even leaving the county, the report said.

According to the report, a full build of an indoor facility would cost nearly $65.6 million. The outdoor portion would come in at $60.9 million. But the study suggests the outdoor portion could come in two phases with the first half costing $35 million and the second half costing around $25 million.

“An outdoor complex should be developed,” the report says. “Considering the market supply and demand for outdoor sports in Williamson County, a new facility will accommodate sports that are currently unable to find proper facilities for local use and especially tournaments.”

No clear direction has been set with regard to moving forward with the recommendations in the study.

“We haven’t figured out a funding mechanism yet,” Anderson said.

Cliff Hightower can be reached at cliff.hightower@homepagemediagroup.com or follow him on Twitter @CliffHightower.

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