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Independence Boulevard sports complex moves forward

Bojangles webCHARLOTTE – GoodSports Enterprises, a sports-complex developer out of Sarasota, Fla., later this month plans to submit to the city a request to rezone the land around Bojangles Coliseum to allow a $76.7 million amateur sports complex.

In a presentation Thursday in front of the City Council Economic Development and Global Competitiveness Committee, city economic development manager Brad Richardson said the rezoning request is expected to be filed June 23. After it is filed, the request will go through a roughly four-month process before it would return to the City Council for a decision, which is expected at the council’s Oct. 20 meeting.

The GoodSports project would include a 100,000-square-foot field house, a 150-room hotel, up to 1,800 parking spaces between a structured parking deck and a surface lot, 5,300 square feet of retail, 7,000 square feet of office space, and renovations to Bojangles Coliseum. The complex would be used for amateur sporting games and events across various levels of competition, as well as offer accommodations to visitors.

This plan is a scaled-back version of a plan proposed at an April meeting of the Economic Development Committee, when GoodSports proposed a $97 million development, which had 600 more parking spaces and about 45,000 more square feet of retail space.

Of the $76.7 million in the current plan, the developer would contribute $39.7 million, and the city would contribute $25 million, which was approved in the city’s 2013 capital investment plan, and $12 million from the city’s hospitality tax. The city’s capital investment money would be put toward parking, plaza space and infrastructure in the new development. The hospitality-tax money would go toward renovations to Bojangles Coliseum.

If recommended by the Economic Development Committee, and later approved by the full City Council, the amateur sports complex would be built on the existing 8-acre, 1,300-spot surface parking lot behind the coliseum and Ovens Auditorium, at 2700 E. Independence Blvd.

The Economic Development Committee is scheduled to meet on June 19 to discuss the GoodSports proposal before making a recommendation to the City Council. If the council approves the terms of the deal, the city staff would look to finalize an agreement with the developer by July 1. Then it would be up to the council to approve the rezoning request. Richardson said the site would need to be rezoned to a mixed-use development district to allow the sports complex.

If that timeline is achieved, GoodSports could start the project by the fall and the sports complex could be open by January 2016.

Revitalizing that section of Independence Boulevard, just west of Briar Creek Road, has long been a priority of the city. The city last year demolished two crime-ridden properties across the freeway from the coliseum, and in the $816 million capital improvement plan that passed in 2013, set aside $25 million to remake the Bojangles Coliseum area.

But the council must decide if it wants to spend the full sum on this proposed project.

The city spent a portion of that $25 million in January when it paid $3.6 million for a 6.84-acre site adjacent to Ovens. A hotel, which will be demolished this summer, sits on that property. A surface parking lot with up to 600 spots is planned for the site. The remainder of the capital investment money wouldn’t be spent until the full project was complete, said Ron Kimble, deputy city manager.

The estimated development cost includes $14 million for the hotel; $13 million for the field house; $2.4 million for retail and office space; and $17 million for parking, according to the city.

Sarasota-based Core Construction and locally based R.J. Leeper were listed in the proposal as the project’s contractors. Odell is the architect, according to GoodSports. Representatives from the contractor and designer were at Thursday’s meeting.

Another update provided at the committee meeting was additional business terms in the deal. GoodSports will operate and manage the field house, hotel and retail space, according to city documents. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority will operate the coliseum, Ovens Auditorium and the public parking. The developer will be responsible for any cost overruns and all on-site improvements.

If an agreement is reached, GoodSports will lease the 8 acres from the city for $1 per year for 25 years, with renewal options. The CRVA will retain net parking revenues for all parking spaces, unless GoodSports is using them on non-CRVA-sanctioned events, the documents show.

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