Jonesboro Sports Complex officials gauging community feedback

by George Jared ([email protected]) 439 views 

Progress on the proposed $50 million Jonesboro Sports Complex has been slower than anticipated, but Steering Committee Chairman Kevin Hodges thinks construction could begin before the end of the year. City officials hosted nine community meetings in recent weeks to inform the public about the proposed project and to get feedback, he said.

There has been a lot of “spirited debate” as to what the focus of the facility should be – more recreational use or should it cater to tournaments and other sporting competitions.

When it’s finally built, the complex could be almost 200,000-square-feet. It’s slated to be built on a more than 30-acre swath on Race Street.

“We’ve been working on this for several months. We feel real good about how it will lay out,” Hodges said. “It’s going to be a sizable facility.”

According to a feasibility study by Eastern Sports Management, the complex will generate more than $740 million worth of economic activity during its lifetime. That includes more than $500 million in taxable spending.

ESM’s Economic Impact Report stated that the city would tally more than $7.6 million in sales and use tax collections. Another $8 million would be garnered through hotel tax collections and would generate another $6.3 million in utilities revenue. The complex would have a $22 million total impact on city coffers alone, the report noted.

The complex will have an aquatic center with a competition level pool along warm up lanes and other indoor aquatics. Among the features that will be offered will be a splash pad and a 22,000 square foot, outdoor aquatics area. The second part of the complex will feature basketball, volleyball and pickleball courts. It will also have synthetic turf fields. Meeting rooms, offices, a kitchen, and other amenities will be built.

The public meetings have provided a lot of input, Hodges said. Diving boards may be added to the pool. A permanent seating area, that could seat up to 1,200 guests is under consideration for the aquatic center.

At least 10 basketball courts could be built. Those courts could be turned into 20 volleyball courts and 30 pickleball courts for tournaments. Better food options other than a traditional concession stand are being contemplated as well, Hodges added.

Members of the public have been asked to vote on the four design choices the committee is considering. Traditional, natural, modern, and lodge are the styles under consideration.

The project will be paid for with a 2% prepared food tax. The tax will generate about $5 million per year. City officials are currently contemplating how to finance the project either with bonds or other means.

The Jonesboro A&P Commission recently voted to spend $45,000 to hire ESM as a consultant when purchasing equipment and fixtures for the facility. The agreement includes a 3% procurement that would go to ESM for the total cost of the equipment and fixtures.

Hodges said ESM has experience setting up facilities like this and their expertise will be critical in acquiring the right equipment and fixtures. Once the complex is complete, ESM would like to enter into a management agreement, he added.

A&P Chairman Jerry Morgan said it’s taking longer than originally planned for construction to begin. But officials want to ensure that the project is done right, he said.

“It’s taking a little longer than anticipated … we are going to have some issues. We are going to have some hurdles. It will take time,” he said.