The fields should be ready in October

Teams are back to work at Etowah County Mega Sports Complex location in rainbow citywith landscaping and work on six soccer fields under construction.

Mega Sports Complex Authority chairman Ralph Burke said three pitches were about two weeks away from laying the turf and the other three about a month away.

The facility has “the best concession kitchen in the county,” Burke said, ready to stock up and begin serving, and the facility is also set up to rent space to food trucks.

For current members of the authority, there are two unofficial deadlines. They hope the complex will be able to host a tournament in October, and by legislative act a new authority will take over by then. It is unclear if any current members will be reappointed to the board.

After a dispute in which Senator Andrew Jones and the Etowah County Tourism Board sued to halt a bond issue to provide the funding needed to allow work to continue at the resort, the board agreed to a restructuring.

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Each member of the Legislative Delegation will now have an appointment to the authority, as will the Rainbow City Town Governing Body, the Speaker of the Gadsden and Etowah County House and the Director of the Tourist Board of Etowah County or his delegate. . Apart from the director of tourism, those who make appointments cannot be named. Because no one will take office in District 29 before the general election, the Director of Tourism will make the appointment this year.

Burke and members Randy Vice and Craig Ford said the authority wanted this phase of the sports complex to be as close to completion as possible to turn it over to the new board, in the hopes that they “the will accept and live with it”.

According to these authority members, if the race was any good, the combination of sports fields that will be available at this facility, combined with those available at East Gadsden Sports Park on which the City of Gadsden and Gadsden State Community College collaborate could have had a significant economic impact for Etowah County.

More sports than football could be played here, such as flag football.

Vice has released some numbers – he teaches economics at Southside High in addition to coaching football – regarding that potential, after consulting Amy Whiteside, concession manager at Sand Mountain Park, and Darren Spruill, athletic director for the city of Sand Mountain Park. ‘Anniston.

With six courts available, Vice said the Rainbow City complex can accommodate a 24-team round robin with championship rounds over two days. Based on the number of local travel teams, he said, he estimated 20 teams would come from outside the region, likely to spend two nights in hotels.

Vice estimated the following projected revenue for the facility:

Team fees: $500 on average per team, for a total of $12,000

Entrance fees: $10 per day average or $15 pass, $5,280, with an average of 22 fans per team

Concessions: $7,000 (based on Sand Mountain Park concessions for a 14-team tournament)

Vice said it was keeping its numbers conservative and forecasting total direct revenue of $24,280

Expenses would include $7,000 for referees, $2,000 for concession and park salaries, $300 for utilities, $25 for LED lighting for two hours per court, and miscellaneous expenses of $500. The total expected expense was $9,800, or a profit of $14,480, according to Vice.

The indirect revenue generated could be greater, Vice said. he calculated the following expenses:

Etowah County Mega Sports Complex Authority Chairman Ralph Burke looks at newly installed kitchen equipment in the concession stand.

Food: Based on half of players and/or parents/fans spending $15 at a restaurant or fast food outlet per day

Accommodation: 12 hotel rooms per team for two nights at an average rate of $160

Fuel, ice, etc.

Vice obtained a total estimated indirect economic impact of $52,610 for a 24-team tournament.

If the park accommodated younger players, matches would be played on the pitch, doubling the number of pitches and the size of the tournament that could be staged, Vice said. The cost of referees would increase, he explained, but many other expenses would be the same. while revenues would potentially be doubled.

If the grounds at the Rainbow City complex and the Gadsden State complex are available for a tournament, 36-team tournaments could be held for full-size on-court play, and potential revenue would be increased.

These fields at the Etowah County Mega Sports Complex will be ready for turf in about a month, according to authority members.  The fields on the other side of the concession stand building will be ready in about two weeks.

Ford said he hopes that’s what happens when both facilities are ready to launch the game. Indirect revenue will be spread throughout the area around the county sports complex, he said.

“Attalla has Walmart and Gadsden has the hotels,” he said. Restaurants can be found in these towns and in Rainbow City.

Burke said lodging tax revenue that partially funds the facility has increased — from checks of $8,500 and $9,000 to about $13,000 and $11,000 in the past two months. Increases in hotel rates could explain some of this, but those in authority see it as a sign that people are ready to get out and travel.

Obviously, the project has progressed at the pace hoped by the members of the authority. They imagined grounds to accommodate a variety of sports, and it can still happen. The facility can host events, Ford said, and shows.

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Authority members have expressed frustration over the years, watching the construction of facilities such as Albertville’s Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheater. It was built, Ford noted, with strong city support from the start and with the collection of a dedicated sales tax.

The City of Rainbow City was the biggest partner in this project, buying the property and leasing it to the authority, and building a new road near the complex.

Vice, who also sits on Rainbow City Council, said the sports complex was part of the city’s recently unveiled master plan.

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or [email protected]

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