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Sports park study will
cost $40,000

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Will a youth sports park be viable on developable land near the intersection of I-435 and Route 45?

Community input has indicated there certainly is a demand for another youth sports complex in the Northland, but Parkville officials want a professional study completed to confirm that notion.

Parkville officials--specifically the city’s finance committee comprised of several aldermen--are willing to spend $40,000 to hear what a market and economic impact study will say before moving forward. The finance committee met Monday afternoon to discuss the topic.

A task force appointed by the Parkville Economic Development Council (EDC) has suggested the city build a youth sports park on developable land located southeast of the intersection of I-435 and Route 45.

The task force says the project would benefit Parkville's tourism and retail industries. It would also funnel hotel occupancy tax revenue to the city of Parkville.

Lauren Palmer, city administrator, indicated hospitality tax revenue dollars are down, especially since the closing of a couple downtown bed and breakfast establishments, including the Romantic Getaway Today Inn.

“We have seen those (revenues) trickle off a little bit,” said Palmer.

A preliminary site layout, conducted by Sports Plan Studio and Bartlett & West Engineers, suggest that the southwest region of the intersection of I-435 and Route 45 will provide sufficient space for the construction of a sports complex.

The proposed project would involve the construction of approximately 12 FIFA regulation soccer fields and associated parking lots. Additionally, the project could involve the construction of a maintenance building, indoor sports facility, hotel, and perhaps retail space.

Palmer indicated the reason the task force is most interested in the development of a youth sports park is simply demand.

“There is a real demand for use sports facilities in the Northland,” said Palmer. “We have heard anecdotally that the Northland is under served by use sports facilities like this and we think there is a niche that Parkville can fill that is compatible with our community.”

The city has interviewed three advisory and planning companies that provide consulting services to cities interested in bringing conventions, sports, and revenue to an area. Following the interview process, city officials have identified Convention, Sports & Leisure, Inc. of Plano, TX as the best prospect.

“They are really a leader in their field and do these studies all over the United States. But what really made them stand out as the frontrunner in this process is they have a lot of experience in the Kansas City region. They have done a lot of work for all kinds of groups around Kansas City, most notably Sporting KC. They really understand this area and the market well,” Palmer said.

“A lot of the market background and study they will have already completed for other clients, which helps the city of Parkville get a more affordable rate on this study. Of the three finalist firms that we interviewed, they were the only firm that agreed to do our entire scope of work within the budgeted amount of $40,000,” she added.

The study will look at the entire region surrounding the intersection of I-435 and Route 45 to identify any competing or complementary facilities and ultimately determine how the proposed sports complex with related accommodations would fit in, said Palmer.

The planning company would also reach out to potential stakeholders including local recreation sports organizations, neighboring school faculty, and national sports organizations. Once the consultant gets a feel from the community and stakeholders, the firm would then complete a financial analysis.

The firm will also evaluate the viability of a retail development and hotel. Should the firm determine the site is not a good fit for a youth sports park, the city would be provided with an alternative option that is more feasible for the property.

City officials say it is too early in the process to say whether they are interested in purchasing the land or constructing the sports complex. At this point, Palmer said she is unaware of the value of the land or what price the city would have to pay if it chooses to acquire the property at some point.

Currently, the 350 acres of developable land is either owned or controlled by banks. However, the city does have a hand in the game. Nearly a decade ago, the city decided to undertake two Neighborhood Improvements Districts to finance an extension of Brink-Meyer Road with an associated retaining wall and public sewer project in the area.

According to a recent policy report, the city plans to issue general obligation bonds for the Brink Meyer Road Neighborhood Improvement District and the Brush Creek Drainage Neighborhood Improvement District later this year with the city's first debt payments coming due in 2015.

To pay for the proposed project, the city has budgeted $40,000 to fund studies to this region. Palmer said $35,000 will come from the general fund and approximately $5,000 will come from the economic development fund. Presently, city officials predict revenues in the economic development fund coming up shy of $5,000 and plan on asking the Parkville Economic Development Council to put up $1,500.

The finance committee unanimously supported the idea of entering into a contract with Conventions, Sports, and Leisure, Inc. to perform the market feasibility and economic impact study.

“I think this is critical work and I would love to see this get started as soon as the board passes this,” said Alderman Jim Werner, who chairs the finance committee.

The measure will be voted on during the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board of aldermen. Should the board approve the market feasibility study on May 6, city officials have indicated they would encourage the planning company to quickly move forward with their study.