Sketch by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood
Hoover Event Center exterior 3
Here's an external sketch of the planned indoor event center being built next to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The Hoover City Council is considering hiring a Florida-based sports facility management company to oversee development, marketing and management for the new 124-acre sports complex being built next to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, as well as the Hoover Met itself.
The council heard a presentation from a top executive of Sports Facilities Management of Clearwater, Florida, Thursday night during its work session.
The company has worked with $6 billion worth of sports, recreation, fitness and entertainment venues over the past 13 years, said Jason Clement, a founding partner who serves as the company’s chief operating officer.
It has helped develop 1.5 million square feet of indoor event space and manages more than 800 acres of outdoor sports fields across the country, Clement said. The company currently manages 14 venues and has six more under construction, he said. Last year, its facilities drew a combined 18 million visitors, and that number is expected to rise to 20 million this year, he said.
Venues the company has developed from the ground up include:
- Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (80 acres with seven outdoor fields and an 86,000-square-foot indoor facility)
- Myrtle Beach Sports Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (100,000-square-foot indoor sports facility)
- Upward Star Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina (six soccer fields and 120,000-square-foot indoor facility)
- Round Rock Sports Complex in Round Rock, Texas (82,800-square-foot indoor facility)
- Spooky Nook Sports Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (more than 50 acres of outdoor facilities and more than 700,000 square feet of indoor event space under one roof)
How much would it cost?
Sports Facilities Management is proposing to manage both the Hoover Met and new 124-acre sports complex under a contract agreement.
The proposal calls for the city to pay the company $340,000 between now and the anticipated May 2017 opening of the 155,000-square-foot indoor event center, Councilman Joe Rives said. Sports Facilities Management would be charged with developing an operating budget and financial forecast, selecting vendors and sport-specific materials such as court flooring and equipment, coordinating with the design and construction contractors, and creating organizational, operational, programming and business development plans.
After the facility opens, the proposal calls for the city to pay Sports Facilities Management $28,000 a month for full-time management services, plus the cost of any on-site employees the company hires on behalf of the city, Rives said.
Clement said the city certainly would have the option to hire its own employees to run the complex, but personnel costs likely would be much higher through the city.
Some people might also question why the city needs to hire an outside company to manage the complex, he said. But his company has the expertise and connections in the sports and events industry that will make the return on investment pay off greatly, he said.
Who gets priority field space?
Representatives from Hoover youth sports organizations were present tonight, and one asked how scheduling of the fields and indoor facility would be handled. Clement said his company would partner with the Parks and Recreation Department and local sports organizations to work through scheduling issues.
One woman asked if local sports organizations would get priority over outside groups that want to rent the fields and indoor space. Clement said that all depends on the directive from the city and what city officials say is the priority.
At some venues they manage, their partnering public agency gave preference to local groups, but the owners of the Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg set economic development as a priority and wanted to give priority to groups that bring in outsiders, Clement said. He imagines in Hoover, it would be a hybrid approach, he said.
Councilman Jack Wright said “it’s a Hoover park. The Hoover citizens own it, and the Hoover citizens would be a priority.”
Councilman John Lyda asked whether any of the other venues operated by Sports Facilities Management in the Southeast would be in competition with the Hoover sports complex.
Clement said none of them would. Most of these groups that put on tournaments like to rotate around to different places, he said. His company manages three indoor event venues in South Carolina, and there are plenty of events to go around, he said.
His company does not operate any venues in Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi, he said.
David Wilson, a former president of the Hoover Youth Lacrosse Organization, said he thinks it would be a good idea to hire an outside company to manage the sports complex, at least initially. But the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is the best he has seen of any place he has lived, including Atlanta, Tampa and Macon, Georgia, he said. He thinks they might be able to run the complex themselves once they understand what they have, he said.
Craig Moss, Hoover’s parks and recreation director, said he favors the idea of hiring an outside firm such as Sports Facilities Management.
“I think they’re excellent,” he said. “It’s something I’m definitely for. I agree with everything they do and everything they represent.”
Councilman John Greene said he believes Sports Facilities Management is a reputable company, but he would feel much more comfortable if the City Council had more than one management proposal to consider.
Moss said he’s not aware of anybody else that does what Sports Facilities Management does.
Councilman Rives said he’s very much in favor of hiring the company.
Wright said he was very impressed with the company’s proposal and doesn’t know that anyone else has the expertise that this company has. The council wants to receive more feedback from the athletic associations and likely will make a decision on what to do in mid-July, Wright said.