By PETE DANIEL
Erie County administrator
Local officials broke ground July 10 on the next phase of the Cedar Point Sports Center. Next to the outdoor fields at Sports Force Park, will be a 200,000-square-foot, state-of the-art indoor sports complex.
The main venue consists of 10 full-size basketball courts, which convert into 20 regulation volleyball courts. A separate championship court is also included, along with other related amenities, such as a public walking track. While these two sports are the main attraction, other indoor sporting events can be accommodated. A sports medicine center will be located within and will also serve the outdoor park as well as the local community. Additional space within the building is also being set aside for a possible community fitness center.
It’s just another great example of what can occur when public and private entities can share a vision and then make the determined effort to get it done. It took two community stalwarts – Cedar Fair and Firelands Regional Medical Center, to partner with the Erie County Commissioners and the State of Ohio to make it a reality.
As County Commissioner Pat Shenigo said: “When governments and private industry come together, good things happen.”
Along with tourism generated by the outdoor venue, projections for the indoor piece suggest a $20 million economic impact in the region each year. It should attract another 70,000 visitors and generate about $700,000 in new revenues for the local governments. During the colder months, the indoor component takes advantage of the local tourism infrastructure already in place.
The partners funding breaks down as follows:
· $23 million from Erie County
· $5 million from Cedar Fair
· $11 million from FRMC
The county’s share was made possible from a new state law allowing for an increase in Erie County’s lodging tax rate. The county leveraged these funds into a complex financing to provide their share. Cedar Fair is also assuming the operating risk of the athletic programs. A significant donation was made to FRMC from Lee C. Jewett, a former Cedar Fair official and long-time member of FRMC’s Board of Directors. The sports medicine clinic will be named in his honor. The complex has the potential to be a $50 million investment if a community recreation partner can be put in place.
These facilities mark a continued local effort to capitalize on the growing youth sports market and the tourism opportunities they present. It was best summarized by the comments made at the ground-breaking ceremonies by Cedar Fair’s general counsel and executive vice-president Duff Milkie: “We are poised to take the next step in realizing our goal of creating a one-of-a-kind facility that will draw additional visitation to our area, be available to our local communities for their use and enjoyment, and solidify Erie County’s position as a major youth sports center in the Midwest and America’s sports-family-fun capital.”