At the same time, the county wants to limit its risk should that mega sports complex, currently under construction near Route 288 and Powhite Parkway, flop.
Lawyers for the county are negotiating a 20-year lease for nine soccer fields, a few basketball courts and a senior center at SportsQuest, according to officials.
SportsQuest does not own the land to be leased, but Garrett Hart, an official with Chesterfield’s department of economic development, said that SportsQuest will be closing on the land when the county cuts a check for $4.3 million for the lease.
“We are protected from a lease standpoint with a lien on 114 acres for the leased portion of the deal,” Hart said. “So should the project not be completed, we get first position lien against the property.”
He said the county would foreclose on the property if the fields are not built.
The proposed lease will be voted on today at a County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The county has also proposed a sort of tax increment financing, where SportsQuest can get back five years of tax money from both sales and property tax increases if it meets certain performance criteria. That’s a risk-free investment, the county said.
“SportsQuest does not get the economic development incentives unless they complete the project and meet the performance objective,”
In its agenda, the county used numbers widely circulated by SportsQuest marketing materials, such as a projected hiring of 500 employees and a $250 million investment. That figure includes prospective commercial real estate development that would piggy-back on the sports facilities with amenities such as a hotel and office space.
Hart said the county would look at payroll stubs to see that the complex has hired at least 500 full-time employees. SportsQuest would prove that it had invested at least $100 million when the assessed value rises by that much, officials said.
The county said it needs more athletic facilities.
Mike Golden, the director of parks and recreation in Chesterfield, said that residents will have use of the senior center and basketball courts most of the time and use of the turf fields during the week but not on weekends.
He said the $4.3 million the county is paying to SportsQuest is money that was already allocated. “These are all recreational facilities of the type that we need over the next five years or so, and we are giving up improving on four fields for the use of nine new fields,” Golden said.
Directors of several local soccer leagues have expressed concern that the fields won’t be available when they need them. Golden said he plans to negotiate with SportsQuest on the leagues’ behalf.
Some residents are concerned about the use of the funds at a time when budgets are tight.
John Addison, director of Midlothian Youth Soccer League, said he’s not sure why county money is used for a public venture when the county has cut back maintenance on several fields.
“As a concept, I think SportsQuest is a great idea, and it will be wonderful if it happens as planned for the county and for athletes,” he said.
“My concern is the practical application right now. There are just so many questions that are unanswered.
“What happens if the project doesn’t come to fruition? Does the county have the money to complete it?”
Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send news tips to [email protected].