The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority, which works in conjunction with the Chesterfield County Department of Economic Development, approved a motion yesterday to allow Chairman John Hughes to sign a final lease document when he is ready. The county attorney and the county administrator would then need to sign the document.
Details are still being finalized, but in the most recent publicly available draft, Chesterfield would pay $2.3 million for a 20-year lease for fields, basketball courts and a senior center. County officials declined to share the current draft of the agreement, or financial documents / projections from SportsQuest that they used to make their decisions.
When the final deal is signed, the county will hand over $4.3 million, SportsQuest will pay current landowner Mark Sowers and the title will change hands to SportsQuest. Sowers has so far refused to comment to BizSense.
Although the hearing lasted only a few minutes and was mostly procedural, opponents of the public funding spoke out, invited by Hughes.
Rob Ukrop, president of the Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club, said that SportsQuest’s plan has changed over and over again and that he’d like to have more time to review it.
He said his group and other soccer clubs have previously said they’d want Chesterfield’s lease with SportsQuest to allow soccer teams to use the turf fields on weekends. As of the last publicly available draft, county organizations could only use the fields Monday through Thursday.
“Everything we’ve seen continues to change. Why are we rushing on this?” Ukrop asked.
Neither the development authority nor SportsQuest founder Steve Burton, who was present, addressed Ukrop’s concerns.
Also interesting at the hearing: Chesterfield’s attorney said that the lawyers have worked out a pecking order should SportsQuest not be able to meet its obligations. Chesterfield would be able to foreclose on the project and would be the first to get paid, followed by landowner Mark Sowers and then Sportexe, an artificial turf company. It’s unclear how much SportsQuest is paying Sportexe for its turf. A Times-Dispatch story said that Sportexe is a “partner,” but what that means isn’t clear. Sportexe has not returns calls from BizSense.
Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send news tips to [email protected].