Under the headline, ‘The Youth Sports Megacomplex Comes to Town, Hoping Teams Will Follow,’ The New York Times tracks the appeal of large sports campuses such as LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson and why they’ve become so popular. Overall, they’ve grown to become a $5 billion per year industry. Complete story
Some key takeaways from the report for Emerson, Bartow County and Northwest Georgia:
-The NYT follows a family through Emerson and the money spent for accommodations, food and equipment.
-Led by what Disney did more than a decade ago, more such complexes are planned, including two in Alabama.
-Even as the prime baseball and softball seasons are ending as fall begins, LakePoint’s Champions Center “is booked through next summer with cheerleading competitions and volleyball, basketball and futsal tournaments.”
-The ups and downs of LakePoint’s finances are outlined as well. According to the report:
There also have been some missteps. Building a massive youth sports development is a capital-intensive project, and the original investors ran out of cash after only 100 acres had been developed. In June, a hedge fund based near Los Angeles, Rimrock Capital Management, took the complex into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and, as the major creditor, decided to try to turn its debt into equity. “They are doubling down,” said Dan Berman, a senior managing director of GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group, the Atlanta-based firm Rimrock brought in to restructure the deal. With more than $100 million already at work, a priority is more hotels and restaurants: Signs marking the future homes of a Holiday Inn Express and a Spring Hill Suites stand alongside the bulldozers creating the roads that will connect them with the sprawling LakePoint complex. Berman said more sports facilities were a certainty, but Rimrock is also exploring more options, like added amusement attractions and a convention center.
-LakePoint’s impact also is highlighted:
“Since opening in 2014, more than 3 million visitors from all 50 states have come to play here, producing what the county said was an annual economic impact of $97.4 million. Food, bar and hotel revenue in the county … was up 80 percent.”
Perhaps the bottom line of it all:
“As families travel more miles so their children can play more games and be seen by more college recruiters, sprawling complexes like The Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and LakePoint have fine-tuned both their facilities and their programs to attract millions of visitors every year. And as they have succeeded, these megacomplexes — and other hybrid sports/vacation destinations like them — have become staples of yet another growing youth sports phenomenon: the tourna-cation circuit.”