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Pasco commission to make calls on tennis project

DADE CITY — A year after Pasco County and Saddlebrook Resort agreed to jointly build a $7.9-million tennis stadium — and six years after the idea was first broached — the partners still haven't settled all their differences on the tourism project.

County commissioners are tentatively scheduled to umpire the negotiations at their May 27 meeting, tourism officials said Wednesday.

"That's when they'll hear the (remaining issues in the) pending negotiations that the two sides just have not been able to agree on," Eric Keaton, the county's tourism coordinator.

In January, former County Attorney Robert Sumner told the St. Petersburg Times that a sticking point remains over hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure costs for the 5,000-seat stadium.

Neither assistant county attorney Jane Fagan, who's handling the county's side of the negotiations, nor Saddlebrook owner Tom Dempsey was available for comment Wednesday.

The two sides had worked out an earlier problem over road access to the stadium. Fagan and Dempsey told the Times in March that they've agreed to use an existing service road along the Wesley Chapel resort to reach the stadium, if the developers of Wiregrass Ranch, who donated the stadium's 24-acre site, cannot build the stadium's access through Wiregrass in time, as originally envisioned. The Wiregrass Ranch development fell into limbo late last year because of the housing market downturn.

On another matter, the tourism council on Wednesday agreed to earmark $10,000 to set up Pasco as a venue for an international biathlon called

Powerman.

Powerman is a yearlong world championship that culminates every September in Switzerland, Keaton said. Alabama hosts one of the qualifier rounds for the running and biking event, and now Pasco is vying to host another.

But the council wants Powerman organizers to provide more details on their budget and marketing plans before it contributes $10,000 to secure the county's place in the race.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at cyap@sptimes.com or (813)909-4613.

Pasco commission to make calls on tennis project 04/16/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 9:15pm]
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