Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gary Sheffield signed as co-owner of planned Wesley Chapel sports complex

Gary Sheffield said his reputation should erase anyone’s questions about fundraising.

Gary Sheffield said his reputation should erase anyone’s questions about fundraising.

WESLEY CHAPEL — A Tampa developer trying to raise $23 million in private money to build a Pasco County youth sports complex has turned to baseball star Gary Sheffield and a prominent league owner to attract investors.

James Talton, owner of Blue Marble Strategic, has signed Sheffield and Chuck White as "co-owners" of Pasco Sports LLC, the company formed to build a 19-field sports complex with about $11 million in Pasco tourism taxes and the private investments. The park would be north of the Shops at Wiregrass on land donated by the Porter family.

"My role is doing the operations," said Sheffield, who played Little League baseball in Tampa and spent 22 years in the big leagues. "I'm the spokesperson, and I'm promoting the facility."

Sheffield declined to say whether he had invested any cash in the venture. But he said he will use his connections to help land financing.

He said he envisions the park, which is set to have nine major league regulation ball fields, a stadium and 10 youth-sized fields, will be used also for private camps and a lure for scouts.

He said he will help oversee the design to make sure fields meet major league standards.

"We want to give parents a destination to bring their kids to so they can fulfill their dreams," he said.

Talton said he approached the men separately a few months ago. Sheffield, it turned out, was interested because the idea dovetailed with his dream of launching a facility or program to help youths.

The goal now, Talton said, is to find the right mix of equity partners and long-term investor financing.

Talton had once talked of the park being used as a spring training facility, but so far no teams have expressed interest publicly.

White said his role is marketing. White owns the IBC Baseball League, which runs youth baseball tournaments, and Game Ready Scout Day, which trains youths for college or pro-level play and scouts, and evaluates players from across the country.

White said he'll use his contacts to organize tournaments at the facility, bringing in high-school-level players ready to make the leap to college or the minor leagues.

"Companies already know about our project, and they have an interest," he said.

Talton, who signed the agreement with the county in January, has until mid-July to find the money. But such a task could prove difficult, say observers in sports and development.

"The economy is still challenging for that type of fundraising," said John Webb, president of the Florida Sports Foundation. But he said youth sports have become a big draw.

J.D. Porter, whose family donated the Pasco park land, said that the private sector could be skittish unless investors could be assured of a reasonable return.

He said spring training could eventually come to Pasco, but the county park "is best suited for youth sports."

Sheffield said he's confident his reputation will dispel anyone's concerns about fundraising.

"They don't know who I know," he said.

Gary Sheffield signed as co-owner of planned Wesley Chapel sports complex 05/01/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 9:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Before Janessa Shannon's death, parents traded accusations of abuse

    Crime

    TAMPA — Long before Janessa Shannon's remains were discovered in a Hillsborough County nature preserve, her parents tried to convince court officials that she was in danger.

    From her own family.

    Janessa Shannon, 13, was found dead July 12 in the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Hillsborough County. [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]
  2. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams

    Bucs

    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  3. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017

    Blogs

    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  4. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.