Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco sporting complex at Wiregrass hits major snag

DADE CITY — The multimillion-dollar sports complex in Wesley Chapel's Wiregrass development has hit a major snag.

A lawyer for the family that owns the development on Monday proposed a radically different deal on the privately operated multifield park that commissioners had pledged $14 million to build.

According to Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein, Wiregrass lawyer Bill Merrill said the family would donate land for the project if the county remained committed to spending that money to build the park. Pasco would then have to find a separate company to construct and operate it.

Wiregrass officials would no longer have any responsibility for the facility design and operations.

County Administrator John Gallagher said the offer is a major change from what commissioners had sought — a tourism facility built by the county and run by an outside group.

"That's not what we sent out a request for proposals for," he said. "We as a staff need to sit down and see what options the board has."

Gallagher said he sent the Wiregrass officials a proposed contract for the park several weeks ago, asking for comments. He said this week's counteroffer was the first time he's heard back.

J.D. Porter, whose family owns the surrounding Wiregrass development, did not return a phone message late Tuesday.

The news is the latest in a series of disappointments as the county tries to spend millions in hotel taxes on a tourism facility. Of the $14 million pledged for the Wiregrass park, $11.5 million was tourist taxes that had been accumulating since 1991. The other $2.5 million is sales tax bond proceeds.

Previous ideas, such as a tennis stadium near Saddlebrook or a Sportsplex softball facility near Odessa, never came to fruition.

In April, commissioners approved the plans for the 200-acre Fields at Wiregrass, which would have eight baseball and softball fields and a dozen multipurpose fields for soccer or lacrosse. County officials then began negotiating with the Porter family to write an operation and maintenance agreement for the complex.

It's hard to say at this point whether the negotiations have officially been reset. "We won't know until we get more information in writing," said Commissioner Ted Schrader.

But if the plan falls apart, it would throw several major issues into flux. The county would have to find a new use for the tourism money. It would have to find a new plan for a district park that is promised under the Wiregrass development plan.

It would also have to satisfy an economic development agreement with Raymond James Financial, which has plans for an expansion at Wiregrass. That agreement envisioned a major park located next door to the expansion.

The plan was also seen as a way to keep the national lacrosse tournament known as the Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions. After it received a competing offer from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, the event recently signed a new four-year agreement with Pasco.

But that contract also says Pasco will add more lacrosse fields in the Wesley Chapel area in two years.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The Porter family that owns the Wiregrass development in Wesley Chapel is committed to donating enough land for a new multifield sports park, as long as Pasco commits to spend $14 million to build the park. The original story misstated how the money would be spent.

Pasco sporting complex at Wiregrass hits major snag 09/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 4:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  2. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries

    Bucs

    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  3. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week

    Bucs

    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  4. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91

    Obituaries

    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  5. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years

    Nation

    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501