Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sportsplex abandons multifield softball plan in Pasco

NEW PORT RICHEY — Three years in the making, the proposed tourism magnet Sportsplex is now dead.

An executive with California-based Sportsplex USA wrote county attorneys last week that the company is pulling out of the proposed multifield softball complex. The letter was faxed with the note, "I'm sorry it has come to this, but maybe it was never meant to be."

"A lot of people on both sides have put in a sincere effort to make this work," wrote Sportsplex chairman Paul Berghoff. "However, the events of the last three years have us skeptical that it will ever happen."

The complex was seen as a way to boost tourism in Pasco by attracting sports tournaments. But it faced several delays over the scope of the project, location and contractual issues.

In December 2009, the company first pulled out of the deal, citing "the constant ridiculous harangue spewed forth by (Commissioner) Jack Mariano." Commissioners later persuaded the company to reconsider.

Last June, Starkey Ranch was named as the site for the five-field, $12 million project. Commissioners had also hoped to purchase more land for youth leagues, though that complicated negotiations as well.

But in January, commissioners heard a proposal by the Porter family, owners of Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel. Wiregrass is negotiating with an unnamed group to build a 30-field complex off State Road 56.

The family wants to use 40 acres set aside for a county park and would like the county to sweeten the deal with an as-yet-undetermined amount of tourist taxes.

At the January meeting, commissioners seemed intrigued by the Porter offer. They said the two complexes wouldn't necessarily compete, but that the county didn't have the money to build and operate both. They asked county staffers to put the Sportsplex plan on ice for two months.

In his letter, Berghoff lamented several "unresolved issues," including the project site, the final design, the timeline and the source of the funding. He also cited the loss of the project's "driving force" — former Commissioner Michael Cox, who lost a re-election bid in November.

News of Sportsplex's decision came with little discussion Tuesday during a commission meeting. Reaction to the letter was mixed.

"I was disgusted," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said in an interview afterward. "We couldn't agree. We were dithering. I don't blame them for backing out because it took so long."

Mariano, a longtime critic of the Sportsplex site, took a different tact.

"I'm absolutely delighted," he said, adding that the complex "doesn't generate hotel nights" and that visitors would likely stay in Pinellas or Hillsborough counties.

Mariano said he was open to considering the Porter proposal but is holding out hope for an alternative proposal at the Starkey site that would include more soccer fields that could be used by youth leagues.

Sportsplex abandons multifield softball plan in Pasco 03/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  2. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later

    Education

    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.
  4. Flower boxes on Fort Harrison in Clearwater to go, traffic pattern to stay

    Roads

    I travel Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater often and I've noticed that the travel lanes have been rerouted to allow for what looks like flower boxes that have been painted by children. There are also a few spaces that push the travel lane to the center that have no boxes. Is this a permanent travel lane now? It …

  5. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals

    Business

    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating high school, Andrew Kashella, in between jobs, knew what he had to do.

    A sign on a front window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales, 37517 Us Highway 19 N, in Palm Harbor, notifies people they are under restructuring  The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received 20 complaints against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. Complainants say they sold the shop their boats and never got paid and/or paid for boats they never received. Pinellas County Consumer Protection is leading the investigation.