A Zephyrhills man is making a run a what he hopes will be Pasco County’s next sports-tourism attraction.
Bernard "BB’' Roberts’ Fast Sprint Quick LLC is proposing to build a "state-of-the-art, world-class track facility and professional athlete training facility'' in Wesley Chapel. The proposed site is adjacent to the ongoing construction of a 98,000-square-foot indoor sports center on the Wiregrass Ranch Sport Campus of Pasco County.
That multipurpose fieldhouse is scheduled to be completed in July and hold its first event, a high school volleyball tournament, in September. It will join the privately owned Advent Health Center Ice, Saddlebrook Resort and the not-yet-open Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellbeing Center in Zephyrhills as sports-tourism draws.
Roberts wants to add track to that field with an International Training & Running Center capable of hosting Amateur Athletic Union, high school and collegiate championship meets, plus community runs and summer camps for youths.
Roberts, a onetime track star at Wesley Chapel High School, already works with track athletes as coach and director of the Speed Starz Track/Running Club, which trains at Wiregrass Ranch High School. He said the approximately 110-member club is outgrowing the high school location.
He pitched the idea for the International Training & Running Center to the Pasco Tourist Development Council in January and is scheduled to meet with county planners to discuss permitting and other requirements. Roberts said there is a ballpark construction-cost estimate to build the facility, but he declined to reveal it until he gained more information from the county.
Preliminary plans and conceptual drawings submitted to the county show covered seating abutting an eight-lane circular track of Mondotrack, a synthetic surface developed by Mondo, an international company that supplies track surfaces to the Olympic games. The drawings show that field events would be held on the side of track opposite the spectator stands. The proposed site is just north of the multipurpose building construction site.
Plenty of details would have to be worked out, including contractual agreements with Pasco County and RADDSports, which is overseeing construction and management of the county-owned indoor sports building. RADDSports has the right of first refusal on future development of some of the remainder of the 80-acre sports campus site. The multipurpose fieldhouse that will host basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and other team competitions, and an adjoining hotel represent a $44 million investment in the sports-tourism market by Pasco County and the private sector.
"There’s no agreement to move forward with anything at this time,'' said Pasco Commission Chairman Mike Moore, who also chairs the Pasco Tourist Development Council. "I’m not saying the (track) proposal is good or bad. We have to look for what’s best for the citizens, best for tourism and best for parks.''
Roberts submitted a financial statement to the Tourist Development Council that showed a proposed 15-event calendar — some season-long competitions and others as once-a-year state high school or college championships — that could net nearly $915,000 after paying a 15 percent fee to RADD Sports.
Roberts said he hoped to have the facility completed by the end of the year.
"We are praying we can get everything in 2020,'' he said. "I don’t want to jump the gun too soon, but I’m very optimistic.''