The management company hired to operate the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus has filed a lawsuit against Pasco County saying it was wrongly found in default on its operating agreement.
RADDSports filed the legal complaint last month defending its operation since it took on management of the county’s premier sports venue, which opened in 2020. It says the county failed to hold up its end of the bargain.
The 551-page complaint claims that Pasco officials “engaged in a series of bad-faith actions” even before RADDSports took over the campus. It says those actions were “designed ultimately to strip from RADDSports and take over for itself, the right to operate the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus for the next 20 years.”
The county’s default letter to RADDSports claimed that the company did not live up to its obligations to promote sports tourism, but instead focused on organizing local sporting events.
The lawsuit disputes that. The company said that it has invested more than $1.5 million of its own money into Wiregrass Ranch and has met all measurements required to demonstrate it promoted sports tourism. But it says it also was required to provide local programs and met those obligations as well.
The lawsuit claims that Pasco officials ignored information from their own paid consultants that shows RADDSports has drawn more than enough visitors from outside the area than was required.
In an effort to attack RADDSports, the suit claims the county asked local businesses to sign letters alleging the company was promoting events that attracted local participants rather than tourists. The data for those conclusions was not provided and those individual business representatives refused to sign the letters prepared by the county attorney’s office, according to the lawsuit.
“The county has done this all while itself breaching its contractual obligations to provide certain equipment needed to maintain and operate the sports park property and construct five multi-purpose fields on the sports park property to help attract sports tourists and provide additional facilities for use during the week for Pasco County children,” the suit states.
It says RADDSports officials have tried to work with the county over areas of dispute and negotiate future contract provisions that would be mutually beneficial. It also accuses Pasco of using “acts of intimidation and threats” to keep it from getting public records that would “shed light on the county’s claims,” in violation of Florida’s public records law.
RADDSports is seeking damages including profits that the company expected over the full 20 years of its contract with Pasco County.
H. Ray Allen of the Carlton Fields law firm representing Pasco County in the case, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The county attorney’s office declined to comment on pending litigation.
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When the County Commission reviewed and approved the first version of the default letter in October, they also received a plan detailing how the county could operate the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus in the absence of RADDSports. It included having county Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, along with tourism officials, take over management and promotion of the campus at a cost of approximately $2.9 million in the short term until another management plan is approved.
County officials pointed out in the default letter that it was part of RADDSports’s job to bring in overnight tourists to participate in events at Wiregrass Ranch. It also said that the company’s representatives had turned some tourists away and that even the hotel built as a partner on the sports campus property was concerned about the lack of guests.
Hotel stays generate taxes used to promote Pasco’s tourism brand, Experience Florida’s Sports Coast.