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  1. Florida Politics

Hillsborough commissioners move forward on amateur sports complex

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says the plan to build an amateur sports complex would boost the economy.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says the plan to build an amateur sports complex would boost the economy.
Published Dec. 4, 2014

TAMPA — Hillsborough County is moving ahead with plans to build an amateur multisport complex, a $15 million project commissioners hope will increase tourism and act as an economic boon for the area.

Commissioner Ken Hagan brought the proposal before the county commission Wednesday, citing a need for a facility with 16 or more multipurpose fields that would target soccer, football and lacrosse. He said the county's lack of such a complex has caused leagues to pass over Tampa in favor of other cities than can host large tournaments.

"What we have confirmed is that the need exists in Hillsborough County,'' Hagan said, "and a facility with 16 or more fields will improve the marketability of Hillsborough County as a destination for amateur sports tournaments."

The complex could also help relieve stress on local leagues that are at capacity and would benefit from having access to the fields.

"The overall economic impact is significant," Hagan said.

Hagan stressed the importance of public-private partnerships and minimizing operating costs by working with the private sector and the sports authority. The key would be finding companies that could construct and operate the complex, Hagan said.

The commission voted unanimously to have county staff develop a process for procurement and development of a site and determine the best model to construct and operate the facility. Staff was instructed to report back within 90 days.

"I think this is the right direction to go," Commissioner Victor Crist said. "The fact that you put an emphasis on public-private partnerships and looking at the private sector to work with us is important."

In other business, commissioners approved funding for a local incentive award to the film production company behind The Infiltrator, a feature film based on the memoirs of Tampa resident Robert Mazur, a former DEA agent who busted cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

The approved agreement provides a local incentive capped at $250,000, but it could be as low as $75,000. A similar agreement was approved back in March but fell through when the state Legislature did not renew funding for a statewide program.

Because of the lack of state funding, the $47.5 million movie, starring Emmy and Tony award winner Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, will not be filming here as much as originally planned.

"The Legislature this past year decided not to replenish funds . . . leaving Infiltrator producers little choice but to scale back their work in Florida," Hagan said. "The bottom line is this industry is incentive driven."

This local incentive is the first of its kind in Florida, Hagan said, and will make Hillsborough a competitive filming site.

The Infiltrator is scheduled to begin filming in 2015.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2443. Follow @cljohnst.