League City considers building new sportsplex as Epicenter deal stays pending

A major deal that would have resulted in the creation of a new, bigger sportsplex at no expense to League City has been in limbo for months, and Mayor Pat Hallisey is not sure it will ever happen, prompting the city to move ahead with building new baseball fields at its own expense.

League City’s 4B Corporation Board, which determines how to allocate certain local sales tax dollars toward amateur sports facilities, has set aside $1.48 million to fund the planning and design work for Phase 1 of the new sportsplex, Bay Colony Park, as well as up to $6.88 million for the construction of four baseball fields, a parking lot and a maintenance facility.

Last year, League City and Western Spherical Developers signed a predevelopment agreement that would have resulted in the developer building Bay Colony Park along Ervin Avenue near Calder Road before turning the existing Chester L. Davis Sportsplex along League City Parkway into Epicenter League City, an entertainment hub with a convention center, amphitheater, hotels, restaurants and shops. The deal required the developer to front the money before work could begin, but the developer has been unable to do so, leading to the predevelopment agreement expiring in January 2019, said David Hoover, League City director of planning and development.

“I don’t know if the Epicenter is gonna make it or not,” Hallisey said of the deal.

Still, city officials said they recognize the immediate need for additional baseball fields: Dozens of children who want to play in Little League are turned away annually because League City does not have enough fields to accommodate practices and games. The problem will only get worse as League City continues to grow, officials said.


“We are overcapacity,” said Jason McLendon, League City Little League’s vice president. “As the population continues to grow, let me tell you, we’ve seen [demand] skyrocket.”

To address the problem, League City staff plans to build Bay Colony Park with 4B funds under the idea the Epicenter developer would reimburse the city, Hoover said. The proposal will go before the League City City Council on Nov. 19.

The master plan of Bay Colony Park includes a total of 40 fields, including 15 baseball fields, compared to the existing sportsplex’s 26 total fields, 10 of which are for baseball. The timing and phasing of the work to build out Bay Colony Park has yet to be determined, but both parks would exist simultaneously until a deal is struck to construct Epicenter League City, officials have said.

EPICENTER LEAGUE CITY


In addition to Western Spherical Developers being unable to front the money for Epicenter League City, the plan has changed since its public unveiling last year, Hoover said.

Originally, the plan called for four small hotels to feed the proposed convention center. League City has since changed its ordinances related to hotels, and the plan now calls for one large hotel, which would benefit the city more than four small ones, he said.

Western Spherical Developers is unable to create a large hotel, so League City is in discussions with other developers to see if anyone else is interested, Hoover said.

Linda Merritt with Western Spherical Developers said new roadblocks have made constructing Epicenter challenging. However, Hoover said he is convinced a major development will end up taking over the existing sportsplex eventually, whether it is Western Spherical Developers or a different company that creates it.

“The location is too good. The opportunity is too good,” he said.

Still, Bay Colony Park was never a project that was going to be constructed only if Epicenter League City were built; officials recognize the city needs new baseball fields regardless of the creation of an entertainment hub, Hoover said.

In the meantime, Western Spherical Developers is constructing a Gilley’s restaurant and other attractions near the site of Epicenter League City.•
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

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