League City has struck an agreement that includes funding for building a new sportsplex and turning the current Chester L. Davis Sportsplex into a mixed-use development with spaces for live entertainment, hotels, shops, restaurants, professional sports, offices and more.
City Council unanimously approved a predevelopment agreement with private developer Epicenter of League City LLC during a special closed meeting Tuesday. As part of the partnership Epicenter will turn the sportsplex at 1251 Hwy. 96 into Epicenter League City, a hub for entertainment and recreation, said Sarah Green Osborne, League City’s director of communications and media relations.
Epicenter will also fund the design and construction of a new, much larger sportsplex to replace the Davis Sportsplex, which is at capacity. The new sportsplex will be built on 106 acres of city-owned land on the west end of Ervin Avenue, west of I-45.
When asked why Epicenter wanted to develop on the site of the current sportsplex instead of elsewhere, city officials said the location is a great parcel for development because of its proximity to I-45 and how easily it is spotted by commuters.
“It’s about location, location, location,” Osborne said.
Mayor Pat Hallisey said the city has missed several golden opportunities in the past because it did not rise to the challenge. This time it did, and it paid off, he said.
“I think that this offers a wonderful opportunity within our community for a win-win-win situation,” he said.
The users of the sportsplex get a bigger and better facility, taxpayers do not have to pay for it, and the city will get more tax revenue to use to address the city’s drainage and traffic challenges, Hallisey said.
Council member Nick Long agreed, saying the sportsplex is at capacity, but the city cannot justify spending $35 million on new ball fields when it is facing a potential $230 million bond to fix more pressing issues in the city, he said.
“Without this it would be extremely difficult to redo those ball fields,” Long said.
Hallisey said the city offered Epicenter no incentives for the agreement. The council views the deal as mutually beneficial to both parties, Hallisey said.
“We did not entice them with financial contributions, and, gosh, are we happy that’s not the case here,” he said.
The agreement is the first hurdle of many, but council members said they like what they have seen so far. It is too early to tell how much the work will cost or exact dates when work will be start or end, but the city’s goal is to get this project going sooner rather than later, Osborne said.
City Manager John Baumgartner said the city is working toward approving a development agreement by early 2019.
There will be no interruption of services to sportsplex users while the new sportsplex is constructed; the new sportsplex will be completely built before the current one is demolished, Greer said.