Pinellas Park city officials are now accepting bids for a $23.5 million youth sports complex they believe will help revitalize blighted communities and provide new opportunities for underserved residents.
Administrators received $13.5 million to fund the expansive facility’s construction last year, and began advertising the project Monday. They have also issued a request for quotes (RFQ) for a “state-of-the-art, central youth sports complex that will have a regional impact” on Pinellas County residents.
City Manager Bart Diebold explained the facility would cater to baseball, football, cheerleading, track and field, roller hockey, lacrosse and soccer. He added that “no sport is off the table,” and ensured a wide variety of offerings will be a focus of the RFQ process.
“Our goal is to enter into a public-private partnership that will provide premium athletic opportunities to both youth and adults,” Diebold said. “Pickleball is, certainly, a hot topic, and we wouldn’t rule that out.”
Developers will have plenty of space. The sports complex’s location is at 4100 66th Ave. N., currently home to the city’s 39-acre Youth Park.
That site is a critical aspect for multiple reasons. The first is access, as the Youth Park is adjacent to U.S. Highway 19 and less than two miles from Interstate 275. It is also just a few miles from St. Petersburg city limits.
Perhaps most important to officials and residents, the site abuts Pinellas Park and unincorporated Lealman’s Community Redevelopment Areas (CRAs). As Diebold noted, local governments establish CRAs to support new growth in areas where substandard facilities, inadequate infrastructure and other issues typically limit economic investment and development.
Youth sports is a lucrative and growing industry. According to the Sports Events and Tourism Association, $39.7 billion in national amateur and youth athletic spending generated a $91.8 billion total economic impact in 2021.
Diebold said the project “will directly improve” Lealman, “positively impacting both the county and the City of Pinellas Park through new economic and social improvements.”
“This state-of-the-art sports complex will revitalize the blighted areas and provide opportunities to those underserved in the surrounding community,” Diebold elaborated. “Additionally, it will be a driver for redevelopment by attracting and supporting commercial resources to the area, which will encourage more people to live, work, shop, dine and vacation in Pinellas Park and other nearby vicinities.”
He noted that over 55,000 people live in Pinellas Park. More than 20,000 call Lealman home, and Kenneth City has 5,000 residents. Diebold added that many of those families earn less than the national average.
He and other city officials believe the complex’s proximity to those areas will increase youth accessibility. Diebold said it would also provide opportunities for them to pursue athletic ambitions “at a superlative facility” unique to the region.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection oversees the funding disbursement and “project deliverables.” While that is more of a formality, Diebold relayed some ecological benefits.
Those include installing a new stormwater attenuation system and updating the park’s current system, which he said would improve water quality and flow. Workers will also repair and improve a “major” open conveyance ditch running through the site.
The development’s next step is a March 20 mandatory pre-bid meeting at the city’s Public Works Operation Center. Interested companies will have until March 28 to submit questions and quote packages are due April 6.
While the youth sports facility is a Pinellas Park project, Diebold reiterated that its “perfectly centralized location” would benefit all county residents by offering “premium athletics to the community, the revitalization and redevelopment of a blighted area and the bolstering of public health and safety.”
“And the opportunity to garner tourism into an area that hasn’t been customarily prone to tourists because of its lack of a localized attraction,” he added.
Source: THE ST. PETE CATALYST