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Amateur sports vote pushed back

A Florida developer said Wednesday it has a commitment to finance its share of a proposed amateur sports complex, but the timeline for the project has been pushed back.

The Charlotte City Council’s economic development committee met with Sarasota-based Goodsports, which said its Charlotte project is moving forward. But some council members appear frustrated with the pace of the project, which started in December 2013.

The city’s plan is to invest $25 million into an amateur sports complex that would be built in the parking lot adjacent to Bojangles’ Coliseum. The city has committed to spending $16 million to renovate Bojangles’.

Goodsports would spend $39.7 million on the project.

Last month, Goodsports said it would present a firm financing plan to the committee for Wednesday’s meeting, with a rezoning hearing on Monday. The new plan is for the financing plan to be unveiled in February with a rezoning hearing in April.

The company did not disclose who is willing to invest in the project.

At the December meeting, Goodsports told council members that a similar complex in Wichita, Kan., was about to break ground. The developer said Charlotte would be next.

Since then, the Wichita project has been delayed. Anthony Homer of Goodsports told council members Wednesday that the designs for that project were too expensive.

“We realized that the prototype that we designed would be too expensive for that market,” Homer said. “We had to redo the scope.”

Other Goodsports projects in Missouri and Ohio have also been delayed. Securing financing has been a problem in those markets.

Some council members Wednesday were skeptical of the deal, which comes as council members voted on a debt-forgiveness agreement for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In addition, Chiquita announced Tuesday it would close its Charlotte office with a loss of 320 jobs. The city, county and state approved a nearly $23 million incentive package for Chiquita in 2011, though only a fraction of those incentives were paid. The city and county said the banana company will repay them about $1 million in incentives.

Al Austin said he is concerned because Goodsports was the only company to respond to the city’s request for proposals in the fall of 2013. Claire Fallon asked why other developers aren’t interested in building hotels on Independence Boulevard.

“I don’t want to see another failure,” Fallon said.

Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said the amateur sports market is young.

“The market just hasn’t grabbed amateur sports yet,” Kimble said.

The city’s proposed partnership with Goodsports would be different than other subsidies the city has given developers.

The city’s usual practice is to refund a developer with a portion of new property taxes created by a project. With the amateur sports complex, the city would spend $25 million during the construction phase of the project.

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