Sports complex a potential $ source?

Farragut Vice Mayor Ron Pinchok asked the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee for advice, to bring before Board of Mayor and Aldermen, on “how we’re going to be financing” the Town’s intensified push to stimulate tourism and growth through a new branding campaign.

Tim Williams, chairman of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, suggested increasing the number of soccer fields in Town parks to four, which would help “brand” Farragut as a regional youth soccer draw, luring major youth soccer events and hundreds of families to Town — and creating a new revenue stream.

“If you had that kind of draw immediately, all these other things would fall into place much more simply I would think,” Williams added during EDAC’s monthly first Wednesday morning meeting, April 5, in Town Hall Boardroom..

However, Sue Stuhl, Town’s director of Parks & Leisure Services, said her research indicated “six or more” soccer fields would be needed “to the level you want, if you want the regional [draw], where people would stay.”

About possibly reconfiguring Town parks to have six fields, Stuhl said, “We may be able to get to six, but I don’t really know.”

R. Knick Myers, EDAC member and Myers Brothers Holdings co-founder, ran with Williams’ suggestion and told about the vision of leaders in Rome, Ga., who built a multi-million-dollar tennis complex Myers said has been a huge success.

While Myers did not recommend the Town spend millions on a sports venue as Rome did, he expressed admiration with the small Georgia city’s vision.

“They said … ‘If we want to have an economic impact, let’s pick one sport,’” Myers said. “… They spent $20 million on a tennis complex. It’s a year old now.”

Myers said it’s so successful, “They’re already adding on to it.”

The Rome complex already has hosted the Atlantic Coast Conference Tennis Tournament, and is scheduled to host the Southeastern Conference Tennis Tournament in the near future.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Myers said.

Pinchok, meanwhile, said Board of Mayor and Aldermen “have been talking about a hotel-motel tax. Four years ago it was voted on first reading [by Board of Mayor and Aldermen] and approved, but it never made it to second reading.”

In reexamining a hotel-motel tax, “We have been looking at 3 percent because that’s what the City of Knoxville charges,” Pinchok said. “… Oak Ridge generated $600,000 from their hotel/motel tax” in one fiscal year.