Story about sports complex built in Santa Rosa with private money – $18 million, self supporting

26 Dec

 I was looking through the Santa Rosa Press Democrat when I found this interesting article posted below.  It makes CARD’s plans for their aquatic center look like a $28 million joke.

CARD wants to put a bond on our homes to pay for a $28 million swimming pool with a roof and stands, to be used mostly for private swim clubs. CARD has already acknowledged, this aquatic center will never be self-supporting, and everybody on the board knows the first bond is only the beginning.

This $18 million center in Santa Rosa will house various sports activities, as well as commercial businesses who will help foot the bills. They will even have meeting rooms for groups.  

As far as I can find, this center is being built entirely with private money. If you can find otherwise, pipe up. 

It’s compared to a similar facility in San Jose which I have actually seen – the Silver Creek Sports Complex. The North Valley Hockey Club has attended many tournaments at this facility, it’s very nice – indoor soccer, hockey, and gymnastics, with a big restaurant right in the middle. Converted from an unused warehouse, that building also houses commercial businesses. It’s in a nice area accessible by bike trail, which doubles as a pedestrian nature trail.

CARD’s plan is for an aquatic center, period. As far as I can tell, no big sponsors have stepped forward, and CARD isn’t recruiting the big corporations like WalMart or Pepsi who offer grants for projects like this. The CARD board has no imagination beyond attaching our homes, for a center the consultant reports will probably be used by less than 15 percent of our town.

When North Valley Hockey came to the city of Chico and the CARD board to ask for such a center as they have since built in Hamilton City,  they were turned away. CARD told them it would be too much competition for Cal Skate, which does not even have a proper hockey rink. Trying to schedule all the groups who wanted to use Cal Skate was getting difficult as well.  I have also sat in conversations with groups like Skatepark Solutions and the group who built the pump track – both were told they must do significant fundraising on their own. You can see on old agendas, CARD has not maintained the skate park properly for a couple of years now – Tom Lando and Michael Worley have both said the community needs to show more support for that facility. The aquatic center people have been given inappropriate  favoritism, anybody with eyes can see that.

Ann Willman, CARD director, has made no bones about her kid being on the swim team.  That’s the kind of ego-centric leadership we have at CARD.  They act as though the aquatic center is a done deal, they just have to figure out a way to put the cost onto the taxpayers, like a booger.

Another thing I notice, this facility in Santa Rosa does not include a swimming pool. Why not? Because, let’s face it, nobody wants to use indoor pools. They’re skanky. In California we swim outside, that’s a no-brainer except for pussies who need heated water. 

Read below, and let us know what you think.

$18 million sports, entertainment complex breaks ground in Santa Rosa

by Bill Swindell
The project, dubbed Epicenter by its developers, will transform an old wine warehouse on Coffey Lane into a 130,000-square-foot destination for athletes and gamers of all stripes. Developers said it will include three indoor soccer fields, a fitness club, bowling center, laser tag, trampoline playground and a sports bar with a 50-foot video wall.

“It’s one of the few sports and entertainment facilities in the country. … There’s very few that are combined,” said Andrew Rowley, chief executive officer of Sports City, which will be the largest tenant at the complex.

“It’s got some panache to it,” Rowley said after a groundbreaking ceremony for the project Monday.

Rowley’s company will operate the three soccer fields and one basketball/multipurpose court, which are slated to open in April. The new fields will be used as well for other sports such as lacrosse — which is growing in popularity — flag football and volleyball.

“Both our youth and adult leagues and children’s programs continue to grow so having additional indoor field and court space is great for the community, but the real benefits of the additional space is that it allows us to provide better league game times,” Rowley said.

While the soccer and other sports leagues will be a big attraction, Epicenter will house a cluster of businesses expected to draw an estimated 1 million visitors a year, including repeat customers, said Joe Lourdeaux, vice president of the company, which is made up of local investors. All tenants should be moved in by next summer.

The only similar facility in Northern California is the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose, though that does not have the range of entertainment options as the one planned for Santa Rosa.

The goal is to have “cross pollination” among customers so they will visit different areas, Lourdeaux said.

For example, a mother may want to drop her children off at Rockin’ Jump, a trampoline playground, while she exercises at the Anytime Fitness sports club. An adult soccer team finishing its game might want to go to the Victory House restaurant and sports lounge for post-game beers. The latter facility will have a 50-foot video wall and more than 75 flat-screen televisions for sports viewing for events such as the World Cup and NFL games.

More than 300 parking spaces will be allocated for the project, which will also include a pizzeria and a Starbucks, Lourdeaux said.

“We will make this fun for everyone,” said Lourdeaux, who also serves on the board of directors for the Edgewood Cos., a Lake Tahoe development company. His father, Wally, was an investor at the marina at Lake Sonoma.

“We want to put the family back into family entertainment; to build a place where you can have your kid’s birthday party, your own retirement party, date night, bring your kids during the day and your co-workers during the night,” he added.

The developers purchased the warehouse from Woodstock Properties, an affiliate of the Charles M. Schulz family. Woodstock was extremely helpful in helping to get the project off the ground, Lourdeaux said.

“They graciously held on to this (property) for almost a year until we got everything in place,” Lourdeaux said. Jean Schulz, the widow of cartoonist Charles Schulz, is an investor in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.
The building, constructed in the 1960s, used to be wine storage facility. The remodeled facility will have solar panels, LED lighting, energy efficient mechanical systems and a natural cooling system.

 Other tenants will include a retail sports shop; a facility to house parties, meetings and banquet rooms; and an upscale bowling center that will house 12 lanes with an additional VIP suite with four lanes that can be rented for parties and events.

There will an area for high-tech games, including a theater motion ride utilizing similar technology to the popular Star Tours ride at Disneyland.

When fully opened, Epicenter and its tenants will employ over 250 people, the developers said. AXIA Architects and Wright Contracting are leading the design and construction teams, while Bank of America is the financing partner for the project.

 The project will allow Sports City to expand from its current pair of soccer facilities, one off Piner Road in Santa Rosa and the other outside Cotati off Stony Point Road.

The Cotati site will remain in operation going forward while the Piner Road one will close. The latter suffered with a lack of parking and showers as well as not being climate controlled, which can be difficult for summer league players in the sweltering heat.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or On Twitter @BillSwindell.

2 Responses to “Story about sports complex built in Santa Rosa with private money – $18 million, self supporting”

  1. Jim December 26, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    Santa Rosa is almost twice the size of Chico, with an average household income of about double what it is here.

    • Juanita Sumner December 26, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

      Yeah, there’s the other problem – I don’t even think Chico could support a privately funded endeavor like this, much less a tax-supported project. Even if some private group came forward to pay for it, I don’t think there are enough people in Chico with good enough income to keep it up and running. I think we will need better jobs here to support any kind of facility, whether it is paid for privately or out of the public chest.

      I found this article when I was checking into SBtv, the Santa Rosa station that runs on broadcast tv, channel 11-8. It’s a locally owned, locally run station, something I also wish we could have here, but I don’t know if the public could support it. There are some downsides to living in a small town, but mostly stuff we can live without anyway.

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