Four more soccer fields will be coming to Paradise Coast Sports Complex by the end of the year upon completion of Phase 2.1 of the facility.
The sports complex, alternatively known as the Collier County Sports Complex, was approved in 2019 by the county. With Phase 2 originally projected to be completed last year, factors such as COVID-19 and inflation cause the timeline of the sports complex project to fall behind schedule. This current phase, modified Phase 2.1, involves implementing water management lakes and extension of City Gate Boulevard besides the four additional fields.
At the last Collier County Commission meeting, Manhattan Construction Group, who is contracted for finishing Phase 2.1, was given a completion deadline of Dec. 30. Staff at Paradise Coast would like the fields to be completed before December to be played on for the FBU National Football Championship. Phase 2.1 is at 70% completion, and the contract with Manhattan Construction may be terminated if not completed by the deadline. Manhattan is not contracted for any future phases of the project.
“This has not been a careless exercise of the sports park,” County Commissioner Penny Taylor said at the last board meeting. “The sports park, like so much that went through this COVID time, became a situation where things happen and there was a ripple effect with it.”
The sports park has had a few rough patches in keeping up with its proposed timeline. In 2019, the management company Sports Force Parks was hired to manage the facility. During the pandemic, which caused a halt in production, the owner of the management passed away, causing further delays. Last November, the county awarded management of the park to Clearwater-based Sports Facilities Companies.
Interim Deputy County Manager Edward Finn provided the county commissioners with an update at the last board meeting on all the upcoming phases of the sports park project. Future stages are still subject to board approval and design plans may change.
Phase 3 of the project, which will involve building a ninth soccer field and a prefabricated steel shelter building, was originally part of Phase 2 but was created separately to expedite the completion of phase 2.1. The next step of this phase is to present a contract award to the board at a future meeting, with a projected start date to be early 2023.
Eleven multipurpose fields will be coming to Paradise Coast as part of the fourth phase. Five of these fields will be for softball, mini soccer and Little League while six fields will be used for baseball and soccer. Plans for Phase 3 also include a welcome center or marketplace. This phase has estimated construction costs of more than $25 million, with the next step being presenting a design contract and finance plan to the board.
The fifth and final phase of the sports complex is the construction of a 67,000-square-foot fieldhouse. With an estimated cost of $42 million, staff has sought funding through a community development block grant application of $14.3 million to allow hardening of the building for a hurricane shelter. Whether Paradise Coast has received this grant from the state has not yet been decided.
Commissioner William McDaniel had hoped to see construction of the fieldhouse to be more of a priority. “One of the things that sold me originally on this park was that fieldhouse,” McDaniel said. “That was an 80,000-square-foot indoor stadium on the inside of I-75. It was one of the initial phases and somehow during the process as this project unfolded, the fieldhouse got moved now to the end.”
Although appreciative of the staff update on the entirety of the sport complex, Commissioner Rick LoCastro wants to ensure focusing most on finishing the current phase of the project. “I’d say for me personally, because I’m not a huge fan of expending large amounts of more money for the sports complex, I would like to see it sort of be a bit more successful before we continue to get out way ahead of ourselves,” LoCastro said.
Taylor assures that taking the multimillion-dollar project slow and steady will be more beneficial in the long run. “My experience with having been here almost eight years, is that there is a very careful and measured way that we approach these large projects, understanding that they’re not done in a day or in a week or even a year,” Taylor said. “When you have costs rising sometimes over a year of 40% in construction costs, which is what we’re facing now, the more measured and deliberate we proceed the better it is.”