The Fife City Council will review findings from a preliminary feasibility study on a proposed sports complex at its meeting Tuesday night.
The study is a compilation of data gathered in April, when executives from the California-based company Sportsplex USA visited Fife and surrounding cities to gauge the market for a multi-use sports facility in the Interstate 5 corridor.
The city authorized the $7,500 review as a first step before deciding whether to move forward with a full feasibility study, which would cost an additional $37,500.
Should the city decide to complete a full study, one funding source could be applying for use of lodging tax money, City Councilman Glenn Hull said Monday. He said that process, which is overseen by a committee, begins later this month.
After analyzing the local market, Sportsplex President Bill Berghoff and Vice President Sean Melvin said in the report that Fife could likely thrive in the sports tourism market.
“Following our preliminary market assessment of the greater Seattle-Tacoma region, Sportsplex USA feels that a sports complex would be successful. This assessment is based on the analysis of current demographics, freeway access to the potential sites, and airport proximity. … Sportsplex USA recommends a full and comprehensive feasibility study to further validate our initial conclusion.”
Hull has said that Fife attracts a lot of visitors to the city’s hotels who spend money at major attractions in Tacoma and other surrounding cities. A sports complex could change that, he said, providing a new attraction within the city limits and generating economic activity.
The proposed facility is conceptual with little known about cost, location or other details. Early plans outlined a complex with multiple softball and soccer fields, batting cages and an on-site restaurant.
The preliminary report was meant to identify Fife’s likelihood of success as a destination for sports tourism before conducting the more costly feasibility study.
The effort to bring a sports facility to Fife isn’t new. The city spent about six years trying to build a soccer complex, which fell short in 2006 when youth soccer partners failed to raise their share of the $15 million cost. After exhausting its options, the city eventually sold the 54-acre parcel.
As part of the revived effort, Berghoff and Melvin visited 12 existing facilities in the region during their April visit, which ranged from the Regional Athletic Center in Lacey to Starfire Sports in Tukwila.
They “identified major potential concerns” with the parks and their amenities, according to the report, and suggested in preliminary plans that Fife could fill those gaps with its proposed facility.
Additionally, Sportsplex officials and the Fife-Milton-Edgewood Chamber of Commerce hosted a stakeholder meeting, which included economic development groups, regional businesses and organizations, and officials from the city and Pierce County.
That meeting “concluded that there is strong support from the community and its leadership” for a multi-use sports complex in Fife.
The study also pinpointed four potential sites that could support the proposed plans. However, all of them are conceptual and only one is a city-owned parcel — located at 48th Street East. Also, most of the sites are located near residential areas and present possible noise challenges.
Another challenge outlined in the report is annual rainfall. If Fife decides to pursue a complex, Sportsplex recommended the city consider use of synthetic turf for all playing surfaces to maximize days of operation.
The study also listed risks and benefits if the city were to pursue a facility. Financial risks include the inability to cover the construction cost — estimated to be between $15 million and $20 million — and the potential of revenue shortfalls.
Financial benefits, according to the report, include possible “cost-avoidance” if a private company leases the city-owned complex and increased economic activity.
The Fife City Council will review the report and ask questions at its meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. It is unlikely action will be taken.
If a full feasibility study it requested, Sportsplex will complete a more comprehensive review of the local market. That study would include sports participation trends, a detailed marketing plan, detailed revenue and expense analysis and projected constructions costs.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
Follow Kari on Twitter: @KariPlog