Pictured above is the master plan for the proposed Etowah County Mega Sports Complex.
The Etowah County Mega Sports Complex Authority held a public input meeting on Wednesday, May 24, at the Gadsden City High School Auditorium, with approximately 120 citizens attending the event.
Authority Chairman Ralph Burke indicated that he was pleased with the meeting overall.
“I think we had a good representation in attendance and what we presented was well received,” he said.
Burke explained that the authority’s present re-venue stream was only en-ough for a bond issue of between $6 and $8 million dollars. Funds come from a portion of a 1-percent sales tax, lodging tax and Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu of tax.
“This gives the authority around $480,000 per year at this time,” Burke added.
said State Rep. Craig Ford, who sponsored legislation creating the authority, “The best plan would be to get our revenue settled at around $1.3 to $1.4 million dollars annually and get the complex built so we can begin to have the economic benefit and the recreational activities soo-ner rather than later.
“Now we can buy land, sit on it, let revenue build back up, clear the land, sit on it, you get the picture. I’m ready to move on.”
John Chambless with Chambless-King Architects, who have been retained by the authority, said that the complex would cost between $22 and $30 million dollars to complete.
“That’s without the aqua center, water park facility,” he added.
State Representatives Becky Nordgren and Mack Butler, along with Ford, indicated that they preferred to see sports enthusiasts coming to Etowah County and spending money and staying in area hotels as opposed to local residents packing up and heading to another city for a weekend of tournaments.
David Lockridge, who organizes baseball tournaments, Kerry Tucker, a soccer parent, and Chad Hare, who schedules youth league soccer tournaments, all spoke in support of the complex, as well as GCHS head track and field coach and authority members Ali Smith. There were no negative comments among the other members of the public who spoke.
Authority members gave attendees who did not take the opportunity to speak publicly a survey card so that everyone could have input. Burke noted hat the responses would be tabulated and used in the development of the facility.
Authority Chair Burke said that the site’s location was yet to be determined.
“Geographically-speaking, Etowah County is the smallest county in Alabama. Finding appropriate property for this project is a challenge.”