Paradise Coast Sports Complex has been thrown a curveball in its debut season. But Sports Force Parks, which operates the facility in Collier County, Florida, appears to have its bases covered to ensure a bright future.
“Luckily most of the CDC and government suggested guidelines were already part of our best practices for operating a sports park,” says Sports Force Parks President and CEO Brian Storm.
While a July 4 grand opening celebration was canceled and some tournaments have been affected, “we’re moving forward as scheduled,” Storm adds.
He has no choice, as do the many other facility operators looking to make their opening pitch in 2020.
Youth tournaments and events are happening across much of the country, but numbers are down due to health and economic challenges. Storm has seen this firsthand at some of Sports Force Parks’ other sites like Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center and Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi.
More encouraging to Storm are the comments he hears from the guests on-site. They are ready to play ball—and Paradise Coast Sports Complex will be waiting.
More Than the Ballgames
Collier County gave final approval for the mammoth $80 million facility in 2019. The project had a fast start, to the point that phase one, including four synthetic fields, are open. Weekend tournaments are happening and local residents are able to use the site during the week.
In that regard, Paradise Coast Sports Complex is already living up to its purpose as being the centerpiece of a countywide effort to develop elite fields and athletic programs in Southwest Florida.
Some of the economic impact—hotel room nights, out-of-town travel, etc.—is on hold. Yet Storm believes sites built to host youth sports will not only rebound next year but will become more valued tourism assets.
“I do believe in the current climate, sports events and venues like Paradise Coast Sports Complex are going to become more tourist destinations,” he says. “Less disposable income will equal fewer trips, but for a longer duration to a unique location. These trips will become multipurpose where kids can play sports while the family vacations.”
Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, the three communities making up Paradise Coast, are certainly counting on that.
One look at the schematics at Paradise Coast Sports Complex makes it obvious the site is much more than a collection of fields. In addition to the 21 diamonds and rectangular playing spaces, including a 3,500-seat stadium, the facility is meant to be a gathering place.
A fitness pavilion, The Factory, will include outdoor fitness equipment, an open-air classroom, a fitness court and a 1-mile trail.
Entertainment will be provided at The Cove—a food truck and bar pavilion—and on the Great Lawn, which can host concerts, festivals and movie nights.
“Collier County had a great vision for this project. It’s built with something for everyone,” says Storm.
The extra amenities will entice families, but sports remain the key component to driving business. Even with the pandemic, the event’s lineup is impressive.
Football University announced a partnership that is scheduled to bring six events by 2021’s end. They include FBU National Championships, FBU’s Top Gun and four new events. Collier County already hosted the championships but Top Gun, a premier gathering of the country’s best high school football players, is relocating from Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“We believe that the Paradise Coast Sports Complex will be an unparalleled first-class experience for families and athletes of all ages. This is the one-stop-shop sports complex of the future and we are proud to be a part of it,” says Football University President Steve Quinn.
No less than 10 other tournaments scheduled between September and January 2021 are listed on the complex’s website. Baseball, lacrosse and soccer are represented, demonstrating the facility’s wide base.
Perhaps of greater importance on the calendar will be progress on additional fields and resources. Phase two, highlighted by the 3,500-seat stadium, is scheduled to come online by March. Completion of phase three, including five fields, is targeted by the end of next year. The final phase, composed mostly of baseball and softball components, should be done by early 2022.
Despite the pandemic, Paradise Coast Sports Complex will be ready as tournaments regain some foothold of normalcy.
“We are constantly speaking with our guests and believe there is still a demand for opportunities for kids to come out and play,” says Storm. “Youth sports is set to rebound.”
Photo Credit: Sports Force Parks