With a proposed sales-tax hike already on the November ballot, some City Council members thought Mesa would overplay its hand with voters if it requested a Mesa sports complex, too.
Mesa voters will not decide the fate of a $56 million state-of-the-art sports and tournament complex this year.
City Council members in late June declined to vote to put the measure on the November ballot after some argued the concept was promising but needed further vetting.
The proposal for the dual-stadium, indoor/outdoor facility near Brown Road and Loop 202 — with 24 fields, 8,000 seats and a 110,000-square-foot field house — had drawn mixed reactions since tourism organization Visit Mesa unveiled it in December.
With a proposed sales-tax hike already on the ballot, some City Council members thought Mesa voters might reject an additional ask. The sports-complex project alone would’ve required voters to OK three separate questions to pass.
“This is a great project, and I support it, but the timing wasn’t right,” Mayor John Giles told The Republic. “It’s my hope that this will be on the ballot the next time we do a parks bond (request), which may be as early as 2018.”
Councilman Kevin Thompson also called the concept a “great idea” that came at the “wrong time.”
Visit Mesa began pushing for the complex late last year after surveying more than 420 event coordinators in the U.S. and Canada.Field dimensions would have allowed for lacrosse, field hockey and rugby games in addition to soccer, the center’s anchor sport. The design also called for a press box, viewing towers and video technology to allow for live streaming.
The field house would’ve permitted Mesa to pursue indoor tournaments, with the space available for residents during summer months, and could have served as a meeting area for up to 9,000 people, according to Visit Mesa.
“Our budgets aren’t sustainable without imported visitor dollars,” Visit Mesa CEO Marc Garcia told the City Council during a June 2 study session. “For a city that’s so dependent on sales tax, we need to make smart investments in order to entice people. … (This project) is a place-maker.”
Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh, Councilman David Luna and Councilman Chris Glover at that study session indicated they would support a November vote.
Giles and Councilmen Thompson, Dave Richins and Alex Finter expressed reservations about moving forward with the project this year, requesting case studies of comparable projects and design feedback from residents.
When the council convened June 20 to determine what would appear on the November ballot, the sports complex wasn’t considered.
Garcia said Thursday he had no comment on the city’s decision to hold off on the complex, saying only that Visit Mesa is always “determined to elevate Mesa’s brand and to book more business into the destination.”
But Luna, whose district includes the proposed complex site, said he was “disappointed that the project didn’t move forward and that Mesa voters weren’t afforded an opportunity to weigh in.”
Because the city-owned property belonged to the federal Bureau of Land Management, Mesa is limited in terms of how it can develop the parcel. Any project must be devoted to recreational, not commercial, purposes.
According to a report by economic and real-estate consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack & Co., Mesa could make as much as $1.9 million per year through field-rental fees, concession sales and other revenue after covering the complex’s estimated $2.6 million in operating costs.
Debt payments probably would range from $4.5 million to $5 million. Additional revenue streams, such as a hotel bed-tax increase, would be needed to pay off the debt, according to the city.