CVB OKs study of sports needs

The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau has approved a $12,500 contract with Pinnacle Indoor Sports of Louisville for a study of the community’s needs for sports facilities.

Norm Gill, a partner in the 18-year-old firm, will have results ready by the board’s April meeting, Mark Calitri, CVB president, told his board on Tuesday.

“We are at a critical point,” he said. “Our challenge is to be able to fill more hotel rooms with two more hotels opening this year and another on the way.”

A 63-room Best Western on Goetz Drive is well underway and a TownePlace Suites, with roughly 100 rooms, is under construction in Gateway Commons.

And Jack Wells and Matt Hayden have announced plans to build a still-unnamed hotel with 110 to 120 rooms across Second Street from the Owensboro Convention Center.

Work on that hotel should start late this year or early next year, Wells said earlier.

“We have to create more reasons for people to come to Owensboro,” Calitri told his board. “We need to take a serious look at a sports study to bring together the city, county and schools. We need to find out if we need a large multi-purpose sports facility and whether we need to develop more fields at Fisher Park.”

The Next Level, a privately owned indoor sports facility at 105 Carlton Drive, brought a lot of tournaments to town in the past six years.

But it closed suddenly last month.

Calitri said, “We’re not going to steer the study in any direction. We want good, honest feedback. If there’s no demand, we’ll walk away from this. We’re looking at everything indoors and outdoors but aquatics. It’s a leap of faith.”

The study will look at the needs of such sports as basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey, flag football, futsal, gymnastics, cheerleading and wrestling.

Pinnacle’s website says the company conducts an average of 12 such studies a year.

Fiscal Court gives $1,000

Daviess Fiscal Court is contributing $1,000 toward the study, Calitri said.

The CVB decided not to ask other agencies to contribute.

“It would be good for us to be the one who does the study,” Ruth Ann Dearness, board chairwoman, said at the meeting.

That will ensure that no one tries to shape the results, she said.

“We have to look at what we have and what we need,” Dearness said.

In 2001, the community began a similar study.

Ideas then included a $9.75-million recreation complex featuring a walking track, indoor soccer and an ice skating rink that could be converted to in-line skating during the spring and summer; a $5 million family water park with slides and moving water, and an outdoor soccer complex with at least 10 fields.

In 2003, 45 Owensboro leaders toured three recreation complexes in the St. Louis area for ideas for a “rec-plex” here.

A study was commissioned, but nothing ever happened — largely because the cost had risen to between $18 million and $20 million.

The $6 million Edge Ice Center was built, however, as a result of that effort.

Eventually, the rec-plex idea was dropped when planning for the Owensboro Convention Center began.

At the time, the thinking was that the convention center would host more sporting events.

Article written by Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, [email protected]