Need for more sports facilities to be discussed

Norm Gill, a partner in Pinnacle Indoor Sports of Louisville, is scheduled to be in Owensboro next week, meeting with local sports organizations to discuss the community’s needs for sports facilities.

In February, the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau approved a $12,500 contract with Pinnacle to determine what, if any, new facilities the community needs.

If there are recommendations for new facilities, Mark Calitri, CVB president, said earlier this week, they would likely be built by private developers.

“The days of going to the city and county for $10 million to $15 million are over,” he told his board on Tuesday.

A developer in Nashville, Calitri said, is interested in the results of the study.

He said he expects the study to recommend some type of facility.

But, Calitri said, “We’re neutral on this. He’s talking to all groups, and we’ll get a report on his recommendations.”

Jared Bratcher, the CVB’s sports marketing director, said earlier that he and Calitri compiled a comprehensive list of the groups Gill should talk to about their needs.

In February, Calitri told his board, “We are at a critical point. Our challenge is to be able to fill more hotel rooms with two more hotels opening this year and another on the way.”

“We have to create more reasons for people to come to Owensboro,” he said. “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 multipurpose sports facility and whether we need to develop more fields at Fisher Park.”

Calitri said this week that the Best Western on Goetz Drive near Towne Square North is scheduled to open in June.

And the TownePlace Suites in Gateway Commons is slated to open in December or January.

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, he said.

Matthew McCloud, general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront, said local hotel revenues are flat this year.

But, he said, “flat is good,” when compared with areas where revenues are declining.

“It’s cyclical,” Ruth Ann Dearness, the CVB’s board chairwoman, said of the hotel business.

Owensboro hotels used to get overflow from Evansville, she said, but Evansville has built more quality hotel rooms in the past couple of years.

And, Dearness said, state conventions rotate to Owensboro every three or four years.

Tim Ross, the city’s public events director, said the number of conventions already scheduled “are much stronger” for the next three years than they have been this year.

Larry Kirk, board treasurer, and Dearness are rotating off the board in June.

Kirk told the remaining board members that he envies them the chance to make decisions on new sports facilities.

“Very few times in life do you get the chance to shape history,” he said. “You’re a player in our history.”

The past few years with downtown redevelopment have been an historic time, Kirk said.

“With the changes the city is making, it’s a huge responsibility,” he said.

Kyle Aud was elected chairman of the CVB; Ross, vice chairman; and Taylor Deveaux. treasurer.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, [email protected]