The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.

 

Published December 26, 2018

Youth soccer complex could be coming to lake area


LAKE OF THE OZARKS – Could the lake area support a youth tournament soccer complex? The answer, according to XO Strategic is yes.

A presentation was given to the Camdenton Board of Aldermen last week by XO Strategic. Their written report explained why they were brought in to see if the project is feasible.

“Lake Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) commissioned and received two reports from Convention Sports & Leisure in January and April of 2016 that outlined the feasibility of a destination athletic facility (that included both soccer and baseball) at the Lake of the Ozarks. Those reports concluded that an athletic complex was feasible at the Lake.

“In the Fall of 2016, XO Strategic was first approached by the CVB in an effort to take the concept of a destination tournament soccer facility and determine: 1) would such a complex achieve the desired goals of new visitors to the Lake and generate room-nights in the existing Lake-area hospitality facilities? 2) would a soccer tournament complex at the Lake be viable and self-sustaining, and if so, when? 3) how would the complex be financed, developed, operated, and scheduled?”

The 40-page report outlines their reasoning behind their decision and ways to fund the complex. Though the idea was for baseball and soccer, XO Strategic only examined the soccer portion.

“Soccer complexes of varying sizes have been built throughout the country, primarily in cities without the entertainment amenities that the Lake offers but closer to a concentration of youth soccer players. For example, Kansas City features four synthetic soccer complexes…The majority of the play on these urban soccer complexes is focused on league play on the weekends and weekday practice, with tournaments scattered throughout the season. However, in order to maximize visitors to the Lake, the proposed soccer complex at the Lake will be primarily utilized for tournaments during the ‘shoulder’ seasons at the Lake – during the Spring and the Fall,” the XO Strategic report stated.

That conclusion was put into place due to the large amount of tourism that hits the lake area during the summer months but drops off in the spring and fall of the year.

The soccer complex – if it becomes a reality – would bring tourists to the lake area during the spring and fall of the year when the tournaments are held.

These tournaments, according to XO Strategic, are guaranteed to bring income to the lake.

“Youth soccer tournament operators require a ‘stay and play’ registration system, whereby the tournament operator mandates the accommodation where the tournament participants stay. This is required because of the sheer volume of room-nights required for each weekend tournament, and the necessity to guarantee that all attendees have a place to stay…Traditionally, all hotels are invited to participate in the accommodation program for the tournaments. In the case of the Lake of the Ozarks, only accommodations current in lodging tax payments will be considered.”

They also suggested that if the lake area pursues this, then one major player has expressed interest in a soccer complex in this area.

“The foundation for a successful tournament soccer complex is an experienced operator with a history of success in soccer tournament management. Heartland Soccer Association has indicated their interest and willingness to operate the Lake TSC.

“Heartland has been in business for over 40 years and is the largest soccer tournament and league operator in the United States. Heartland is based in Overland Park, Kansas, yet routinely draws from 12-16 states for each tournament they operate. Heartland operates tournaments in Kansas City with over 400 teams per tournament, and has to turn away teams because of the lack of fields in the Kansas City market. Heartland’s executive director Shane Hackett, who contributed to this Project Plan, believes that the Lake market is perfectly positioned both geographically and from an amenity perspective to draw from Kansas City, St. Louis, Des Moines, Omaha, Wichita, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Northwest Arkansas, and western Illinois.”

According to XO Strategic, the soccer complex would bring in a large amount of people to area and their data is encouraging to the CVB.

“XO Strategic recommends the construction of an eight field synthetic complex. Based on the included pro forma, eight fields appears to be the proper size to balance initial construction cost and ongoing maintenance and long-term replacement expense with attraction of visitors and generation of room-nights for tournaments.

“As a result, a typical weekend soccer tournament at the Lake TSC will feature over 160 teams of all ages and both genders. Most teams will have a Friday afternoon/evening match or a match early Saturday morning, followed by at least two additional matches throughout Saturday and Sunday.

“The soccer season begins around mid-August and runs through the end of November in the Fall, moves indoors (either futsal or indoor soccer) in the winter, then moves back outside starting around March 1 and running through early June. Other than camps or clinics during the summer, organized soccer takes a break during June and July.

“XO has built the operating plan for the Lake TSC to begin with 14 tournaments per year, and scale up to 26 soccer tournament weekends per year, 13 in the Spring and 13 in the Fall. Even at 14 tournaments per year on the low end, the TSC can be expected to attract over 270,000 non-unique visitors per year and generate over 70,000 new room-nights. At peak capacity in a stabilized year eight, the TSC should be able to bring in over half a million non-unique visitors per year, and generate over 145,000 room nights annually,” the report said.

They also outlined 11 specific steps that would be needed to bring it from an idea to a reality.

1. Assemble Advisory Board - XO recommends immediately appointing an independent Advisory Board to oversee tasks 2 and 3 of the TSC development below, the issuance of an RFP for site selection, and final site selection. The ideal start date for this is January 1, 2019
2. Issue Site RFP - The Advisory Board shall issue an RFP for site selection. The RFP shall be widely advertised to attract as many submissions as possible. In addition, all potential sites studied in this Analysis & Plan shall be contacted and encouraged to submit a proposal. Ideal Start Date: February 1, 2019.
3. Site Selection - The Advisory Board shall evaluate the RFP responses and select a final project site. The location of the site will likely determine the TSC ownership, as well as final financing and/or bonding capabilities. Ideal Start Date: March 1, 2019
4. Appoint a Sports Commission - Once the final site has been selected, the host municipality will be known. At this point, XO recommends appointing a Lake Sports Authority (the LSA) to oversee the remainder of the steps and to represent or serve as the TSC ownership entity and most importantly, the LSA shall serve as community champions for the project, building a consensus amongst voters, amongst local government entities, and within the Lake business community. Ideal Start Date: April 1, 2019
5. Site Acquisition - The LSA Board shall negotiate the final land acquisition of the project site. Ideal Start Date: May 1, 2019
6. Secure Lead Corporate Partner(s) - Early corporate support will be crucial to building support for the TSC. Immediately upon site finalization, the LSA shall begin the process securing a naming rights partner and ideally, several founding partners. Ideal Start Date: May 1, 2019
7. Issue RFP for TSC Operator - Ideal Start Date: May 1, 2019
8. Finalize Financing Plan - the LSA shall also work to finalize the financing plan that will be the backbone of the campaign and election that follows. Ideal Start Date: May 1, 2019
9. Campaign & Election - The previous steps are necessary to address the major questions about the TSC in order to set the stage for a successful election result. Upon the launch of the campaign, the site location and ownership will be known, the project cost will have been identified, the TSC Operator will have been selected, and the proposed financing plan will be determined. The LSA can expect the campaign to require substantial fundraising. Ideally a target election shall be November of 2019.
10. Design - Upon a successful election result, the LSA shall select a qualified team to provide architectural and engineering services to design the TSC. This step could take up to nine months depending on the design of the complex and the site characteristics, which would impact construction costs.
11. Construction - Once the design is completed, the LSA shall select a qualified contractor to build the TSC. One the contractor is chosen it could take up to 12 months to build the TSC.

XO Strategic estimates that based on recent similar projects, the cost may come in at a range of $20-$22 million construction cost for the basic program on a flat site. This does not include any significant site grading or rock removal on a hilly site. It also does not account for any significant utility line extensions to the site. These costs cannot be estimated until a site is selected.”

A representative from the CVB was at the Camdenton meeting last week and stated that the CVB has already agreed to proceed with step one of the project.

The entire report from XO strategic is available online at the Camdenton city website at
www.camdentoncity.com

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