Government

Study finds Prospect Meadows proposal feasible

The proposed location of Prospect Meadows Ball Fields along Highway 13 and County Home Road in an aerial photograph in Marion on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The proposed location of Prospect Meadows Ball Fields along Highway 13 and County Home Road in an aerial photograph in Marion on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — An independent third-party survey of Prospect Meadows has found the proposed 17-field baseball and softball complex in Linn County to be feasible and likely to succeed.

A Sports Facilities Advisory report of the Prospect Meadows Ball Fields proposal, requested earlier this year by the Linn County Board of Supervisors and presented last week to the board, found that concession sales and commitments from Perfect Game and Game Day USA make the project “feasible and demonstrates a strong likelihood for success.”

Dawn Jindrich, Linn County budget director, said the inclusion of Perfect Game, a baseball scouting service in Cedar Rapids, and event-management company Game Day USA of Naperville, Ill., played a critical role in Prospect Meadows’ projected success.

Officials last year said the two organizations had booked a collective 1,400 teams per year for the ball fields.

“What this facility has is Perfect Game and Gameday USA, and that makes a big difference, which makes them more likely to be prosperous,” Linn County Budget Director Dawn Jindrich said to the board last week.

The project — to be located at County Home Road and Highway 13, north of Marion — would be built in two phases. Phase 1 would include eight ball diamonds, a “Miracle Field” — a diamond with a rubberized surface and wheelchair-accessible dugouts so children with disabilities can play — and support buildings by 2019. Phase 2, planned for a 2023 completion date, includes another eight ball fields.

Jack Roeder, president of Prospect Meadows Inc., said last November the complex is intended to bring in teams from across the Midwest.

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“I think many people think this is just 17 ball fields,” Supervisor Brent Oleson said last week. “When this gets built and actually operational, I think people are going to be stunned.”

The Sports Facilities Advisory, which evaluated financial forecasts and visitors to Prospect Meadows, anticipate the facility would generate more than $325,000 per field in 2022 and around $300,000 per field in 2025.

Those projections land well above $180,000, which is identified in the report as the threshold for a top-performing field.

The report did note that Prospect Meadows’ projections of about $6 per person in food and drink vendor revenue was a little high. A typically industry standard for such sales falls closer to $2 to $3 per person, the report states.

Linn County Finance Director Steve Tucker said the report still came back very positive for the proposal.

“We were really encouraged by what we read here,” he said.

Linn County Supervisors could vote as soon as this week on about $1.57 million in general obligation urban renewal bonds toward the project.

Tucker said the goal is to have county funding issued by June 30.

Phase 1 is expected to cost about $13.6 million. Prospect Meadows officials last November said they had raised about $11 million.

In addition to Linn County, Marion has pledged $1.25 million and Cedar Rapids has expressed plans to award $1 million as long as the project increases business for Cedar Rapids hotels.

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Grant donors include the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Enhance Iowa board, Linn County Conservation Department and Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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