In a bid to bring a sports/water park to the county, the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board on Wednesday approved the launch of a feasibility study process.
“The study will help with the location and help show the regional catchment area and the revenue that can be brought in,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, a member of the Capital Improvement Council.
The study would cost between $50,000 and $60,000 with a 2-to-1 match from the $20 million Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) funds distributed to the ‘Wabash River Regional Development Authority.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp., which oversees final approval of those funds, has approved $50,000 for the study, Bennett told the board.
“The whole (feasibility) project would not exceed US$150,000, but usually a consultant for a study like this costs between US$50,000 and US$60,000. If it costs that, the (READI grant) will pay and we (the CIB) will pay part of it,” the mayor said.
The idea is to build a sports and aquatic complex, probably on the east side of Terre Haute.
“It would be baseball, softball, and a small stadium for The Rex, but would also be used for tournaments and other baseball stuff,” the mayor said. “They (The Rex) would bring private money to the table to help fund that part, but use local money to build the rest.
“Maybe we use the EDIT (Economic Development Income Tax) or the casino money and we would help fund the projects and then the operation (of the sports complex) would be covered by the food tax and drinks,” Bennett said.
The resort would probably be on the east side of Terre Haute” because that’s where the land is because we want it to be close to the freeway (I-70) for people to access, not only locally, but regionally which is important,” said the mayor. “The feasibility study will help determine that (location),” he said.
“We want it to be easy to get to and have plenty of room to grow. We’re not trying to compete with Westfield’s Grand Park (sports complex), we just want a smaller version of this in our community,” Bennett said. “Terre Haute travel teams have to go all over Indiana and rarely play at home because we don’t have those facilities here to host those big tournaments.”
The Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield is a 400-acre park that includes 26 baseball and softball diamonds; 31 multipurpose fields for soccer, football and lacrosse; and three indoor facilities.
The CIB has approved RJL Solutions to market and publish a request for proposal (RFP) for the feasibility study. The CIB should first vote to approve the RFP, then vote to approve a consultant to conduct a study.
“It’s similar to what we did for the convention centre. We did two different feasibility studies which told us the market and the expected revenue. Once we’ve done that, we can then decide whether it’s makes sense moving forward, Terre Haute and Vigo County support this stuff.
“If not, we’ll quit. If so, then we’ll move on,” Bennett said.
According to the proposal approved by the CIB, the proposed schedule is:
• Oct. 31 — Deadline for requests for proposals.
• November — CIB’s New Projects Committee reviews proposals and conducts interviews.
• November — CIB votes to award RFP.
• December to February — the consultant conducts a feasibility study.
• February — The CIB reviews the completed study and shares it publicly.
In an unrelated post, Bernice Helman was sworn in as the new board member, replacing Steve Witt, who stepped down in April. Helman and Witt, are appointments to Bennett’s board of directors in his role as mayor of Terre Haute.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @TribStarHoward.