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The LIVING Interview (continued) continued from page 60... a youth soccer program that had outgrown the facilities. Those soccer fields were going to cost us somewhere between twelve and thirteen million dollars, and the city would maintain ‘em, and while we do a great job of maintaining ‘em, they’re not maintained at a professional standard if you will. So, the owner of the Francisco Grande Hotel came in and said “We have this idea that we would like to run by you,” and it was to build the Grande Sports World complex. The actual agreement is about twelve inches thick, but the gist of the agreement is, the city would build the facility, and the Francisco Grande would maintain and operate it for us, and there is a pro- forma where, when it reached a certain income level, the city gets a percentage of those profits. So we were going to spend thirteen, let’s say, be conservative, we were going to spend twelve million dollars putting in a facility for youth sports anyway, and the other site we looked at was one called the Linden property, which is at the far north end of town, and, we were prepared to spend the money to go do that. The Grande Sports World came in, and said, “Well, if you build the, the, the soccer/football fields and put in a building for us, we’ll operate ‘em and maintain ‘em at no cost to the city. So if we were to build and maintain those soccer fields, we probably are looking at somewhere around three hundred thousand dollars a year. Then Grande Sports World came in, and said, “Well, if you build the soccer/ football fields and put in a building for us, we’ll operate them and maintain them at no cost to the city. It cost twelve million dollars to build the fields and another eight to build the building. All we really pay on that is the debt service on eight million dollars, and I’m not an accountant, but if I had to guess, I would guess that the percentage of the debt service we pay on the whole facility probably equates to about three hundred thousand dollars. So while you say it’s costing the city money, it really isn’t because we’ve avoided the maintenance cost of the fields, and if you’ve been out there, they’re maintained at a much higher level than we would ever hope to maintain them. And Grande Sports World has really put

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us on the soccer map. We’re not a soccer state, but, my God ... I don’t know if you’ve been out there, walked down the hall in the back ... I was out there with the Youth Commission, Saturday, and they have a tradition where all the kids that have been through their academy have a picture, where they’ve gone to college, or the pros because several of them had been drafted by the pros as soon as they came out of the program, and any award that they won while they were there. Last year, their under 16 team, I think was the National Champion at the level that they play at. GC LIVING: Mm-hmm (affirmative). MAYOR JACKSON: They bring in tournaments regularly during the soccer season, where we’ll have three to five thousand people in town. There’s a benefit to the city of Casa Grande and restaurants and lodging. Oh, and one of the big arguments about using the Grande versus the Linden property, you use the Linden property ... great access, right off the freeway. So if we have people from Phoenix or Tucson that are coming in or a tournament they’re going to pull off the freeway, go to the Linden property and never through town. By going out to the Francisco Grande, it forces people to drive through town, they see what the town has to offer and I think it’s been a huge benefit to the city, but it’s being painted by this brush of, “Well, we’re losing ten million dollars on the deal.” We’re not really losing ten million dollars on the deal. We had a pro forma that said over twenty years, we hope to make that much money, but the revenue stream hasn’t been there, and, and I know that’s a tough concept to understand for people, but we ended up with world-class soccer/football fields out there for our youth programs. I talked to Matt Lemberg yesterday, there’s seven hundred kids signed up for the soccer program. GC LIVING: So why don’t I hear that story on the front page of the newspaper? Why don’t I see your pretty face with a sound bite talking about that? MAYOR JACKSON: Well, because again, we have had multiple conversations with the media trying to, not only here, but also in Phoenix. I mean, you think about these, they’ve got about seventy kids in that program right now. They competed in the national finals game for the soccer at the high-

est USL soccer level there is in the country ... and we did not see a single thing about it in the Arizona Republic. We’ve tried when we have winter visitors here, we have had several of the major league soccer teams that come out there and train for a couple of weeks at a time, and one of the regular teams is the Seattle Sounders ... we get lots of winter visitors here from Seattle. Do you know how they find out what the practice schedule is? They get online, and they read the Seattle newspaper, and they find out that in Casa Grande, Arizona there’s a practice schedule for the Sounders if you’re down there. How sad is that? Most people have no idea major league soccer teams train out here. GC LIVING: Great. So since you brought that facility up that’s been criticized for a variety of different financial or location problems. The new police headquarters has been criticized for where it is. We’re now, as a city, looking at a new multi-generational recreational facility. This is your chance to make your statement on why that’s good for the city, and why it should be built. MAYOR JACKSON: Well, talk about both of those facilities and their locations because people tend to look at the city of Casa Grande, and they look at the urbanized area of Case Grande. The urbanized area is about a half of what the planning area is, and if you look at the planning area boundary, the police station is almost in the exact, dead center of the community, and for response times out of a police station, you want to be in the middle. The community center is a little different issue. Yeah, we knew we wanted to build one. We’ve looked at multiple sites. We looked at sites in the downtown area, but none of them we have been able to identify are big enough or are in the right location. And by saying that, I mean we looked, for instance, at Carr McNatt Park as a potential location for it ... not quite big enough. There’s too much going on there, and we’d have to take out too much of Carr McNatt Park to do it, and then you generate parking problems. You generate evening activity problems in the neighborhood every night. I mean, if you go by Carr McNatt Park now, there are people out there playing football and soccer, whatever, but they usually are done by 8:00, and it’s not every night, it’s

continued on page 74... THE THE LEADERSHIP LEADERSHIPEDITION EDITION

Profile for ROX Media Group

Golden Corridor Living Magazine  

Fall 2015

Golden Corridor Living Magazine  

Fall 2015