South Walton Sports Complex Update | Page 19 | SoWal Forum - South Walton Florida
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Jdarg

SoWal Expert
Feb 15, 2005
18,069
1,971

Great thread and it brought up a lot of great points that are valid today.

We need expanded rec facilities (ball fields, pool, tennis courts) for OUR community- adults and kids. Frank Brown Park has generated so much because they have the right setup over there- lots of lower cost hotel rooms, big box stores, lots of affordable family dining options (don't get me wrong- we have some affordable options- but nowhere near the numbers of rooms and restaurant seats needed for thousands of kids to come in town for a weekend). I have lots of friends who spends thousands a year on their kids' travel teams- out of town every weekend. But they will not blow the whole travel team season budget on an expensive rental and dining in South Walton- and these people have money. Teams stay together in the same hotels and condo complexes, families hang together, etc. Other than Miramar (and that will be pricy), where are they going to do that in SoWal? All the dollars will leave SoWal and go to the places that can provide what the tournament attendees need, like PCB- or are we planning on adding these types of lodging, commercial retail, and chain restaurants to SoWal? Yes, these tournaments pump hundreds of thousands into the local economy- but because it is large numbers of people spending smaller amounts per family than the average SoWal visitor.

Our local kids deserve a great place to play and practice sports and be ready to compete at out of town tournaments- and our focus should not be about bringing big tournaments here. At some point our community and local government needs to make this happen for OUR kids, not for a revenue builder that won't bring in the revenue that the supporters think it will because the rest the needs of a successful sports tournament (affordable lodging and dining) don't exist here. Our daughter plays 3 sports, but I live here because it is not Panama City Beach or a big tournament town. Why are we trying something new? Go back to the thing that brings people here- our natural beauty and the cultural aspect of our area.
 

marilu120

Beach Comber
May 16, 2013
10
2
Two workshops will be held for all interested parties next week on Thursday, May 23:

9am at the Coastal Branch Library
5pm in Commissioner Meadows conference room
 

sunspotbaby

SoWal Insider
Mar 31, 2006
5,017
733
Santa Rosa Beach
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Sporting events have become a priority for tourism officials in Panama City Beach.

The Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) recognized the impact sports brings to the destination Tuesday as members discussed the best way to utilize the more than $4 million the agency received as a final economic loss settlement with BP.http://www.newsherald.com/news/business/tdc-eyeing-new-sports-facilities-1.145445?tc=cr
 

Kurt Lischka

Admin
Staff member
Oct 15, 2004
12,457,772
4,552
SoWal
mooncreek.com
I am curious about affordable lodging and dining for the large numbers of families and teams that would be the target market for large tournaments. Will they all stay in PCB and drive over for their games? We don't have a budget travel infrastructure for huge groups in South Walton.

Just a note - last year at the TDC advisory council meeting this is the reason that the issue was quickly dismissed. The extensive study was brought up, it was mentioned that most visitors to sporting events stay 10 to a room and would likely stay in PCB and drive over if we had a facility. The whole discussion lasted about one minute.
Although I'm sure it had been discussed in prior meetings.
 

Jdarg

SoWal Expert
Feb 15, 2005
18,069
1,971
Just a note - last year at the TDC advisory council meeting this is the reason that the issue was quickly dismissed. The extensive study was brought up, it was mentioned that most visitors to sporting events stay 10 to a room and would likely stay in PCB and drive over if we had a facility. The whole discussion lasted about one minute.
Although I'm sure it had been discussed in prior meetings.

Exactly. But why can't we use some of the BP monies for a kickass facility for our community, and include a pool, tennis courts, skateboard park, and nature-related features to be used by both residents and visitors? It is very simple really- where do tourists play tennis or pool swim if they don't stay at a place with these amenities? Why does a sports complex facility idea always have to be tied to generating visitor revenue? Why can't we just have one because we are a community with a lot of families involved in sports and rec, like other "normal" communities? Sowal is generating the overwhelming largest percentage of the revenue for the entire county, and we still do not have some of the basic facilities that NoWal communities have- so at least let's find a way to use these monies for something decent for our families, and visitors being able to share it too is the icing on the cake.

Win/win- for us and our visitors. Why are we trying to fit a "round" SoWal into a "square" sports tournament-world peg? It would be awful to spend all this money on a facility and bringing tournaments here- and watch those people head for the county line every day to stay and spend in PCB.
 

mis wah

Beach Comber
Feb 27, 2010
18
4
I think that Sowal needs to decide what projects we want for our portion of the county & negotiate with commissioners to get them. When they introduce projects for Nowal we need to be at the table for funding some Sowal projects. We need to decide what they are & start exerting some influence instead of waiting for them to support Sowal. A sports complex, without the requisite revenue generation/heads-in-beds could be the start. We've got to pool the energy of Sowal, & actively lobby for the projects/improvements we want to see in our community. If we don't, we will be left behind to the power of Nowal.
 

Zebraspots

Beach Fanatic
May 15, 2008
840
247
Santa Rosa Beach
I completely disagree that we need this kind of thing here. We have no need to draw sports teams here and need to stop wasting money on large projects that are not in keeping with the beach lifestyle and experience that draws residents and visitors.

What we do need is to properly maintain our existing recreation and sports infrastructure and add more amenities for the community to use.

The multi-use path system is the second most important recreation resource we have (the beach and lakes being the first) and it is in horrible shape.

Why do we not have a public pool in Sowal?
 

GULFSOUTH Soccer

Beach Comber
Jan 4, 2012
26
8
I'll chime in with some first hand experience. We run a youth soccer organization based in South Walton that is considered travel/competitive soccer. We mostly conduct training at Helen McCall and sometimes at other locations...but rarely play games at Helen McCall and would not even consider hosting our own tournament here due to limited field space, inadequate infrastructure (parking, restrooms, etc) and relatively poor field conditions.

I agree that we do not need a mega-complex today with 20+ fields and the cost of lights/maintenance that come with it. However, a nice 20 acre park with all the things that have been mentioned already will do and suffice for small tournament play. Just don't place a park on 20 acres and be done. Purchase a large enough parcel and have a 15-20 year multi-phased plan to expand as our South Walton populations grows over time.

A few thoughts on youth tournaments. These are the main revenue generators for non-profit youth sport organizations. Hard to survive without fundraising or hosting tournaments...we'd prefer to host a tournament(kids playing soccer) than stand out on 393/30A with a bucket(kids not playing soccer). That makes sense, right?

I understand that we do not have short-term type accommodations and room numbers that might be needed for a large tournament but truthfully here is what an average soccer tournament looks like in the FL panhandle: 125 teams playing all day Sat and Sun. About 4k-5k people total in attendance. But of the 125 teams, on average 20-30 teams need hotel rooms. The others commute in and out with an hour or less drive.

So, good money gets pumped into the restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and such. But not really an over-burden on the hotel or condo rooms. Seems to be more like the amount of rooms needed for a several weddings over the course of a long weekend, which our area does pretty well with.

I am in constant communication with various local gov't and private entities about the need for more recreational space. We all just need to keep the momentum going, continue to provide constructive ideas and don't let ill-perceived issues get in the way.
 

marilu120

Beach Comber
May 16, 2013
10
2
Take a look at the Proposal: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7hn3ibzh8j4jghz/FV%20Proposal.docx?m

The goal is to bring in new markets with a different demographic than that of PCB: supporters and participants of lacrosse, sand volleyball, hiking and biking trails, a skateboard park, and an amphitheater. Sure, the focus is on bringing in tourists, but this will also be an incredible place for local families to enjoy.
 
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