Archive for Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lawrence not alone in considering regional recreation center, researcher says

February 17, 2013


Lawrence is thinking big, and it is not alone.

Bill Beckner, a research manager for the National Recreation and Park Association, spends his time trying to help people understand trends in the recreation industry.

These days, one is easy to spot: Extra-large regional recreation centers, like the $25 million, 181,000-square-foot center Lawrence is contemplating.

“They can be a really good deal,” Beckner said, if the centers can provide a healthy lifestyle for residents and attract people to a community.

But Beckner said communities that are hoping to attract a number of large tournaments and events will have to work hard to do it. “It is a very competitive business to be in,” he said.

Lawrence officials are counting on about 32 events a year to use its proposed regional recreation center. Lawrence's basketball history and Kansas University’s success in the sport are expected to help attract tournaments and other events that would help pay for the operating costs of the center.

City officials commissioned a study that estimated the indoor center could generate about $7.6 million a year in spending in the local economy, if it attracts the projected number of events.

Beckner said Lawrence’s 32-event figure isn’t out of the question. “They might be able to do that,” he said. “But they had better be hooked up with the convention and visitors bureau in a real strong way.”

City Manager David Corliss said the city envisions a joint effort between the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau to book tournaments and other sporting events at the center.

Beckner said many communities are looking at the potential to build recreation facilities that not only serve their residents but also work as an economic development tool. He said he has been working with officials of a Minnesota town of 30,000 people that is contemplating a facility of 145,000 square feet.

A private development group in Wichita is moving forward on a 65,000-square-foot, 12-gym facility that it anticipates will attract regional and national tournaments. The center, which is applying for STAR bond financing from the state, would be attached to a hotel, water park and major retail development.

Beckner, who wasn’t aware of the plans in Lawrence, said all the activity makes for an interesting time in the industry. He said there are sure to be winners and losers in the latest trend.

“I have done a lot of feasibility studies on that stuff,” Beckner said. “You have to be real serious to make it work. Every event out there is contested at this point, and by several groups. And there is not a lot of money in it to begin with. You have to have the hotel and restaurant space to make it work.”


Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

" And there is not a lot of money in it to begin with. You have to have the hotel and restaurant space to make it work.”

This spells millions of tax $$$$$$$$ of local corporate welfare in order for motel/hotel owners to make money. Motels/hotels will be mostly empty 5 days a week and sometimes 7 days a week in Lawrence,Kansas.


Budgets_Smudgets 1 year, 2 months ago

There are actually THREE different proposals around Wichita for similar centers (two in addition to the one identified in the article.)


Phil Minkin 1 year, 2 months ago

These rec centers are like the outlet malls of several years ago. When they first appeared they were very popular and did quite well. Then the sprang up like mushrooms after a rain, and lost their unique quality, hence the 2 failures in Lawrence and others across the country. We're in the process of building a future white elephant. Let's stick to a very good community rec center near Free State .


msezdsit 1 year, 2 months ago

"City officials commissioned a study"

Thats like your mother commissioning a study on you, guess how that comes out.


melott 1 year, 2 months ago

This article and others like it make it clear that this project is not designed as a place for people to go and get some exercise. It is an entertainment facility, like the high school football fields, and it is designed to make money for developers, hotel and restaurant owners, etc.


COjayrocks 1 year, 2 months ago

All opinions are welcomed but think its time for a different opinion to be added to the comments section of the LJWorld. I think what really would give this project legs is the one thing the city has to offer that none of these other competing towns do: KU. KU has hosted the Jayhawk Invitational for many years, and did so in town for many years until the tournament outgrew Lawrence's facilities. Teams were playing in every gym around town along with Haskell and Eudora. Lawrence couldn't support it so it had to move. Why move it out of town? Now that the gym space will be available it will come back to its rightful place in Lawrence along with many others to follow. This is why people are betting on this project to succeed because the precedent is already there.

But the biggest reasons tournaments like these will always come to Lawrence is the basketball tradition. People love to see the St Andrews of modern basketball, Allen Fieldhouse. They. Want to see Naismiths grave. They will want to see the original rules of basket ball (now that they are in town) and they will want to explore the booth hall of athletics. Now, kids will want to compete here. Some of the best players in the country compete in the Jayhawk invitational but now the tournament was moved to kc so those players aren't exploring Lawrence or spending their money here anymore. Volleyball, soccer, girls basketball will follow and people will fall I love with this community for the same reasons we all did.


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 2 months ago

Too bad that KUs Rock Chalk Park cannot be on the tax rolls! Feel the pain!


P76 1 year, 2 months ago

Obama has printed trillions for his central bank cronies. Why doesn't he print a few trillion for the rest of us? Why are there any taxes at all when he can print all he wants?


pace 1 year, 2 months ago

What a waste of money and focus.


Clint Church 1 year, 2 months ago

It is amazing that we are in a recession and everyone is spending money on these things. If they want to spend money, there are many other things to spend it on.


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