2009-01-28 / News

Commission approves new sports facility at Waterford Industrial Park

By Greg Pearson
STAFF WRITER

Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer Businessman Steve Burton looks over plans for a $100 million sports complex he plans to build near the end of the Powhite Parkway.
The Chesterfield Planning Commission gave Woodlake resident Steve Burton the green light last week for his 50-acre sports complex in the Waterford Industrial Park that backs up to the end of the Powhite Parkway. The Sportsquest property was already zoned appropriately, and the commission put no conditions on the approval of its schematic plan, which is unusual for the size of the project.

Approval allows the planning commission to "make working interpretations of any and all conditions and/or exceptions to the zoning application." In case Sportsquest needs modifi cations to its current approval, it wouldn't have to pay additional planning fees.

County Administrator Jay Stegmaier said Chesterfield will not be contributing financially to the project, saying Waterford is not located in an Enterprise Zone. "It has been fast-tracked [through zoning]," he said. When completed, the complex may create 500 jobs.

Developer Mark Sowers, who has adjacent property to the site off Genito Place, wants a connecting road to the complex, but Commission Chairman Russ Gulley balked. "This should be a private matter outside of the purview of this case," he said.

Burton said his group plans to start turning dirt at the site no later than March, so an ice rink can be ready for use by some European skaters en route to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver early next year. That would give some teams a chance to adjust after traveling across 7-10 time zones to the U.S. before flying on to Canada. "Our challenge is to have an ice rink open by then," said Burton.

The complex could provide facilities for around 20 different sports overseen by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the governing bodies of those sports. Burton has been courting Olympic officials for the past 18 months. "We're batting one thousand with them," he said, adding that he is looking for "everything from Olympic trials to national championships to world cup events. The quality of sports will be pretty thrilling."

Other first phase efforts include cycling and aquatics. In just three years, Burton hopes to have the entire complex completed for a variety of recreational sports and family entertainment with a dazzling array of new buildings expected to cost $100 million.

The cycling center will feature a velodrome, criterium track, triathlon course and inline skating. Burton is planning to host a cycling event at Southside Speedway in March.

The ice-plex will be for speed skating, hockey, figure skating and curling. The aquatics center will host events for swimming, water polo and synchronized swimming. The tennis multiplex will feature tennis (indoor and outdoor), badminton, racquetball, handball, squash and table tennis.

The multi-sport field house will be for volleyball, gymnastics, fencing and Olympic martial arts. A family entertainment center will focus on more familiar sports, such as bowling, arcade games, cyber-sport courts and a laser tag arena.

A 6,000-seat arena will be for other sports, conventions, concerts and special events and provide competition for Richmond venues. The floor of the arena will seat an additional 2,000 for concerts or graduation exercises.

Speaking of competition, Burton denied speculation that he's been courting the Richmond Renegades, the professional hockey team that plays its home games at the Richmond Coliseum. The team is lucky to draw 4,000 fans to a game, draining much of the team's financial resources. "We've not had any discussions about that at all," he replied.

The health care building - with a sports medicine clinic, fitness and rehab center, sports science laboratory and weight management clinic planned - could heat up competition among major hospital groups. Asked if he was contemplating a partnership with HCA (the area's largest hospital chain), Burton responded, "We've had discussions with a wide range of partners for health care."

Because Hilton Hotels has an established relationship with the Olympic program, Burton anticipates a Hilton there with some 200 rooms, many with suites and designed for long-term stay by teams. It will also have a bar and grill and a café.

Finally, the complex will have 20,000 square feet of retail including an Olympic store and pro shop for campus sports. For more information, go to www.sportsquest.biz.

"The first thing is to put quality programming in place [with the help of Olympic governing bodies]," explained Burton. "Our business will be driven by quality recreation, sports and family entertainment that people want to use. Sponsorships will be the glitter… Our portfolio includes capital investment, bank debts, sponsor dollars and programming revenues."

Midlothian Town Center

With the support of the Village of Midlothian Volunteer Coalition (VMVC) and Salisbury residents who had earlier raised objections, the commission unanimously approved a site plan for a 246-unit apartment complex and 10,800 square feet of commercial space at Midlothian Turnpike and Winterfield Road.

"The applicant has been forthright in dealing with us…and we heartily endorse this project," said VMVC Chairman Peppy Jones.

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