2012-06-20 / Front Page

Shaw hires manager for SportsQuest complex

Gym, senior center still expected
By Michael Buettner

The company that recently acquired the SportsQuest athletic complex on Genito Road has pledged to meet its obligations to Chesterfield County and has hired a regional commercial real estate services firm to manage and maintain the property.

But while the deal assures that the county will continue to have use of the athletic fields at the complex, it leaves open the question of whether some additional facilities promised to the county by SportsQuest will materialize on schedule.

Shaw Industries of Dalton, Ga., acquired the 115-acre athletic complex and a nearby 5-acre parcel for $4.7 million on May 29 in a courthouse auction after the company foreclosed on the property. Shaw claimed SportsQuest owed it $15 million for artificial turf. The property is now owned by a recently formed Shaw subsidiary, Sports Complex Holdings.

Chuck Dobbins, director of corporate assets for Shaw, said his company is still evaluating the acquisition and hasn’t yet made any firm long-term plans. However, he added, “In the meantime, Shaw has retained CBRE in Richmond to handle property management of the complex, and they will ensure that appropriate maintenance services necessary to operate the campus continue.”

CBRE Group, based in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services company. Todd Willett and Marc A. Allocca, in CBRE’s Richmond office, are in charge of managing the former SportsQuest facility for Shaw.

Use of the fields at SportsQuest’s east campus was just one part of the county’s original deal with SportsQuest, according to Mike Golden, director of the Chesterfield Parks and Recreation.

In 2010, the county entered a $4.3 million agreement with SportsQuest that had two components: $2.3 million to lease eight of SportsQuest’s nine athletic fields and $2 million to use gym space at a sports, aquatics and fitness center, and to designate 10,000 square feet of space on SportsQuest’s west campus for a senior center. Both parts of the agreement were to run for 20 years, and both are secured by the county’s priority lien on the east campus property, Golden said.

The county’s continued use of the athletic fields is not in question, as Shaw has pledged to honor that lease. “There is a current lease agreement in place with Chesterfield County that gives it the right to use SportsQuest fields during certain times, and that access will continue,” Dobbins said.

The other part of the original deal remains to be addressed, however. SportsQuest’s west campus never materialized, and its lease of space for its fitness center was terminated by the landlord in February. The agreement with the county set a date of September 2013 for it to start using the additional facilities.

“We still need to find a resolution for that,” Golden said. “We still look at some point in time for some kind of agreement with Shaw” concerning the gym space and senior center, he said, referring to both the fitness center and the west campus, which was supposed to include a senior center.

Dobbins said Shaw is still weighing its options for the property and declined to comment directly on whether the company plans to retain the complex or put it up for sale.

“Given that Shaw just recently took possession of the property, there are a number of immediate issues that need to be resolved before any long-term decisions are made about the use of the property,” he said.

As for SportsQuest itself, the future is also unclear.

In February, company founder and then-president Steve Burton posted an online message to members that outlined a restructuring of the company into three separate businesses, which he labeled events, academy and membership. Burton wrote that the company was in talks with unnamed investor groups interested in buying one or another of those business segments.

But those deals didn’t happen, and in April SportsQuest’s board said it had “reconstituted its board of managers” and named longtime swimming coach and promoter Dudley Duncan as general manager, replacing Burton as top executive.

Duncan told the Observer at the time that the company had hired a law firm to perform a legal audit and an accounting firm to undertake a financial audit as part of a process of evaluating its options.

Burton and Duncan did not return phone messages requesting comment last week. There was also no reply to a message left at SportsQuest’s corporate office number.

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