Hurricane City Council hears results of Hurricane Regional Sports Complex feasibility study

Brian Connollly of Victus Advisors presents results of regional sports complex feasibility study at Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, April 21, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

HURRICANE – The premier agenda item at Thursday night’s Hurricane City Council meeting was a presentation on the results of the feasibility study for the proposed Hurricane Regional Sports Complex.

Brian Connolly, managing principal of Victus Advisors, the group that completed the study, presented its favorable results. Connolly noted that building the complex would keep local sports teams closer to home. According to the study’s estimates, just over 350,000 people would visit the facility each year, logging approximately 15,272 field hours. The complex would be utilized the most for soccer, with an estimated 7,824 field hours followed by baseball with 3,600.

The study included extensive research and numerous interviews with individuals in different facets of sports, including representatives from Washington County’s municipalities, Dixie State University, Real Salt Lake, the Huntsman World Senior Games, soccer organizations, baseball organizations and many more.

The initial phase of the proposed sports complex would include eight multi-use fields for sports such as soccer, football, rugby and lacrosse, as well as four baseball fields while a future phase could include four more multi-use fields and four more baseball fields.

Councilman Darin Larson questioned Connolly as to whether the baseball fields could be used for softball, to which Connolly responded they would be baseball-only fields. According to the study, the greatest demand is for soccer and baseball. Connolly said the study found that the county feels its needs are being met for softball.

Mayor John Bramall said that Hurricane’s current baseball fields are rated near the bottom compared to fields in other Washington County’s municipalities, but their high usage illustrates the need for more and better baseball fields.

Hurricane Recreation Director Bryce King said that the city would have to rent the future fields to private groups to help recoup maintenance costs.

Connolly said that once the baseball fields are in place, more clubs will pop up to use them.

The feasibility study was only the first phase in the process of making the complex a reality. Phase two will include the council further discussing its viability and approaching potential donors to help figure out how the ambitious project will be financed.

“The feasibility study report does not mean that it is a done deal — far from it,” Larson said after the meeting. “The question now is how would it be funded. Will the other municipalities and county be involved, and is it a higher priority than other projects in the community? It is a multimillion-dollar proposition, and we need to hear from the mayor on his proposals to pay for it.”

Other Hurricane City Council business

World Off-Road Championship Series race:

Sean Reddish made a presentation to the council about the most recent World Off-Road Championship Series race at Sand Hollow from April 15-17, saying it was a difficult event this year with the wind but that it still went on as planned and had excellent support, especially from Sand Hollow State Park itself. Reddish estimated that the event was responsible for 675 room nights within the county.

Reddish said that one of the challenges the event will face in the future is parking, saying that the event ran out of adequate parking. Larson suggested shuttling people in from a remote site, which Reddish said is undesirable because they would have to leave personal belongings behind.

Such events, Reddish said, increase the visibility of Sand Hollow State Park, especially for off-roaders.

Reddish said he would appreciate any assistance from the Hurricane Valley Fire District for the event, but the council did not discuss it.

Support for Frog Hollow mountain biking events:

Cimarron Chacon, of GRO Promotions, presented to the council on the “Six Hours In Frog Hollow” mountain bike race last Saturday, which, much like the World Off-Road Championship Series race, went on as planned despite high winds.

Chacon, the race’s director, touted how much the Frog Hollow mountain bike events, including “25 Hours in Frog Hollow” in November, have grown since their inception in 2009. Chacon said the 25-hour event had only 76 participants in 2009 but had 1,120 last year. The participants in these races also bring many nonparticipant guests, Chacon said, and those participants and their guests are staying longer.

Chacon’s main purpose for attending the meeting was to ask for Hurricane Valley Fire District assistance from the council for the next 25 hours in Frog Hollow event this November, as well as a reimbursement for fire services expenses for the race last week.

Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann responded by saying that the fire budget is fixed based on revenues. Councilman Kevin Tervort, who serves on the Fire District board, echoed Kuhlmann, saying the Fire District is on a tight budget and is in the process of building another station.

Councilwoman Pam Humphries said that her issue is that the race, now in its eighth year, should be self-sufficient. She said she would consider support through advertising dollars but nothing else, to which Tervort, Larson and King agreed.

Chacon said the event has helped make Hurricane a popular mountain biking destination and that they receive no money from their sponsors, only in-kind donations. She used Findlay Auto Group as an example, saying it provides items such as trailers, a sound system, a finish line and other considerations at no cost with no money changing hands.

Tervort said he has a problem using taxpayers’ money to assist an event that does not even take place in Hurricane, saying LaVerkin and other municipalities should help.

The awards ceremony is in Hurricane, and the event only uses Hurricane vendors, Chacon said in response to Tervort.

Larson asked to be reminded of how the council supported the event last year, when the council wrote off the fire services bill, which was possible because Hurricane was not part of the Hurricane Valley Fire District at the time.

Tervort told Chacon she should raise entry fees and approach other municipalities to help cover fire services costs, while King suggested asking for money from sponsors. Humphries agreed with Tervort, saying specifically that Virgin and LaVerkin should help too.

Humphries made a motion to deny reimbursement for fire services for the 6-hour race with a request for Chacon to come back after she has approached other municipalities for help. The motion carried unanimously.

Despite the council denying her request, Chacon stated that she has appreciated Hurricane’s support of her events and that the event wouldn’t be where it is today without their support.

At the beginning of the meeting, King recognized three local businesses who were integral in replacing the city’s baseball field scoreboards – Wal-Mart, Hutch Electric and Pepsi.

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