The Williamson County commissioners were ready to kick things off on creating a sports authority on Monday night.
So ready that they moved the late-added resolution up to the top of the agenda. After hearing supporting statements from Mayor Rogers Anderson and Ellie Chin, CEO and President of Visit Franklin, they voted 21-0 in favor of creating a sports authority for Williamson County.
The sports authority will figure out the need for a sports complex, what kind should be built and help create attractive financing for it on the one hand. On the other hand it will take efforts to attract tournaments and events with youth and amateur sports organizations.
The resolution’s passage starts the process of fostering the development of a regional sports complex in the county. The idea gained momentum in the last month and a half after the closure of A-Game Sportsplex in Cool Springs became imminent.
“Our first step from here is a feasibility study,” said Chin, who served on the Nashville Sports Council, which had a hand in the sports authority in the ’90s that helped lead to the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans coming to Nashville and building Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium.
“First we ask if we need a study and if we do, what is the combination of sports. The study will come back and show us what we need to build. They next step is how do we get it built, with a combination of private and public, or just private or public- we don’t know that yet.”
“That is what SA is being formed to do: research to see what it is we need and how we can get it done.”
It all starts with youth and amatuer sports. Chin said that when she looked at the numbers Williamson County businesses are leaving an estimated $6.5 million on the table a year because the county does not have the facilities to meet the demand for sports events and tournaments. On average, she said, the county lost 50,000 room nights per year in 2014 and 2015.
There is a high demand, she said, for Williamson County as a location for sports events in large part because of attractive hotel, restaurant and retail options.
“Sports is big business in Williamson County,” Anderson said. “Let’s allow the free market to come in and say, we want to be a part of that in WIlliamson County.”
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