Powering up Hazelwood
Construction set to begin on $63 million POWERplex Sports Resort, a youth sports campus on the site of the former St. Louis Outlet Mall
By Charlotte Beard
After Aug. 30, construction will begin at the former St. Louis Outlet Mall to convert it to POWERplex Sports Resort, a $63 million campus for youth sports tourism. The project’s lead developer for the campus that will cover 160 plus acres is Big Sports Properties.
“We have St. Louis County Councilman, Mark Harder to thank for directing Dan Buck to the St. Louis Outlet Mall,” stated Tim Davidson, city of Hazelwood Communications Manager. “When Dan Buck was trying to put the project in Chesterfield, they rejected his request for additional time to create the financing he needed for the project. So, Mark Harder suggested that (he) consider St. Louis Outlet Mall.”
Dan Buck, Managing Partner for Big Sports Properties states, “We think it can generate over $300 million a year at maturity for the St. Louis region and that’s including all the hotels that will benefit in about a 20-mile radius around the campus. Obviously where people stay is also where they eat, so restaurants see a big up-tick. When you draw 2.9 million new visitors to a region that can have a huge economic impact – not with just what happens on our campus but throughout the whole 20-mile radius that surrounds us. When you look at venues around the country that have been built you see that the ripple effect of economic growth stretches well beyond the immediate acreage of the sports complex. It has great economic impact on the whole region. Because we run 50 weekends a year, there’s no real slow down because we have so many indoor and outdoor venues that allows us to have a very steady flow of tourism throughout the entire calendar year.”
Davidson adds, “Hopefully it will be a successful endeavor and generate additional tax revenue for the city. It will be a great usage of a mall that has been deteriorating over the last few years and bring in more people (to the city). Phase 2 plans for the complex includes having hotels added to the complex to accommodate parents that bring in their kid for a sports tournament. They would be able to stay in the hotel and kids would have a chance to stay in some dorms that would be set up at the sports complex.”
In addition, Davidson shared that the St. Louis County Council approved a $6 million donation to the project from the hotel tax fund for the county and city. He also stated that the project’s terms allow Big Sports Properties to request an additional $2 million in road funding for the area from the county.
Both Davidson and Buck shared that one of the primary benefits for using the mall for the project is that the existing structure and layout require less construction than other sites that may have been considered. Buck shared that primarily the outer building structures will be retained.
The POWERplex will accommodate baseball, softball, volleyball, beach volleyball, pickleball, basketball, seven on seven football, hockey, dance, cheerleading, lacrosse, field hockey, ultimate frisbee and major wrestling events. Six new sports venues specifically created to accommodate the needs of each sport are being designed both inside and outside the 1.5 million square foot former shopping mall.
Buck stated, “We’ll host over 180 events and tournaments a year and those will be in a variety of different sports. What’s great about our spaces and how we’re designing them – they can be used for multiple sports. For example, the volleyball and basketball venue that has 26 hard courts can be converted to 46 wrestling mats (or) 60 pickleball courts. We can host a wide range of expos and conferences in that space as well. It’s 170,000 square feet of large open space. So, with the ability to host a wide range of different activities, events, tournaments, conferences, clinics, camps – we will have a very diversified calendar that allows us to utilize the large spaces in a variety of different ways.”
In addition to the hosting capabilities shared by Buck for events such as auto shows, boat shows, home and garden shows and sports expos, Davidson shared the added benefit of the resort for its Hazelwood youth.
“As part of the terms and settlement agreement, (Hazelwood) is providing a $600,000 grant from the capital improvement fund to help fund construction of three ball fields on the property,” stated Davidson. “In return the city can use the field from April 1 through July 15 for 10 years from 5 – 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday. This allows the city to host two baseball and softball leagues at the venue.”
In addition to facility accommodations for the sports venues, the campus will include what is stated to be the largest indoor dome in America at 750’ x 300’ feet and 120’ feet high. The air structure is being manufactured by St. Louis-based Arizon.
Remaining tenant – Cabela’s – will be joined by other existing tenants in providing amenities at the resort: Integrity Fitness, Rusty Wallace Racing, M4 Group/VIP Theaters, Old Town Gringo’s, Jimmy John’s, Culver’s, Wetzel’s Pretzels and A & W Root Beer.
Davidson states, “There’s going to be several other (things) that people can do while there for the tournaments that will keep them at the [resort] instead of having to go to different parts of the (St. Louis) area. They can stay on the complex and enjoy all the entertainment amenities while they’re in-between tournament games.”
It’s been stated that the development, in partnership with Cissell Mueller Company, LLC, commercial real estate brokers, is also seeking an additional six restaurants, a ropes course, ninja course, or trampoline park partner, and hotel partners. The master plan also calls for an indoor/outdoor waterpark resort at the main entrance on 18.6 acres by 2022.
Many local sports teams, clubs and organizations have plans to make the youth sports complex their headquarters for practices, training, leagues and competitions. St. Louis native Bradley Beal, a current NBA All-Star for the Washington Wizards and a member of the Big Sports Properties ownership team, will headquarter his Bradley Beal Elite Basketball Club and training program on campus.
At the new property’s press conference Beal stated, “This is something that doesn’t just transform sports in our region. This place will change lives and impact kids for decades to come. I’ve never been more excited to make a dream become a reality.”
Also, among the local onsite teams will be the Gateway Region of USA Volleyball, St. Louis Crossfire Volleyball Club, and High Performance, which Buck states has 82 teams. In addition, the baseball and softball clubs that will be onsite are Chaos, Swarm, Prospects (softball), and St. Louis Pirates.
“We will be merging three softball teams into a house team for girls’ softball that will have more than 30 teams,” added Buck. “We’re in negotiations with more than a dozen other clubs who are interested in headquartering out of the POWERplex.”
Additionally, contracts remain in negotiation for some colleges and universities that desire to use the venue for athletics, student life and academic uses.
Big Sports Properties’ seven-partner group also attributes the future success of the resort to its many partners and sponsors. They have received commitments from Heartland Coca-Cola, BJC/Christian Hospital (official medical partner), and Ameren Missouri who will be providing expertise on making the complex energy efficient.
Construction will begin after Big Sports Properties closes on the land the end of next month. Demolition will begin to remove walls for the internal mall stores to open the spaces for the various sports venues. When the project is complete there will be six major sports venues, 13 restaurants, hotels and over 12 sports-focused retail stores. Many of the amenities are expected to open early 2020 and the sports complexes are slated for fall 2020.
“We think this POWERplex is going to be something unique to the country in the fact that this is the first redevelopment of a mall into a major sports and youth complex,” stated Davidson.
“St. Louis should be really proud,” adds Buck. “A lot of people get frustrated by the lack of cooperation sometimes that we see between various municipalities, the county and the state. But St. Louis should be proud of the partnerships that have made this thing happen – from the city of Hazelwood, Convention and Visitors Commission, St. Louis County, the state. It’s a remarkable example of how a community can come together to do something special and take what is currently a blighted reliability and turn it into a great long-term community asset. We can’t wait to get started.”
CUTLINE: Submitted photos These artists’ renderings show the completed POWERplex Sports Resort, a $63 million campus for youth sports tourism.
CUTLINE: Cover-Power2 At the media preview on July 9, St. Louis-based Arizon displayed a replica of the largest indoor sports dome in America, spanning 750 ft. x 300 ft. (5.2 acres) with ceiling of 120 ft., which will be added to POWERplex. (From left) Dan Buck, managing partner of Big Sports Properties stands with Hazelwood City Council members: Ward 2 Councilman Bob Aubuchon; City Clerk Chris Thomas; Ward 7 Councilwoman Ro Hendon; Ward 8 Councilwoman Mary Singleton; Ward 1 Councilwoman Carol Stroker; and Ward 5 Councilman Russell Todd.