Fort Smith officials are examining the feasibility of building an indoor sports complex in the city.
The city used a grant to pay Conventions, Sports & Leisure International to conduct a study examining what having an indoor sports complex would look like in Fort Smith, said Tim Jacobsen, the executive director of advertising and pomotions in the city.
The study found that it would cost $ 31.2 million to build such a complex. Researchers also projected that the complex would have an annual economic output of $ 42.4 million.
The complex would host weekend tournaments, drawing visitors who would spend money on items such as hotels and restaurants to Fort Smith. It would also allow Fort Smith residents to use it recreationally during the week.
“I think it would be awesome,” Director Neal Martin said. “It would be great to have. The challenge with anything like that is how do we pay for it? ”
In the midst of a struggling economy, Martin said it is difficult to ask either the city or the residents to pay for an indoor sports complex.
“During a recession is not really the best time to reach out to individuals for any type of contributions for a facility like this,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen said the next step is creating a committee to analyze the big questions surrounding the complex such as funding, location, ownership and management.
Director Kevin Settle supported this next step and said that the city needs to involve all people and organizations that would be impacted by a complex to see what the public wants.
“Those are awful big things to tackle, and it will take some time to analyze what the best thing for Fort Smith would be if anything,” Jacobsen said.
The complex could host numerous sports such as volleyball, pickle ball, wrestling, cheer, and dance.
Bill Krueger with Conventions, Sports & Leisure International presented the study to the Fort Smith Board of Directors on June 14.
Krueger recommended that the complex have eight full-size basketball courts that could be converted into 16 volleyball courts.
Locations that could be ideal for a complex are near the river by the US Marshals Museum, Ben Geren Regional Park and Chaffee Crossing.
Jacobsen said having a complex could take between three to five years. But he also added that he has been on a similar project that took a decade to achieve.
During the journey toward getting an indoor sports complex, Jacobsen called for openness with the public.
“We want to be as transparent as possible and make good solid decisions that are best for Fort Smith,” Jacobsen said.
Alex Gladden is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. She previously reported for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Jonesboro Sun before joining the Times Record. She can be contacted at [email protected]