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Placer County may get sports complex

A feasibility study will determine the need for a multi-sport facility
By: Josh Fernandez
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Placer County could be home to a new sports tourism center with the potential to attract thousands of tourists – and their dollars – to the region each year. Greg Van Dusen, CEO of Placer Valley Tourism (the visitors bureau funded by hotels in Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin), announced Thursday it hired Ripken Design to conduct a feasibility study to determine the need for a sports tourism center in the region. The study, which cost the visitors bureau about $26,000, will look at the economic impact and value of a sports complex to local residents. And while it’s still in the preliminary stages, a Placer County sports center isn’t quite a pipe dream, Van Dusen said. “We don’t want to end up with some study that just goes on a shelf,” he said. We want to get something built.” Van Dusen even provided a conceptual rendering, which shows a sports complex that spans 200 acres of land, boasting more than 20 fields, hotel accommodations and retail shops. But that’s just what he calls a “perfect world scenario.” “From something like this we will work down to reality, which we think will still be great,” he said. Ripken Design, the firm handling the feasibility study, is a Maryland-based sales and marketing company headed by Major League Baseball’s 19-time All Star Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother, Bill. The company specializes in feasibility, design and operation of professional and amateur sports centers. Jim Arnold, Ripken’s director of projects, says that because of Placer County’s shopping, aquatic park, bowling and hotels, the region has the makings of a great sports complex. “As an area, it’s fantastic,” Arnold said. The idea for a sports complex stems from a joint 2009 study with the Placer County Economic Development Department, which showed that in 2007, out-of-county tourism spending was $155 million, Van Dusen said. “That would be like the Department of Treasury coming in and taking $155 million out of circulation,” he said, adding that a sports complex could generate enough revenue to lessen that deficit. But a sports complex might need the support of taxpayers. So when is the public going to get involved? “I don’t know the answer to that,” Van Dusen said. “The study team includes a land use consultant, an architectural firm – in addition to Ripken Design – and at some point there would be some public input, but we have to get the results of the study back first. We don’t know what site will be recommended. We don’t know what financing plan will be recommended. We don’t know what type of fields or courts will be recommended.” City of Roseville Parks and Recreation assistant director Jeff Dubchansky said funding could come from taxpayer dollars, or be funded privately. Either way, he’s excited about the possibility. The feasibility study, which should be completed within 90 days, will address questions about the location, cost, size and scope of the project.