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Developer revives proposal for massive Fishers sports complex

August 16, 2017

A developer's proposal to build a massive sports facility has been revived after more than two years of inactivity.

GK Sports Development LLC of Carmel introduced the Fishers Sports Pavilion in April 2015, but construction never started. The city maintained that the delays were caused by financing issues, as the developer struggled to secure a loan for the $77 million project.

In April 2016—a year after introducing the project—GK Sports Development principal Barry Kiesel told IBJ that “it’s been a complicated project,” but said he remained optimistic it would move forward. The project, slated to be built near 136th Street and Olio Road, has remained stalled since.

But Kiesel is back with a modified project that has a slightly smaller price tag of $75 million and a slightly different location. Initially, it would have been built west of Olio Road along 136th Street. Now, the complex would be east of Olio Road along the south side of Southeastern Parkway.

His development company, now doing business as Fishers Sports Pavilion LLC, is expected to return to the Fishers City Council on Monday with an updated project proposal.

As originally proposed, the facility would have included a 4,200-square-foot ice rink arena, 245,000-square-foot fieldhouse that could accommodate 32 basketball and volleyball courts, a football field, an indoor track, a baseball training center and a 600-space parking garage.

New designs show that the facility would be 382,000 square feet with 245,000 square feet of turf, 12 hard surface courts and a 17,600-square-foot baseball training center. It would be built to accommodate training or play for 28 sports.

The ice rink arena component has been removed, but the facility would still be two stories tall with a track wrapping around the second level. A lounge, viewing area and offices would be on the second floor. Surface parking still would provide 600 spaces.

The size of the facility would put it on par with the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, which is nearly 400,000 square feet and also two levels. Westfield opened the arena, which is primarily used for soccer but can accommodate a variety of recreational activities and events, in the spring of 2016.

Kiesel was not immediately available for comment on the updated proposal.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said the project's new design was better than the old one.

“I was never a big proponent of the arena,” Fadness said. “Having an arena was more of the developer’s idea of bringing in a hockey team. I think the Indy Fuel does a great job with hockey, and I don’t see a need to duplicate those efforts.”

The existing Fuel Tank ice arena in Fishers is owned by an affiliate of the owners of the Indy Fuel professional hockey team. In addition, Fuel ownership and developer Gershman Partners announced plans in June to team up on a $40 million-plus sports, family entertainment and hospitality complex on 60 acres along Interstate 65 in Greenwood.

In order to secure financing this time around, Fadness said the developer will be using a special revenue bond that will go through the city rather than trying to obtain a loan. The bond would be paid for with revenue generated from the facility, and any shortfall would be covered by the developer.

“The city would not have any responsibility to step in and pay,” Fadness said.

Updated site plans show space for 11 retail outlots and a 120-to-140-room hotel that would surround the sports complex. The roughly 42-acre property is owned by Republic Development LLC, the lead developer of  the Saxony Corporate Campus project.

The public incentives for the project have remained mostly the same, with Fishers considering a deal to lease the facility.

According to the new proposed 20-year agreement, Fishers would pay $802,425 annually to give residents access to the courts and second-level track. The city would be able to use the courts for 11,545 hours during the school year and 14 hours per week during summer break.

The city also would be able to use the entire facility for three events per year, have equipment storage on the first floor and 250 square feet of office space on the second floor.

Instead of paying property taxes on the sports complex, the developer would make guaranteed payments to the city of $600,000 for the first 10 years and $800,000 for years 11 to 20.

Fishers also would receive revenue from a ticket fee of $1 that would be charged at events. The fee revenue is expected to total $150,000 to $200,000 per year, and $400,000 is expected to be generated in tax increment financing district revenue.

The city would use the funds from those various revenue streams to pay for its lease.

“It works out really well from a financial standpoint,” Fadness said.

The City Council is expected to discuss the agreement at its finance committee meeting Wednesday, and at its full council meeting Monday.

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