Westfield seeking buyer or new manager for Grand Park Sports Campus

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The Westfield Redevelopment Commission is seeking a buyer or new manager for Grand Park Sports Campus, according to a request for proposals it issued Thursday.

The RFP says the commission “seeks proposals from qualified respondents interested in purchasing the sports campus known as ‘Grand Park’ in Westfield, Indiana, or in entering a public-private agreement to operate Grand Park pursuant to Indiana Code 5-23.” Indiana Code 5-23 deals with requirements for public-private agreements.

The RFP also says a “successful respondent must prove the financial history to undertake their proposed form of purchase or operations, and also be able to provide the services called for and described herein, which shall consist of all supervision, equipment, labor, and all other items necessary to ensure the premium operation of all aspects of Grand Park.”

Respondents are required to inform the commission of their intent to respond to the RFP by April 1. Proposals are due by 3 p.m. June 22.

According to RFP requirements, the buyer or manager must retain city employees at the park for at least two years.

The 400-acre Grand Park, which opened in 2014, has 31 soccer fields, 26 baseball diamonds, two administration buildings, seven concession stands and a 378,000 square foot multi-use event center. The Indianapolis Colts moved their annual summer training camp to the park in 2018.

According to Westfield, Grand Park draws 2.5 million visitors each year and helps the city attract more than $1.5 million in economic development annually.

Grand Park is owned by Westfield, which uses Bullpen Tournaments to manage the baseball diamonds and tournaments at the park.

In January, the city entered into a professional services agreement with Fishers-based Legacy Sports Group to provide business development and support services. Legacy Sports Group is led by William Knox, who was city-appointed director of Grand Park from 2016 to 2021.

Westfield Mayor appointed Matt Trnian to replace Knox in January.

The Westfield City Council has engaged in several public squabbles related to Bullpen Tournaments and its management of the baseball diamonds. Last July, the council imposed new oversight of the park’s contracts after council member accused the organization of failing to pay the city $470,000 in admission fees.

Late last year, The Indiana State Board of Accounts released a report that said the city did not comply with state laws and guidelines when it entered into its informal agreement with Bullpen Tournaments.

A message left with Westfield Director of Enterprise Development John Rogers, who is listed as the contact on the RFP, was not immediately returned.

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9 thoughts on “Westfield seeking buyer or new manager for Grand Park Sports Campus

  1. Finally the right solution for Westfield. Grand Park never should have been city owned. Next major decision will be to return proceeds back to the taxpayers that have funded it for 10 years.

    1. There are no proceeds. It sounds like the Park struggles to cover O&M costs much less provide a contribution to offset the capital cost to build. Westfield taxpayers will be on the hook for those costs for years (if not forever).

  2. While negative articles and comments may suggest otherwise, Grand Park continues to be a success. If not for Grand Park, our county hoteliers and hospitality groups would have felt a greater sting through Covid-19. Selling this facility has several challenges that need to be acknowledged. How will recreational sports be supported going forward? Are we protecting the cost/expense for local use by recreational leagues if sold? How will a non-government cover real estate tax payments and other taxes that are not paid currently as this will most likely be passed on to the consumer? Will they seek abatements? How will hotel tax/event fee be handled? There are so many unknowns and understanding the business model, it would behoove us to be conservative in an approach, maybe even having an operator lease it for a few years before we agree to sell. From a purely development standpoint, that facility is already designed to be turned into a corporate campus with infrastructure, parking and proximity to highways/housing already in place. From my perspective (as has been my opinion for years), we need to lease operations to a private organization with a long-term lease. If in 10, 15 or 20 years we want to sell it, that land will be invaluable. These all may be being considered but it is not evident in the RFP.

    1. Is this Ken Alexander? If so, more proof that Hamilton County elected “conservatism” is just progressivism driving the speed limit. I applaud this move. Would Brainard and Mestetsky ever have the guts to do the same with the Palladium and Hotel Carmicheal, or do they keep playing SimCity?

    2. Ken, how do you measure success? Westfield taxpayers paid for Grand Park. Was their motivation to ensure the county hospitality industries were better able to weather a global, short-term pandemic? I don’t think so.

      Did it reduce their taxes? No. Does it spur growth and economic development? Yes, there’s some new development. Does that development provide sufficient tax revenue to reduce Westfield residents’ taxes? No. And Grand Park struggles to cover operating costs. Does it provide amenities that Westfield residents desire? Yes, there are some but do those outweigh the trade-off of increased traffic and suburban sprawl? Think of all the neighborhood parks, trails and other amenities that Westfield could have built with the Grand Park money.

    3. Mike, I measure success through a sustainable business plan. Fledgling businesses typically struggle as did Grand Park (GP) in the beginning, but it has blossomed. I also think your information may be outdated as I believe they had surpluses this last year. Even with this creative financed GP investment, I’m not sure it had any impact on tax rate as it was financed with an arm and refinanced into a TIF bond that now has created enough assessed value (AV) to pay the lions share, if not all, of the debt service. The city can provide that information, but you referenced tax rate and reductions which has more variables. If you look at Westfield’s (city) portion of your property tax bill (0.75050), it is less than Carmel (0.78770) and Noblesville (1.100). You can find those statistics on the Hamilton County website with a google search. What hits your bill that moves that number higher is the schools where Westfield is 0.5 higher than Carmel. Could we have built other things with the same creative financing, yes. Would it have generated the same AV? The answer is no so it would not be a similar return. Grand Park was built to drive economic development. Everyone recognizes that it has done that, but it has not captured as much corporate taxpayers as we would like. The lack of civility and general uncertainty in the Westfield government has scared many site selectors away and that is why you see a lack of new economic development proposals on the Council agenda. I’m all for doing what is the most fiscally prudent solution but selling that property is a concern of mine but I don’t make those decisions.

  3. Hamilton county should set up a non- profit organization like Marion county has with the Capitol Improvement Board who manages Victory field ,Bakers life, Convention center and Lucas oil stadium .I know it works,I been there 15 Years!

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