The Tempe City Council heard some of the first estimates Thursday on how much it would cost to make the city one of the Southwest’s premier destinations for youth and amateur sports.
Total construction costs of a lighted 20-field soccer complex near the southeast corner of Tempe Town Lake: $9.5 million. A 13-court tennis facility: $5.4 million.
But that’s not the problem, said Rio Salado Project manager Chris Anaradian.
"We can afford to build part of this," Anaradian said. "We can’t afford to operate it."
Running the soccer complex would cost as much as $1.25 million a year, and operation costs for the tennis facility would run about $410,000 a year. The city will soon issue requests for proposals to private entities to help shoulder the costs.
A private partner would need the funds to operate the facilities — and to sustain some losses during the first few years, Anaradian said.
"We’re very, very interested to see if there’s a group out there who can make a go of this," he said.
The request for proposals for financial help on the soccer fields will likely go out by the end of June. The city will follow with proposals for the tennis complex.
Tempe will soon lose Cardinals football and the Fiesta Bowl, but the city could reap millions a year through youth sports, officials said.
A 20-field soccer complex alone could generate $4 million a year in economic impact, according to the study presented Thursday.
The council also gave the go-ahead to pay for a study determining the best spot for a hotel and small conference center near the lake.
Tempe has wanted to build a hotel near there for years, but developers have had trouble finding financing.
The addition of youth sports in the area and the upcoming Arizona State University Biodesign Institute might provide enough business to sustain a new downtown hotel, some council members said.