Swim center discussion goes late
Cape Coral City Council heard a formal presentation from city, county and National Swimming Center Officials on Monday, hoping they would glean the information needed to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding for all parties to keep the Concourse at Cape Coral moving forward.
Lee County Sports Authority Director Jeff Mielke said the project — with a projected cost of $84.9 million — would pump $21 million of “new money” into the local economy, and generate 65,704 room nights, numbers that were equal to a single Majojr League Baseball spring training team.
He said those figures were conservative, and he based them on a schedule of 12 annual swimiming events. He said he did not include diving or syncronized swimming events in his estimates.
“This aquatic center, on a very conservative model, generates spring training numbers,” Mielke said.
City Council was still debating the issue at press time, but the board members still felt there were unanswered questions from the presentation.
Designed as a multi-phase project, NSCC officials said they do not have a hotelier on board for the hotel/convention center portion.
Councilmember Pete Brandt, too, didn’t feel the numbers in the presentation proved the business model to be a successful one.
“I don’t see how we can get there,” he said. “There’s still a lot more I want to see.”
John Mcilargy, director of project development for the NSCC, said the business model was so new, that it was difficult to measure how successful it could be.
“We think our business model works very well,” he said.
To ensure that the arena is open by December 2012, it was determined that a contract between the city, Lee County and the NSCC needs to be in place by June of this year.
A tight timeline exists because, according to NSCC officials, the bid cycle for swim events would not favor the new facility if it were not open by 2012.
Councilmember Marty McClain said the council needs to focus on more than just the swimming portion of the facility, and to take into account all the financial possibilities associated with the project.
He also said the memorandum of understanding was not the end-all be-all, merely a jumping off point to continue the negotiation process with all involved parties.
“The MOU is nothing more than generating a contract,” McClain said.
City Council was still debating the issue at press time.