SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Sports Complex over by the Springfield-Branson National Airport will become a Community Improvement District (CID) to pay the city back for its investment.

“If you remember back a few months now the developers of the soccer and Sports Complex came to City Council and asked for some assistance with the public infrastructure related to the project,” Springfield Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner said. “City Council agreed to contribute up to $2 million of city funding to reimburse the developer for all of those kind of public infrastructure costs.”

The city paid the $2 million upfront and is having the developers pay them back.

“Essentially in this case we’re taking on the risk of whether or not the development will generate new revenue versus the developer taking on that risk,” Kerner said.

The Betty and Bobby Allison Sports Town will see a one-cent sales tax increase at the complex. The city set a 20-year term for the owners to pay the money back. This tax also includes retail surrounding the facility.

“We have 26 acres that border Chestnut Expressway right now that borders the Sports Complex,” Sports Town co-owner Stan Liedel said. “The Sports Complex is about 80 acres. Then, you’ve got 26 acres of commercial development on the North End that borders chestnut. We’re in talks with a couple of hotel chains and a convenience store chain.”

Kerner said the retail is needed to drive revenue from the sales tax.

“You would have to sell a lot of hot dogs at the concession stand to pay back $2 million worth of infrastructure with the one-cent sales tax,” Kerner said. “I am very hopeful that they will develop the retail as anticipated and be able to pay the city back.”

“The sales tax generated on a Sports Complex is not as extravagant as what you would get from a hotel or restaurant or any type of retail that we put,” Liedel said. “It’s important to have it as part of that.”

Sports Town was originally set to open in October. With delays on materials for construction, the opening of the indoor facility is getting pushed back. The outdoor soccer fields are nearing completion.

“Because of COVID, we’ve had a significant delay in our steel for our main building,” Liedel said. “That is not supposed to start until the end of spring early summer. In the meantime, we should be able to play events and do things on site from the first soccer and the general multipurpose fields.”

Liedel is hopeful the first soccer tournament will take place in March 2022. He said hotels and convenience stores are going to be key to hosting large tournaments.

“We feel like we’re coming into the market to help develop this part of [town],” Liedel said. “We’re right off the airport so it’s another corridor where Springfield really needed some development. If you’re a business traveler, you like to stay near an airport when you’re traveling. Here, you have to travel quite a distance from the airport to get to a hotel. Not only will it help our Sports Complex, but I think it’ll help the business travelers in this area.”

“[It’s] just a great benefit for our citizens as far as not having to travel for as many tournaments and things like that for families that are involved in youth sports,” Kerner said. “Also I think the fact that it was located at such a key location near our airport, City Council saw that as a big benefit to having a really attractive entryway into the city, as people were leaving the airport property.”

The CID will consist of a five person board. City council will officially approve the CID at the November 15 meeting.