$150M-plus for Pelicans, Saints, amateur sports and more

636390217861652948-IMG-5571.JPG

(Photo: Lex Talamo/The Times)

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler's Administration on Tuesday proposed a $100 million-plus multi-use downtown development to include a sports complex aimed in part at attracting a professional basketball team.

The project on the north side of downtown Shreveport would have two parts, city officials said in presenting the proposal during a City Council meeting:

  • A "mixed-use" development combining retail stores, professional offices, residences and entertainment venues, built with up to $139 million in private money.
  • A sports complex, with an indoor center with capacity for seating 3,200, which would be built with up to $27.1 million in public funds provided by city government. The entire sports complex would provide a venue for both professional and amateur sports.

City officials said the sports complex would be the "centerpiece" of the entire development. They hope the center would entice the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans to choose Shreveport as home to a new developmental league team.

The city presentation also included a reference to part of the sports complex potentially being used as?a practice facility by the New Orleans Saints?professional football team, according to city's proposal.

More:?Proposed complex includes plan for Saints training camp

The sports complex may draw the most public reaction because of the public funding.

But the rest of the development would represent a bigger financial investment and could do as much to change the face of downtown. According to a map included in a press packet distributed Tuesday, the development would stretch from the Red River along the Cross Bayou corridor north of the Hilton Hotel and surround the Water Works Museum and Visitor Center.

City officials said the development would create jobs, lead to increased city tax revenue, provide more opportunities for fair share and minority businesses, and support the renewal of "underutilized areas" throughout the city.?

The presentation included a video of Pelicans-clad supporters waving pom-poms and shouting "We Want the Pelicans!" Shreveport is one of two remaining finalists for the Pelicans developmental team. The other is Pensacola, Florida.

But some of the more than a dozen people who spoke at Tuesday's meeting expressed less enthusiasm than those in the city-sponsored Pelicans video. They questioned the merits of investing in the sports complex and mixed-use development rather than the police department, city streets and other infrastructure, or existing sports venues such as the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum that have fallen into disrepair.

The city council, after the sometimes contentious input from citizens, voted 5-2 to approve a resolution permitting the mayor to start working to secure revenue bonds that would pay for the city portion of the project. Tuesday's vote did not obligate the city to spend money on the development. A final council vote is scheduled for Sept. 12.

A layout of the Shreveport sports Complex

A layout of the Shreveport sports Complex?(Photo: Lex Talamo/The Times)

Already, the city has partnered with Corporate Realty, a Birmingham, Alabama-based group of master planners. The company is a private investor and would act as developer of both the sports complex and the mixed-use development. The city is not paying Corporate Realty.

"We intend to build on the local operators here, to establish a local flavor with an eye to the future," said Meredith Ray Calhoun, the director of business development for Corporate Realty.

Construction costs of the complex are estimated at around $21.7 million, with additional costs bringing the total to $27.1 million, according to the city.

Plans for the sports complex include a concourse level with restrooms and concession stands and the playing court.

A ground level would have visitor facilities, a team store and storage space. For the Pelicans, it also would have an office suite, sports medicine and strength and conditioning space.

Other details about the sports complex:

  • A 68,000-square-foot venue designed for basketball events
  • Seating for 3,200 with individual chair back seats
  • 2,000 square feet of "premium club" seating for approximately 100 court-view seats
  • 120 courtside seats
  • Two concession areas

Funding and revenue

Brian Crawford, the city's chief administrative officer, said the sports complex and mixed-use development could be built with no additional taxes for citizens.

Crawford said the sports complex would be "self-sustaining" through a public-private partnership, in which the city would invest up to $30 million. Payments on the bond debt would come initially from the Riverfront Development Fund and later from other sources of tax revenue generated by the development itself.

The sports complex is expected to bring in slightly more than $1 million in its first year, with estimated expenses around $925,000, for a profit of $142,000, according to the city. Those figures assume that the Pelicans choose Shreveport.

The city's presentation projected at least $139 million would come from private investors.

The city's Brian Crawford and Mayor Ollie Tyler during

The city's Brian Crawford and Mayor Ollie Tyler during the Sports Complex presentation at council meeting on Tuesday.?(Photo: Lex Talamo/The Times)

Complex vs. ongoing city issues

In the presentation prior to public comments, City Attorney William Bradford spoke of a "proven track record" of support for the Pelicans, saying Shreveport hosted preseason games in 2014 and 2016. He also said that support from local community leaders would make Shreveport attractive as a finalist.

The press packet listed 16 local agencies that are in favor of the development, including the Committee of 100, the Downtown Development Authority, the African American Chamber of Commerce, and the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.

Still, there will be opponents. Councilmen Willie Bradford and James Flurry voted against Tuesday's resolution.

Citizens also spoke against the development.

"I saw Fair Grounds Field has become a brand new home for bats, and we won't put the out the money to abate it," said Shreveport citizen Megyn Tiller. "On a small scale, I'd like to have it renovated, for some sort of SPAR activities, for young kids to come in and play."

Others offered caution. Shreveport small businessman Keith Hanson said he supported any opportunity to bring economic development to downtown. But he also asked that the council keep an eye on small businesses, such as his, rather than be starstruck by the draw of out-of-town developers.

"I'm not against this. I just want to make sure small businesses are being included," Hanson said. "I haven't seen equal opportunities for small businesses like mine."

Since disclosure of the plan late Monday afternoon, multiple petitions opposing the development appeared in social media. They had garnered hundreds of signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

Timeline and blueprint

The "Pelicans Schedule" timeline presented in the press packet put the project start date of Sept. 1, with design and pre-construction ending in May 2018. The facility "move-in" is listed as early as September 2019, with a 2019 season in the new facility starting in November 2019.

Who does the city want to hire?

  • Co-Bond Counsel: Adams and Reese, LLP (New Orleans) and Washington & Wells, LLC (Shreveport).
  • City counsel:?William Bradford, Shreveport city attorney.
  • Municipal Advisor:?The RSI Group, LLC (Little Rock, Arkansas).
  • Investment Bankers/underwriters:?Loop Capital Markets, LLC (Chicago, Illinois).
  • Disclosure counsel:?Joshua K. Williams (Shreveport).
  • Paying Agent/Registrar:?Regions Bank (Baton Rouge).
  • Special Counsel:?Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson (Baton Rouge) and Jacqueline Scott & Associates (Bossier City).
  • Special Tax Counsel:?Kutak Rock (Chicago, Illinois).
  • Environmental Counsel:?Rodel Parsons Koch Blache Balhoff Parsons (Louisiana).

-Shreveport Times