Developers announced plans in December for the $1 billion Dream Parks at LakePoint, a 262-acre sports complex that would play host to baseball, lacrosse and soccer tournaments and a surrounding commercial development including restaurants, shops and hotels.
The facility is expected to draw 3 million people a year and create 2,000 to 4,000 jobs, potentially putting a lot of Cartersville’s unemployed back to work. The county's unemployment rate stood at 11.7 percent in November, the most recent figures available from the state.
“The city of Cartersville and the entire county will benefit greatly when the Dream Parks at LakePoint becomes a reality,” Mayor Matt Santini said. “The main benefit in the short term will be job opportunities. Dream Parks at LakePoint leadership has been aggressive in encouraging companies to send them information so they can be considered when construction begins. To me that is a real good sign that this organization is serious when they talk about being a part of our community. I would think that restaurants and some retail businesses would benefit in the short term as well.”
The first phase of the development, slated to cost $160 million, would include 16 tournament baseball fields, 12 tournament soccer/lacrosse fields and a 100,000-square-foot indoor sports facility. Construction is expected to begin in April, and games would begin in 2012 with three anchor tenants: Perfect Game USA; the North Atlanta Soccer Association; and LB3 Lacrosse.
Hotels, restaurants and retail establishments would come in subsequent phases.
“I'm conservatively guessing (the development’s) impact will approximately quadruple the existing revenue, jobs and taxes attributable to hotel sales in Bartow County and the overall economic impact of tourism,” said Ellen Archer, the executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With the addition of 4,000 hotel rooms at a conservative $85 per night, with a conservative 60 percent occupancy, that's additional hotel sales of $74.5 million a year, bringing in additional $6.7 million in taxes retained in Bartow County and almost $3 million additional state tax dollars—and that's just on hotel room sales.
“Currently there's 13 percent tax on hotel rooms in Bartow County. ... You got to guess those folks will eat too. But remember those hotel rooms will not be up and running in 2012 when the first ball is pitched, so the existing hotels not only in Bartow, but also Cobb and Cherokee, will be absorbing those room nights until the development is built out.”
Cartersville also could see commercial growth—more retailers and restaurants—as a result of the sports complex.
“I think that once construction begins on the Dream Parks at LakePoint project and as the economy begins to show signs of life that some companies and industries will see Cartersville as a place that they will want to be,” Santini said. “I can't comment on possible or pending projects, but our Joint Development Authority, CVB and Chamber of Commerce, along with the city of Cartersville, are focused not only on recruitment of new business, but also the retention and growth of our existing businesses.
“In the long term, I think that this will be yet another world-class facility that makes Bartow County a destination point. It is a great complement to Barnsley Gardens, Tellus, the Booth Museum, The Grand Theatre and Red Top Mountain, just to name a few. The attention that Dream Parks at LakePoint will command, along with the further development that will happen because that project exists, will greatly increase local sales tax and hotel/motel tax revenue.”