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Bettendorf’s massive TBK Bank Sports Complex already is a player in the multi-billion-dollar youth sports industry that has exploded nationally over the last decade and continues to grow. From Peoria, Illinois’ gorgeous Louisville Slugger Sports Complex to the brand-new West Des Moines RecPlex to Waukee’s emerging SportsPlex West, the Quad Cities facility has plenty of rivals in the region, too – all offering clusters of ballfields perfect for hosting multiple teams at weekend baseball and softball tournaments. However, with the February expansion announcement – and more multi-use sports turf fields to be across Middle Road from the existing facilities – the TBK Bank Sports Complex is now in the big leagues nationally. “There’s nothing else like it,” said Jeff Reiter, the City of Bettendorf’s economic development director and a key player in the project. As a well-traveled youth baseball coach and parent, Mr. Reiter has visited several other complexes as a consumer, and the only comparison that comes to mind in the Midwest is Westfield, Indiana’s Grand Park. The NFL’s Indianapolis Colts call that facility their training camp home when Grand Park is not hosting a baseball tournament. “I’ve been there a number of times,” Mr. Reiter said. “That place is beautiful. They have walking paths and other amenities. It’s fantastic. “But even they don’t have a connection to the commercial and retail community like the TBK does. That’s still kind of on the outskirts of the community. So, you still have to drive to get somewhere,” he said. The difference-maker for the TBK, project developer Kevin Koellner agrees, is the “park-and-stay” aspect of having a hotel, restaurants, entertainment options, and other retail outlets within walking distance in the same sports complex. And the new addition includes even more – at least one more hotel on site as well as more restaurants and retailers alongside what will be the largest indoor golf venue in Iowa. Once completed, perhaps only Florida’s ESPN Wide World of Sports facility offers more entertainment options nationally in the form of the adjoining Walt Disney World theme parks. That puts the TBK Bank Sports Complex and Bettendorf in an enviable position. According to a story in USA Today last spring, one research organization focusing on youth sports projects that the industry will grow to $77.6 billion by 2026 – up from $19 billion in 2017. “A lot of times the youth sports complexes and even golf facilities are more isolated – they are out by airports or closer to industrial parks,” Mr. Koellner said. “But here, we offer everything you need to stay the weekend and never move your car. While the kids are playing sports here, your family can stay here, eat here, and find so many other things to do. “For the size and (sports) offering of the complex we are, the amenities are incredible -- from the bowling center to the arcade and rest of the family entertainment center to now the golf facility,” he added. Ironically, this major expansion began rather small last spring when Mr. Koellner purchased the 109 acres of farmland directly to the east of the sports center. At the time, Mr. Koellner was simply looking to continue to expand the retail outlets around the sports center along Middle Road and Forest Grove Drive. “The initial napkin sketching I remember seeing was exactly that – more commercial on the fringes of Forest (Grove Drive) and then basically just one big large lot for something else -- not knowing that it was going to be a golf amenity or more fields -- just carving out space for potentially something larger,” said Brent Morlok, lead engineer for the City of Bettendorf. However, after discussing the project with sports center founder Doug Kratz late one summer night, and realizing the continued growth of the facility, the idea to add more ballfields was added into the mix. The golf venue came later in the fall with partner Ryan Hintze to up the ante even further. In 2021, its fourth year of operation, the TBK Bank Sports Complex drew 1.5 million visitors – despite continuing challenges from the COVID pandemic. “We never thought about the other facilities or worried about any other developments people were considering,” Mr. Koellner said, pointing to TBK’s Sports Complex regional rivals. “I wouldn’t say this came from a competitive standpoint of ‘How do we compete with?’ and fill in the blank,” added Mr. Reiter. “Instead, I think this development team was trying to say, ‘How do we stand alone?’ What’s the game-changer to really put this facility on the national stage?” In turn, the City of Bettendorf has stepped up its game, too. The long-planned Forest Grove expansion project also has dovetailed nicely with the sports center’s development, promising improved traffic flow in that area, which was formerly a sleepy corner surrounded by cornfields. Roundabouts have been added to the plans on the main thoroughfares at the intersections with the entrances/exits of the sports complex. The city’s trail system is extending into the area, too, and a Pedestrian Bridge has been added to the sweeping streetscapes and signage to give the area a special look, feel and accessibility. Iowa’s Department of Transportation also has renewed consideration of updating and redeveloping the I-80/Middle Road interchange to handle the ever-increasing traffic in the area. Find previous coverage on these projects at quadcitiesbusiness.com. “Whether it was coming from the city or development team multiple times the mantra is – ‘We want to stop people from traveling even further west on I-80,’” Mr. Morlok said. “If they are coming to Iowa for this kind of an event? We want them coming here.” THE PLAYERS: These are the developers behind the TBK Bank Sports Complex expansion project:
- Middle & Forest Grove, LLC (MFG): TBK Bank Sports Complex founder Doug Kratz and facility builder Kevin Koellner have teamed with Ryan Hintze and Ben Logsdon to develop Iowa’s largest indoor golf entertainment venue. The yet-to-be-named 70,000-plus square-foot venue features three levels of climate-controlled hitting bays with TopTracer Range technology. The venue also includes a state-of-the-art video gaming area, plus several large event and special meeting spaces. Project advisor Troon, the leader in providing golf and club-related leisure and hospitality services, is expected to manage the facility.
- FG80 Holdings, LLC (FG80): Of the 109 acres slated for expansion, the closest to the Middle/Forest corner and yet-unnamed access road are set aside for at least one new hotel as well as additional retail outlets, such as restaurants, a convenience store, and other shops. Mr. Koellner, Mr. Logsdon and Ben Van Raalte are partnering on this portion of the development.
- TBK Bank Sports Complex: The expansion project also features several multi-sport turf fields for baseball, softball, soccer, and other sports to complement the existing venue’s current outdoor facilities. Current CEO Dave Stow and his staff will manage this portion of the new addition.