The Quad Cities sports landscape and economy are about to undergo a drastic change. That change will be spurred by a $75 million project that will bring more ballfields, a three-level golf entertainment facility, a new hotel and much more to an area near the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf. “This project puts us […]
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The Quad Cities sports landscape and economy are about to undergo a drastic change.
That change will be spurred by a $75 million project that will bring more ballfields, a three-level golf entertainment facility, a new hotel and much more to an area near the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf.
“This project puts us not only on the regional stage, but also on the national stage,” Dave Herrell, president and CEO of Visit Quad Cities, said about the new sports/commercial project after developers formally introduced it last month.
The massive project – unveiled publicly at a Feb. 16 news conference at the sports complex at 4850 Competitive Drive – is expected to begin construction April 1 and be completed by the end of 2023.
Middle & Forest Grove LLC and FG80 LLC are partnering on the new project to be built east of Middle Road and north of Forest Grove Drive and near the four-year-old TBK Bank Sports Complex. (Middle & Forest Grove will develop a golf entertainment facility as part of the project. It includes investors Ryan Hintze, Ben Logsdon, Kevin Koellner and Doug Kratz, developer of the sports complex. FG80, which includes Mr. Koellner, is developing the remainder of the new development.)
According to Mr. Herrell, the TBK expansion is expected to bring in millions of dollars and tourists, and even attract new residents to the Quad Cities.
He said the project could bring in $250 million in direct economic impact and more than 5.8 million visitor days to the Quad Cities over the next 10 years. And he believes those numbers are based on conservative estimates.
“Sports tourism is a driving force of our economic recovery through tourism, future growth and brand visibility,” Mr. Herrell added. “It is a competitive environment, but one that we need to be in because it has the ability to weather uncertainty and build civic pride.”
QC-wide economic impact
Dave Stow, president and CEO of the TBK Bank Sports Complex, also sees the expansion project as being a great driving force in the community. In addition to bringing in more money and people to the QC region, the expansion will make the sports complex the one-stop destination for everything to do with sports tourism. Visitors will be able to play on sports fields, eat at nearby restaurants and stay at nearby hotels, he added “Everybody is going to be looking at us. … It’s going to make it easier to organize those trips,” Mr. Stow said.
TBK’s past success
He is especially optimistic about the sports complex’s future because of its recent past. During the pandemic, the sports complex was incredibly popular with thousands of people who were looking to get out of their homes and get active, he said.
“We really allowed the community to breathe again. People knew this was a safe place,” Mr. Stow said.
The most recent economic numbers seem to support that view. Here are 2021 figures provided by the City of Bettendorf for the sports complex and The Plex commercial area, adjacent to TBK:
- 1.5 million visits to the TBK Sports Complex (587,378 visitor days spent in the QC.)
- More than $1.2 million in sales tax on site. (This does not include sales tax revenue yielded by the site throughout the QC.)
- More than $150,000 in hotel/motel tax generated at the nearby Cambria Hotel alone.
- More than $25 million in regional tourism and economic impact in the QC.
And community leaders seem to agree those numbers will explode in the coming years with the expansion project.
Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher, along with representatives from project partners Middle & Forest Grove LLC and FG80 LLC, introduced the new sports/commercial project during that February news conference.
Mr. Gallagher said the project will create a “national footprint” in the Quad Cities to attract many more people to the community – and not just tourists.
“It will help introduce hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of visitors to the Quad Cities. … We know once people visit the Quad Cities, they fall in love with our culture, with the people, with the way we live. This is a great opportunity to bring people to our area,” Mr. Gallagher added.
Mr. Herrell agrees, stating that sports tourism can help build civic pride and build a community image that will attract residents and more businesses. He points out that 37 million people live within six hours of the Quad Cities, and the community is in a strong position with its current (and upcoming) sports tourism facilities to attract many of those potential residents.
“If you get people to have an emotional connection with us and come in here and maybe kick the tires a little, that’s going to be a good thing for us,” Mr. Herrell added.
But the QC also could be on track to draw residents from almost every corner of the country. Mr. Herrell said that sports tourism has a way of thriving even in the toughest economic times and bringing in people. For example, he said a family from New Hampshire recently visited the Quad Cities for their young daughter to attend a youth sports training camp here.
But sports tourism is a “hyper-competitive” environment so developers can’t just build new facilities and rely on them to bring in more people, he said. Community representatives need to continue to visit sports industry events and trade shows to make sure the Quad Cities is part of the national sports tourism conversation, Mr. Herrell added.
“The adage of just ‘build it and they will come’ simply doesn’t work. You need an all-hands-on-deck and team-minded attitude to be successful,” he added.
The new project is expected to begin construction in April, and will cost at least $75 million, according to Kevin Koellner, president of FG80 Holdings LLC, one of the development partners.
Mr. Koellner added that numerous factors, such as cost of materials, supply chain issues and the ongoing worker shortage, could impact the construction cost estimate.
“Our biggest challenge will be
managing the labor market,” he told the crowd of nearly 100 people gathered at the project announcement.
One of the key features of the plan is a new golf entertainment facility that developers called the first of its kind in Iowa. That facility will feature TopTracer Range technology. It is being developed by Middle & Forest Grove, LLC, a new entity created by local investors Ryan Hintz, Doug Kratz, Ben Logsdon and Mr. Koellner.
In addition to the golf facility, other highlights of the expansion are:
- The total development will cover 109 acres of property east of Middle Road and north of Forest Grove Drive with about 75 acres to be developed in this phase.
- The project will include two synthetic turf multi-use fields – sized to accommodate two collegiate/high school sized baseball fields as well as eight youth baseball/softball fields or four full-sized soccer fields with lighting for night activities and parking.
- The project will create at least 100 jobs, not including construction jobs.
- Plans also include a restaurant, bar, meeting and entertainment areas, along with related parking.
- A 16-acre site, owned by FG80 Holdings LLC, is slated to include a hotel with at least 80 rooms, a commercial strip center and a convenience store. It is part of the 109-acre development area.
Boon for Bettendorf
The project is also expected to create millions of dollars in revenue for the City of Bettendorf. According to information from the city, the project’s total city revenue over 20 years will be $14.4 million; total incentives to developers will be $10.9 million; and the net gain to the city over 20 years will be about $3.5 million.
According to council documents, the City of Bettendorf will provide incentives including a 75% tax increment financing (TIF) rebate for 20 years (rebates will be paid only from TIF money derived from the project), economic development grants and eight years of annual commitments and infrastructure improvements. The city also will give the project developer $3 million in grants in two equal installments to be paid Jan. 3, 2023, and upon the completion of the golf facility. The city also will pay the developer $350,000 a year for eight years as part of the development agreement for the project, beginning July 1. That money will come from municipal funds.
Mr. Gallagher said he is especially proud that the development could make Bettendorf the ultimate destination for tourists around the country.
“This is the future of Bettendorf and our region. We’re setting up our community to be one of the most forward thinking and coveted tourism destinations in the Midwest, maybe even the country,” he added.