December 18, 2014

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Pro sports star’s company eyes Avon for training complex

AVON — Mayor Jim Smith says a deal for a $6 million, 105,000-square-foot domed athletic training facility should be sealed in the near future.

Jackson

Jackson

Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports is looking at Avon as a possible site for a training facility, shown in this artist’s rendering.

Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports is looking at Avon as a possible site for a training facility, shown in this artist’s rendering.

“I think it’s very close,” he said Tuesday. “It should 60 to 90 days and we should have something.”

The facility is being proposed by Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports, an Illinois-based company that has a similar facility in Lockport, Ill., and is slated to break ground on a 114,000-square-foot domed structure with 70-foot ceilings in the Columbus suburb of Hilliard this fall.

“We hope to become the second one in Ohio after Hilliard,” Smith said.

Officials of the firm recently made a presentation to Avon City Council during which they displayed photos and artist renderings of the proposed facility.

“The facility they already have (in Illinois) is 88,000 square feet, while this one (in Avon) will be 105,000,” Smith said.

Plans call for the dome to be built near All-Pro Freight Stadium and French Creek YMCA off Colorado Avenue just north of Interstate 90.

The company bears the name of Jackson, a multisport athlete whose accomplishments ranged from Heisman-winning player at Auburn University and in the NFL, as well as stints with three teams in Major League Baseball and winning honors including the 1989 All-Star Game MVP.

Designed to be used year-round, the air-supported dome appears to be fronted by a permanent brick building housing offices and other facilities.

Floor plan drawings for the Hilliard project include two multiuse fields measuring 36-by-63-yards, and 40-yards-by-40 yards, a 135-foot-by-135-foot baseball diamond, an 80-foot-by-80-foot girls’ softball diamond, a strength and conditioning area and a 40-foot-by-40-foot area known as the “gauntlet” that could include such components as a tire agility run and climbing wall.

While the company would lay out approximately $6 million for the facility, the city anticipates kicking in about $500,000 for water and sewer lines to service the location, Smith said.

The project would come before the city Planning Commission and City Council for approvals after an agreement is finalized between Elite Sports and the city.

The firm would look to start construction in 2014, Smith said.

Officials of Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports were not reached for comment Tuesday.

Avon has worked hard to develop a reputation as a community that works well with developers, the mayor said.

“We don’t give anything away here,” Smith said. “Developers pay their dues in terms of road improvements and traffic lights … but they also know that we work to get them through the approval process quicker than anyone else. “When they make money, we make money,” Smith said.

The company also has proposed a 40-hour-per-week accessibility to fields and training equipment by local schools, and the Park and Recreation Department.

Details of just how schools could make use of the center are not clear, but Avon Schools Superintendent Mike Laub said the project holds a lot of potential for Avon sports teams and athletes. The schools would have no cost obligations for the facility, Laub said.

“We’re excited to hear how this can benefit the schools,” Laub said. “We’re very supportive of this.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.