Sports complex idea will take considerable public support


Last week, the Crook County Foundation unveiled plans to potentially pursue a major sports and entertainment complex in Prineville.

According to a completed feasibility study, the facility would feature at least a half-dozen baseball/softball fields, additional fields suited for football and soccer as well as an outdoor amphitheater, and hotel and dormitory structure capable of housing visiting sports teams and their families.

The complex comes with a price tag of $43.7 million. Some of that would be covered by private investors and other yet-to-be-named alternative sources, but $22 million would need to come from taxpayer money.

Members of an advisory committee formed for the project believe the cost is worth the potential benefit of 700 temporary construction jobs and 204 permanent positions as well as the anticipate $15.1 in annual revenue the facility would generate and the $10.3 million visitors would spend in the community.

At first glance, it seems the community is considering a very ambitious project with a hefty price tag. Questions abound from whether the community could generate enough sports tournaments and other events to support the complex to whether a community, who twice voted against a pool bond, would be willing to support an even more expensive project.

At this point, advisory committee members are still examining the viability of such a project, but so far, they believe that if they build, the events will come. This could be true, given no other Central Oregon community can claim such a facility, leaving Prineville as the only option in the region – at least up to this point.

We feel the harder part of moving forward lies in convincing the public that this could work to the point that they would approve a property tax increase of nearly 97 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value.

The advisory committee knows it will be a tough sell, and members such as Dean Noyes and Jeannie Searcy have said it will take a considerable amount of public outreach to allow them to take the next step of a planning phase.

However, the committee similarly needs to appeal to the local lodging industry as well. Encouraging construction of a facility that includes room for 500 people will take away potential business from other motels in the area. On the one hand, without the facility, there is no influx of visitors to lose. Regardless, would motel owners support a complex that competes with their businesses that is supported in part by taxpayer money?

We applaud local leaders and the Crook County Foundation for considering such a major project in the name of improving the local economy. It could provide yet another boost in the economy and claim to fame for Prineville the way the Facebook and Apple data centers have.

It’s good to see that community leaders plan to take their time and drum up public support. Hopefully, that groundwork eliminates the possibility for any glaring issues that stop the project, and the idea, ambitious as it is, eventually becomes a reality.