Plan: Huge sports complex at park
Two months into his tenure as director of the Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District, Jim Weyermann is already on his way to realizing one of his goals: bringing more recreational opportunities to Madras.
In January, Weyermann, who previously worked in professional and youth sports, hopes to announce plans for a major indoor sports complex — which will be built at no cost to local taxpayers.
"The charge of a recreation district is to provide activities for kids all throughout our region," he explained. "We have a pool and we're starting and emerging with more out-of-water activities."
When he came to work in Madras on Oct. 2, one of his goals was to develop a long-term sustainability plan for the district.
"For long-term stability, you need an economic engine," said Weyermann, who previously worked as vice president of franchise development for the Golden State Warriors and as a capital fundraiser for 3Ball USA. "The majority of those economic engines are facilities that tap into the growing youth sports tournament activities."
Weyermann intends for the project to be built without additional taxpayer money. "It's pretty clear that complexes like this across the country need private investment, in addition to what taxpayers have already provided. I have been in conversations with a potential donor who is considering funding a large, multisport facility," he said. "I have had hours of conversation with this particular donor."
The project would cost between $30 million and $40 million, and be located at the 70-acre Juniper Hills Park. Weyermann has been meeting with county, city and Bean Foundation officials to hammer out the details of the plan.
The 125,232-square-foot indoor complex would be built in an open "U" shape, where the adult soccer fields are currently located. Three new soccer fields would be added on the north end of the facility. The flexible facility would accommodate indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and badminton tournaments, and include an open weight room and wellness center for rehabilitation.
Between the two arms of the U-shaped facility, which would extend to the north, would be a 21,158-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink, and on the ends of each of the arms would be another 3,000 square feet of storage facilities.
The design would allow the district to meld the outdoor fields with the indoor fields, he said.
"The long-term goal is to generate enough operating revenue to provide some free recreational activities for kids that live in Madras," said Weyermann. "This is an idea that's being done across the country. It's the right time. In the last 10 years, it's exploded."
"All our kids are driving to the batting cages, indoor soccer facilities, basketball and volleyball," he said, noting that the sports complex would change that. "We'll keep everybody at home. If we're able to train kids year-round in our facility, our teams will be that much stronger. All of this stuff puts us on the map."
The county has drawn up an intergovernmental agreement with the MACRD to transfer about 16.5 acres to the district if the district carries out several steps prior to Dec. 31, 2020.
"Jim came to the County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 12) to discuss utilizing Juniper Hills Park," said County Administrator Jeff Rasmussen. "The commissioners have approved the outline of what an agreement would look like between us and the recreation district. He'll be coming back Jan. 9."
The steps in the outline include complying with Oregon State Parks and National Parks Service agreements and conversion plans, if necessary; presenting a development agreement with at least $8 million in committed funding improvements on the property, a land-use compatibility statement from the city of Madras for the improvements, and a five-year sustainable operations plan adopted by the district; and executing an agreement with the county to divide the irrigation system and domestic water facilities, or share in the costs.
Additionally, the county would maintain the unimproved property until June 30, 2021, but the property would revert back to the county if the district hadn't begun substantial construction by May 1, 2021, or if the total improvements constructed by Dec. 31, 2022, is less than $6 million.
The potential donor, who has not yet been identified, had a list of nine stipulations that needed to be met prior to any disbursement of funds, and Weyermann said that he had worked through eight of the nine.
Over the past month, Weyermann said, "I have engaged with a very wide group of members of this community in going forward and answering questions."
A group of local business people, including Dallas Stovall, of Bright Wood Corp., Mike Weber and Ken Stout, of Central Oregon Seed, Lindsay Foster-Drago, of KEITH Manufacturing, Greg Williams, of Deschutes Basin Farms, Rick Allen, of Willow Canyon Properties, Ryan Boyle, of Boyle Family Farms, and other members of the community have assisted Weyermann in plans for a sustainable business model.
"Our hope is that we can satisfy all the requirements and eventually achieve disbursement of funds," said Weyerman. "We're still doing the preliminary work and no one has committed to anything other than pursuing the viability of the idea. The whole premise is based on private funding. We're nearing the end of that first round."
After spending years working in youth sports and professional sports, Weyermann is confident in his knowledge of what it takes to develop a successful sports facility.
"For its size, it will be one of the most significant complexes in Central Oregon. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people — in a good way," said Weyermann.