However, soft drink executives revealed during LakePoint groundbreaking ceremonies that the company would develop the Powerade Sports Safety and Hydration Lab on the LakePoint grounds.
LakePoint partner Neal Freeman also revealed that the facility, which he dubbed the International Performance Training Center, would also house the Dr. James Andrews Sports Medicine Research Institute. Andrews is a world-renowned Birmingham-based sports surgeon.
“This lab is going to use interactive technology to educate young athletes, their parents and the coaches on critical sports health issues,” said Susanne Geldart, senior vice president and region general manager for Coca-Cola.
“Issues such as hydration, such as sports medicine, as well as concussions and how do you prevent them, ” she said.
About 30 dignitaries, including Gov. Nathan Deal, former Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox, Kansas City Royals Manager Ned Yost and current Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez, participated in the groundbreaking ceremonies in Emerson.
It will take several months to move more than 15 million cubic yards of earth to level the field for 16 baseball diamonds, lacrosse and soccer fields and a plethora of youth and family oriented recreational facilities.
Partner Neal Freeman told a crowd of more than 600 invited guests that the 1,200 acre complex will also include at least five hotels, 16 restaurants, 14 theater screens, a state of the art water park designed by Whitewater West, the largest cable pulled wakeboard park in the country, golfing venues, a 100,000-square-foot multi-use indoor arena, and the Mini America entertainment and tourist attraction.
A 300-acre passive recreation nature area will sit adjacent to a multi-story zip line complex and a mountain themed miniature golf.
“All leading up to one of the nation’s largest outdoor retailers. Stay tuned for future details on that,” Freeman said.
Cox recalled it was Yost who initially got him involved in the project.
“I think this may be the best team I’ve ever been associated with,” Cox said. “It’s here, we’ve done it!”
The first athletic activity is slated to get under way in the spring of 2014, which Emerson Mayor Al Pallone noted would be a nice complement to the city of Emerson’s 125th anniversary celebration.
When the first phase of the project comes on line in 2014, developers project the complex will provide 2,400 jobs. Upon completion, perhaps another five-years away, LakePoint may provide as many as 26,000 jobs.
LakePoint has long-term leases with Perfect Game Baseball, NASA Soccer and LB3 Lacrosse, Vipers girls’ softball and others. They will run sports tournaments at the complex during virtually every month of the year.
Deal said sports tourism continues to be a major economic driver for the state of Georgia.
“This is going to be another one of them,” Deal said.
The governor said several of his Georgia State Patrol security folks spoke frequently of taking their children to places across the country to participate in sports tournaments.
“It would be nice for them to not to have to travel so far and let those folks from outside come here and see Georgia,” Deal said.
LakePoint developer’s project that more than 4 million people will flow through the complex once it is completely built out.
Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown was overjoyed to have the groundbreaking take place before he finally leaves office.
“This has got to be the biggest thing that ever happened in Bartow County,” Brown said.
Pallone could not express how important the development will be to his city.
“The job impact is obviously huge, for this whole region that’s been struggling with unemployment over 9 percent,” Pallone said. “We have to expand our staff obviously. As we grow with this we’ll start adding people and building the team.”