If 26,000 becomes reality that’s more than half the number of the total workforce in Floyd County … as it would be for Bartow County as well. Even at the 2,400 jobs expected to be present and filled when the basic elements of the youth sports-themed development complex first opens for business sometime in 2014 that represents more employment than provided by Floyd Medical Center, this county’s largest employer, or Shaw Industries, the biggest now in Bartow.
This concept has obviously really taken off in complete contradiction to the supposed “bad economy” and investment reluctance that dominate national news and concerns. That’s one of the wondrous things about the free-enterprise system: There is no such thing as a lousy time for a really good idea. And this one — a sort of central tournament/training/scouting center for many of the major youth team sports — clearly caters to one of the strongest areas of interests/activities of young people. Who, of course, will bring eager parents along to watch, stay, dine, shop as well as cheer.
IT IS NOTEWORTHY to compare how this “dream parks” thing was described two years ago, when first revealed, and what was trumpeted as included by the time of the groundbreaking.
First report of the plan in our newspaper: “Dream Parks at LakePoint involves the development of 16 tournament style baseball fields, a dozen soccer or lacrosse fields and a 100,000-square-foot indoor facility that will provide space for everything from basketball to volleyball to gymnastics. It will also offer large tracts for multi-family residential development, single family homes and commercial projects heavy on entertainment.”
Now, as described by the partners as ground was broken: All of the above plus at least 5 hotels, 16 restaurants, 14 theater screens, a state-of-the-art water park, the largest cable pulled wakeboard park in the country, golfing venues, the Mini America entertainment and tourist attraction, a 300-acre passive recreation nature area adjacent to a multi-story zip line complex and mountain-themed miniature golf.
Not only that but Coca-Cola will be sponsoring the Powerade Sports Safety and Hydration Lab in the International Sports Medicine Training Center where the Dr. James Andrews Sports Medicine Research Institute will also be located. Andrews is the Birmingham surgeon known for making superstars whole again by rebuilding their blown-out arms and knees.
And, of course, LakePoint partner Neal Freeman dropped this hint: “All leading up to one of the nation’s largest outdoor retailers.” That could be Cabela’s, which not long ago was interested in a site just up the I-75 corridor in Adairsville … or Bass Pro Shops … or Gander Mountain … or? There are a bunch of such superstore sports retailers without a presence in this vicinity.
THAT THERE is certain to be largely positive spinoff effect for all neighboring counties, including Floyd, from this is rather obvious. Employment opportunities clearly, since the site is only about a half hour from Rome and even within commuting range of an all-electric vehicle. Of course, it would make such a drive easier if the U.S. 411 Connector were there (once on I-75, hang a right and hop off at the Red Top Mountain interchange and you are at LakePoint).
Better still would be an alternative route bypassing the never-ending Dobbins Mountain route controversy — and Cartersville — entirely by running a new 20-mile four-lane from the Rome Bypass sort of diagonally across open, largely empty territory toward Taylorsville and hooking up to the new four-lane just outside … the Red Top Mountain interchange where a lot of four-laning in the direction of Rockmart has already taken place. That would open up a lot of land to residential and commercial development generated by LakePoint. Alas, nobody claims the state has vision … or that it is nimble enough to address the obvious before it instead must deal with a traffic problem.
Of course it is Bartow — and Emerson in particular — that are likely to really take off and profit economically and in tax revenues. “Town Center?” Sounds like 20 to 50 years from now Cartersville may be known primarily as a “suburb” of Emerson, which, until this came along, was a lot like Cave Spring except about 400 souls bigger.
EMERSON clearly can envision what is coming. Like Cave Spring, it had no property tax. It does now (two mills) in order to gear up public works/safety and get ahead of the coming curve. It just added “freeport” status that will exempt inventories of big stores — outdoors, gifts, etc. — from taxation.
And, in the most recent election it voted by better than 2-to-1 (136 to 61) for Sunday package sales of alcohol and 133-63 in favor of poured drinks. That’s not for the youngsters coming to LakePoint but it sure is for the adults chaperoning them.
Besides Greater Romans picking up a bunch of those jobs our community might well gain quite a few new residents because, let’s be honest, this is a better, more family-friendly and lifestyle-pleasant place to settle than most spots alongside interstates — and less expensive, too.
However, it would behoove local leaders to notice how rapidly elements are being added to LakePoint. At latest reports it will offer some 26 sports activities to an estimated annual throng of 4 million visitors. No football, of course — every high school and college in the nation is already a tournament/training center for that. Chess and tiddlywinks haven’t been mentioned but the main “missing” major sport has notably been tennis.
The LakePoint folks are very aware that Rome is trying to create the Tennis Center of Georgia and been supportive of that effort. The proposed tennis center would complement what LakePoint is doing … and vice versa. Of course, should Greater Rome’s effort fall through LakePoint certainly has the room and resources to pick up such a dropped ball … and the revenues to be served up by such a facility.
THE TENNIS center, like LakePoint, is one of those good ideas that makes free enterprise work and is supposed to overcome all obstacles. Ground has been broken at LakePoint but not on the tennis center, an idea actually around a bit longer.
This community, its private and public sectors need to get this accomplished. Or do they have to be sent to a LakePoint training seminar to learn how not to spend so much time on the bench hoping to get into the game?